Landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 turns 50 - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 turns 50

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BIRMINGHAM, AL - Fifty years ago today, landmark legislation became law that changed our country forever.

The Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race. It protected all citizens' right to vote, and, overall, eliminated long-held separate, but equal practices regarding public facilities, education and employment.

1963 was a pivotal time for Birmingham. The struggle for civil rights was more intense than ever. Back then, African Americans in this city only wanted to have the exact same rights as whites.  People were violently attacked by dogs, hoses, and police batons.  In a pre-internet era, the images of the movement played on T.V., and in national and world newspapers and magazines.

Under intense pressure and scrutiny, President John F. Kennedy had to step in. In June of 1963, President Kennedy delivered his famous Civil Rights Speech and a year later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.

It was the beginning of the end of harsh treatments.

Fifty years later, people are talking about the effectiveness of that historic bill.

"We have come a long way, but I think we absolutely have a long ways to go," UAB student Danielle Fincher said.

The act ensured equality in the workplace. But locally, there still seems to be a problem with employers being fair according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"Race, discrimination charges in our jurisdiction continues to be the largest number of charges come in," U.S. E.E.O.C Birmingham's District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas said.

So, How can that be fixed?

"Work in the area of race discrimination, retaliation, sex, notational origin all of these are the laws that we enforce," Franklin-Thomas added.

"There were participants in today's meeting who expressed concerns about the future of voting rights in this country because that protection has now lapsed," U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance said.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance says her Birmingham office will be on alert for voter fraud and suppression.
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