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An Act to enforce the constitutional right to vote . . . (Civil Rights Act of 1964), July 2, 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was Congress’s strongest civil rights legislation of the twentieth century. It extended the Civil Rights Commission, established the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, and strengthened federal enforcement of voting rights. The act banned all segregation and discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment, public and educational facilities, and federally funded projects.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

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Congress and the Court Secure Civil Rights

Congress and the Supreme Court have used their distinct but overlapping powers to define the legal basis of civil rights. After the Civil War and Reconstruction, violent intimidation and local Jim Crow laws continued to restrict black people, particularly in the South. Civil rights activists challenged those conditions, and in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional. Over the next decade, Congress passed landmark legislation to end segregation and ensure all citizens may freely exercise their civil rights.

We must come to see with the jurists of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963