In July, 1964, after the long months of hard debates in both chambers of the Congress, the civil rights act finally was adopted, which was proposed earlier by the late President John Kennedy. This act is one of the most important legislative acts in the history of the USA. “A giant step forward,” – believes so Roy Wilkins, an executive secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Not a single legislative event of this century went so far to the matter of protection of human rights,” – said President Johnson, whose vigorous support played a significant role in the introduction of the act.
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Many political figures from South, including Wallis, the governor of the Alabama state, Russel, the senator from Georgia and Turmond, the senator from South Carolina, insistingly assert the contrary. They declare that a new act lets the federal bodies to interfere in those issues that according to the US Constitution are the State governments prerogative. However, these critics appeared to be in minority both in Congress and throughout the country. Questioning of public opinion showed that 70% of Americans welcomed the act.
The long debate in the Congress was for a reason: it confirmed once again that the civil rights act of 1964 would become a new landmark on the way of changes of the traditional social relations in the United States. Before the act, an employer had had the right to hire or not hire one or another person, as well as a shop owner could attend or not attend to a customer, with only limitation for former and the latter by the state and municipal regulation, and in most southern states these limitations did not exist as such.
The new act confirmed the provision that human rights – in particular, it was about the right to insult people or to discriminate them due to the colour of their skin – cost higher than the right of ownership and that the Federal government will protect human rights, if the states will not be able to ensure them. The act stipulates, however, that removing the racial injustice is prerogative of the local government, and encourages realization of such politics. However, if a local government does not succeed to exercise the authority, the Federal government is authorised by the new act to use all the power for the protection of equal rights for all Americans.
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