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Golden Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Fifty years ago today, President Johnson signed the most important legislation of modern American history, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
I was 10 years old and living in Fairfax County, Virginia (a D.C. suburb) at the time.  Unlike most people today, I remember what it was like in America, particularly in the South, before the Act, as contrasted with after.  I cringe when I hear hyperbolic rants that nothing has changed.  The change was huge.  See, e.g., this post from 2007.

Comparing the rapid change after the Act with the snail's pace change in the decade between Brown v. Board of Education and the Act is an important reminder of the limited capacity of the judiciary to bring about genuine change.  A decade after Brown I was attending a segregated public school a stone's throw from the Supreme Court.  The intervening ten years had been years of "massive resistance."

After the Act, the resistance evaporated.  Fairfax County's schools were integrated quickly and without major incident.  No need to send in the Airborne Rangers.  No governors standing in doors.  The once ubiquitous "whites only" signs quickly came down in places of public accommodation.  As a product of democratic action rather than judicial fiat, the Act had the broad public acceptance that the court decision did not.

We can and will continue to argue what the true meaning of civil rights is.  Paul Moreno has this article in the WSJ arguing that the ink was barely dry before the basic moral principle of the Act was betrayed and it was turned into an instrument for racial discrimination in the guise of affirmative action.  We will put those issues to one side for now.  Today let us remember the monumental change for the better achieved fifty years ago and honor the memory of those who struggled to achieve it.


Certainly much good emanated from this landmark piece of legislation. However, in addition to the "unintended consequences" raised by Paul Moreno, a blind eye can not be turned to the perverse impact of government programs on the black family. A recent statistic reported that only 16 percent of black households are married couples with children. For too many single mothers, a lifelong relationship with the state provides the financial support that was once only available in a married relationship.

True, but that was from the Great Society legislation of LBJ's full term (65-69), not from the Civil Rights Act of 64.

Jason Riley of the WSJ has a book out on the subject you raise. Haven't read it yet, but Riley's always good.

I may have conflated the two but the Civil Rights Act clearly formed the impetus for the ill-fated Great Society legislation.

And now the Federal government discriminates against whites and Asians, against men, and in favor of illegal aliens. It tells white Americans who one can associate with, but accepts black and Hispanic discrimination against whites. The 1964 Act was an act of tyranny and an enemy of liberty.

The discrimination you refer to is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the 1964 Act.

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