Civil Rights Near the Turn of the Century

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What were the terms of the Civil Rights Act of 1875?

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The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was later declared unconstitutional in 1883 by the Supreme Court. It stated that all Americans were equal, regardless of race, as far as public accommodations and facilities were concerned. This included places such as restaurants, theaters, public transportation, etc. It also protected the right to serve on juries.

Later, in 1896, the fight for civil rights continued in a case known as Plessy vs. Ferguson. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional for blacks and whites to have separate railway cars as long as the accommodations provided were equal.

Here is a portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1875:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal and enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1875 tried to do pretty much the same sorts of things as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In other words, it was meant to stop people from discriminating against black people in public accommodations.  This would have meant that theater owners, for example, could not make blacks sit in a separate area of the theater.

This law was struck down by the Supreme Court just a few years later.  This was because it ruled that the law told people what they could and could not do.  The 14th Amendment only banned discrimination by the states.

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