The Mississippi Burning case of the three civil rights workers listed as missing culminated in the tragic discovery six weeks later of their murders. Their disappearance garnered national attention in June of 1964, simultaneous to the contentious national debate on the proposed Civil Rights Act, which was finally passed July 2, 1964.
The landmark act prohibited discrimination based on race, gender, religion, and country of origin in the workplace, and also outlawed segregation in public places, including schools, restaurants, theaters, and hotels, thereby challenging the long-term Jim Crow segregation practices of the South.
Initiated by John F. Kennedy in 1963, upon his assassination, the banner of the Civil Rights Act became the legacy of President Lyndon, and not without struggle, during a tumultuous year until the bill’s final passage in the summer of 1964. This historic act not only made segregation illegal but also paved the way for many of the rights Americans enjoy today. The Equal Employment clause in hiring practices stems from the act, and the act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to oversee the administration of the policies set forth. Under Title VI of the act, discrimination in federal funded programs was prohibited, resulting in considerable reforms in educational institution policy and practice.
The Civil Rights Act also set the stage for passage of the Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which forbade gender discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding. The result of this newer act led to a multitude of athletic and other programs giving females parity with males. For instance, although not the stable, athletic teams for girls were now introduced in high schools and the map of college sports changed forever.
How do you believe the Civil Rights Act has affected your own life, be it academically, in the workplace, or otherwise? What differences do you see it making in the lives of others? How does the period of upheaval witnessed in the film Mississippi Burning help us appreciate the rights granted by the act? How has this film helped you to understand history in terms of where we are today?
Image from: www.corporateservices.noaa.gov
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