Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: The Civil Rights Act was passed on this day in 1964

Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of violence.

The House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Bill on Feb. 10, 1964, which was eventually renamed the Civil Rights Act. It was officially passed in the U.S. Congress on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act has played an incredibly important role in U.S. history, as it outlawed discrimination in public places and segregation as a whole. It marked a significant historical shift for Black people and the course of humanity overall. It was signed into law by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. 

While this law marked a positive shift and change for the Black community, it was not an easy fight to win. 

Since 1619, the fight for equality in the U.S. seemed impossible for Black people as enslavement took over their livelihoods. 

Being in spaces where they were constantly treated inhumanely, Black people have always had to fight for our equal rights in society.

While slavery was abolished in 1865 with the 13th Amendment former President Abraham Lincoln, some might argue there is still a fight today to ensure slavery’s aftermath no longer exists. 

Black people became citizens of the U.S. through the 14th Amendment, and Black men were granted the right to vote through the 15th Amendment. 

During the late 1800s, it appeared Black people were trailing down a promising path of equality. However, this proved to be incorrect as Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were introduced to keep Black people from experiencing the freedoms they deserved. 

Black Codes were laws created to reinforce the conditions of slavery for Black people. This meant Black people were forced to work hard jobs for no pay, or very little pay if they were lucky. 

Aside from this, Jim Crow laws were essentially the backbone of the Black Codes and allowed for racism to continue in the U.S.

The emergence of these laws, enforced and made legal by the U.S. government, constantly threatened the civil rights of Black people. 

Some years later, in 1955, a young boy named Emmett Till was brutally lynched by two white men in Mississippi. What made this particular case so monumental was Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who decided to have an open-casket funeral to show the world what had been done to her son.

By Till-Mobley allowing people to see what happened to her son as a result of Jim Crow laws and the governmental enforcement of racism, civil rights for Black people would forever be changed.

The killing of Emmett Till has proven to be one of inciting events of the civil rights movement and forced people all over the world to truly see the evils of racism and hatred. 

When thinking of the history of this country and where we are today, it is important to note we are not so far removed from some of the monumental events which have taken place. 

The Civil Rights Act was passed just 58 years ago. There are people still living who have been directly affected by segregation and Jim Crow laws. It should be made clear every living being is a result of history and what once was. It is now our responsibility to ensure history does not repeat itself.

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