July 2 - 1964 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Signed Into Law
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a relatively simple law, banning segregation in public facilities, guaranteeing equal access to voter registration, and empowering the Attorney General to sue municipal and state government. Still, passing the law was extremely challenging. The idea of a Civil Rights Act was introduced by President John F. Kennedy in the summer of 1963. He immediately faced opposition from Southerners in his own Democratic Party, even though the Party leaders in both houses supported it. Then in November, Kennedy was assassinated, and his successor Lyndon Johnson used Kennedy's death to pressure the Congress. Specific lawmakers became the biggest hurdle, as segregationists fought to have the bill never come to a vote. Therefore, congressional leadership bypassed some usual rules. In the end, and after a two month filibuster by Southern Senators, both houses of Congress would overwhelmingly vote in favor of the bill. This made Lyndon Johnson the President to get Civil Rights Legislation to become law, but it also created a political realignment.