I truly believe history repeats itself and when it does repeat itself it repeats itself in a cycle, not a circle. Therefore, when it does repeat itself, it repeats itself on a different level. During the “so-called” Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; there were African Americans who were energized by the work of the civil rights leaders of that time. These leaders and their movement were working towards integration and a civil rights act. Personally, I was against integration and all for freedom. I’m an American, so why isn’t the Constitution and its Bill of Rights all that I need? The Civil Rights Act reminds me of the treaties signed into law between the Native Americans and the United States government. Just like the Native American treaties, the Civil Rights Act wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. I came to this conclusion by taking the following look back in time.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, was the first United States federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law. It was mainly intended, in the wake of the American Civil War, to protect the civil rights of persons of African descent born in or brought to the United States. This legislation was passed by Congress in 1865 and vetoed by U.S. President Andrew Johnson. In April 1866 Congress again passed the bill to support the Thirteenth Amendment. Johnson again vetoed it, but a two-thirds majority in each chamber overrode the veto to allow it to become law without presidential signature.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 sometimes called the Enforcement Act or the Force Act was a United States federal law enacted during the Reconstruction era in response to civil rights violations against African Americans. The bill was passed by the 43rd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875. The act was designed to “protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights”, providing for equal treatment in public accommodations and public transportation and prohibiting exclusion from jury service. It was originally drafted by Senator Charles Sumner in 1870 but was not passed until shortly after Sumner’s death in 1875. The law was not effectively enforced, partly because President Grant had favored different measures to help him suppress election-related violence against blacks and Republicans in the South. In 1883, the Supreme Court ruled in the Civil Rights Cases that the public accommodation sections of the act were unconstitutional, saying Congress was not afforded control over private persons or corporations under the Equal Protection Clause. The
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The bill was passed by the 85th United States Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 9, 1957. The Supreme Court‘s 1954 ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought the issue of school desegregation to the public’s attention, as Southern leaders began a campaign of “massive resistance” against desegregation. In the midst of this campaign, President Eisenhower proposed a civil rights bill designed to provide federal protection for African-American voting rights; since most African Americans in the Southern United States had been effectively disenfranchised by various state and local laws. Though the civil rights bill passed Congress, opponents of the act were able to remove several provisions, limiting its immediate impact. During the debate over the law, Senator Strom Thurmond conducted the longest one-person filibuster in Senate history. Despite having a limited impact on African-American voter participation, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 did establish the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Congress would later pass far more effective civil rights laws in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Civil Rights Act of 1960 is a United States federal law that established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and introduced penalties for anyone who obstructed someone’s attempt to register to vote. It was designed to deal with discriminatory laws and practices in the segregated South, by which blacks and Mexican Texans had been effectively disfranchised since the late 19th and start of the 20th century. It extended the life of the Civil Rights Commission, previously limited to two years, to oversee registration and voting practices. The act was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served to eliminate certain loopholes left by the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits the unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. Initially, powers given to enforce the act were weak, but these were supplemented during later years. Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment, and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment. The legislation had been proposed by President John F. Kennedy in June 1963, but opposed by filibuster in the Senate. After Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the bill forward, which in its final form was passed in the U.S. Congress by a Senate vote of 73–27 and House vote of 289–126. The Act was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964, at the White House.
Titles II through VII comprise the Indian Civil Rights Act, which applies to the Native American tribes of the United States and makes many, but not all, of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights applicable within the tribes (that Act appears today in Title 25, sections 1301 to 1303 of the United States Code).
Titles VIII through IX are commonly known as the Fair Housing Act and were meant as a follow‑up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no federal enforcement provisions. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and since 1974, gender; since 1988, the act protects people with disabilities and families with children. Victims of discrimination may use both the 1968 act and the 1866 act via section 1983 to seek redress. The 1968 act provides for federal solutions while the 1866 act provides for private solutions (i.e., civil suits). The act also made it a federal crime to “by force or by the threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone … by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin, handicap or familial status.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 says “all citizens are equally protected by the law” so why do I need a Voting Rights Act and Tom Hanks doesn’t? Why does Serena Williams need a Fair Housing Act and my white neighbor doesn’t?
As I’ve said before, all these Civil Rights Acts aren’t worth the paper they were printed on.