One of the pieces of legislation that have profoundly impacted American society is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Apart from ending segregation in public spaces, the legislation also outlawed employment discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, color, or nationality. President John F. Kennedy first proposed it and was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson (University of Connecticut, 2014). It was later expanded to include the Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The two additional follow-ups outlawed discriminatory voting practices and discrimination in the sale, financing, or rental of property, respectively. The banning of segregation and discrimination in the United States transformed society by improving access to opportunities for many previously marginalized groups.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, minority groups in the United States faced numerous challenges. Some of them include political disenfranchisement, employment discrimination, limited access to quality housing, and segregation in places. African Americans were among the most affected minority groups and were active participants in the Civil Rights Movement, which fought for the law(University of Connecticut,2014). Other groups that experienced discrimination and unequal access to resources and opportunities include women and the disabled. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 solved most of these challenges by outlawing practices that supported them.
One of the most significant impacts of the Civil Rights Act was improved economic and social mobility for previously marginalized minority groups. The ban on racial discrimination in employment ensured greater access to job opportunities for low-income families, women, and religious and racial minorities(Gregory, 2014). As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor was significantly reduced. Besides, the social and economic inclusion of minority groups promoted economic growth by increasing access to opportunities such as employment, education, and economic resources.
Secondly, the legislation removed discriminatory practices that previously disenfranchised minority groups. The passage of the voting rights act of 1965, which was a follow up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, removed barriers to voting: ensuring increased political participation by groups such as African Americans (Library of Congress, 2020). As a result, previously marginalized groups are more represented in political leadership than before the law’s passage. One of the results of this legislation is the election of an African American as the United States president in 2008 and the ascendancy of a black woman of Indian heritage to the vice president’s office in 2020. These feats would not have been possible without the inclusion of all groups in the political process.
Despite the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that banned segregation in schools in 1954, the practice remained rampant in many public spaces. The Civil Rights Movement was sparked by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where African Americans protested segregation in public transport. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation in all public spaces(Library of Congress, 2020). Consequently, the racial tensions that the practice caused subsided, allowing different races to co-exist cordially. If segregation were not outlawed, white and black athletes would not be playing together in teams such as Los Angeles Lakers.
The passage of the legislation impacted a process philosophy called liberal democracy. It reinforced American democracy by promoting equality. Additionally, it gave minority groups the power to create change. Significantly, it ensured that every citizen is free to participate in elections, which are one of the key tenets of liberal democracy. Jim Crow laws, which were replaced by the passage of the law, had tried to preserve white supremacy in a way that undermined liberal democracy.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 transformed American society by doing away with discrimination and segregation, enabling many minority groups to access opportunities and resources. Consequently, their numbers in the workplace increased. Besides, they can own property, go to school anywhere in the country, and use the same public facilities as the whites. Notably, the minority groups participate in the political process unhindered. The increased social, economic, and political mobility for the previously marginalized groups has contributed to national unity, stability, and prosperity.
Gregory, R. F. (2014). The Civil Rights Act and the battle to end workplace discrimination. Rowman and Littlefield.
Library of Congress (2020). The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long struggle for freedom. Web.
University of Connecticut (2014).The Civil Rights Act of 1964 revisited. Web.