On June 9, 1963, President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, introduced civil rights legislation to Congress. Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. strongly advocated for its passage–but it was a challenging battle. In a political landscape different from modern day, the act while the act was ultimately bipartisan, key Democrats were against it. Southern Democrats and Southern Republicans were opposed, with a majority of the other Republicans voting for the act.
One major hurdle was the assassination of Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, leaving his vice president, Texan Lyndon B. Johnson, who was installed as the new president to pick up the push for the passage of the legislation.
Following Kennedy’s death, Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, urging Congress to honor Kennedy’s memory by passing a civil rights bill. In his address, Johnson stated, “We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. We have talked for one hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter and to write it in the books of law.”
It was finally enacted on July 2, 1964. The landmark civil rights and labor law outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national...