It was one of the most far-reaching Congressional acts in American history. In 1954, the Supreme Court weighed in in a big way against legalized bigotry. Its landmark decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education outlawed segregated schools. But the invigorated civil rights movement ran head-on into Massive Resistance, a resurgent KKK, and white backlash.
Despite the Supreme Court decision, political leaders like Georgia Senators Richard Russell and Herman Talmadge successfully stonewalled federal civil rights legislation. In June 1963, President Kennedy proposed a law to end discrimination in voting, public accommodations, schools, and hiring. President Lyndon Johnson continued the great work.
After Kennedy's assassination, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed by a wide bi-partisan margin despite fierce Southern opposition in the House and one of the longest debates in Senate history.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., looked on, President Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act into law and redefined America’s social order on July 2, 1964, Today in Georgia history.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.