Civil Rights Act turns 55

An unidentified mother and child joined a protest march in the early 1960s.
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Fifty-five years ago, on Feb. 10, 1964, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This historic step took place during a time when the Civil Rights movement was making an impact as racial tension was fomenting  across the United States of America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Although the act was effective on July, 2, 1964, the House of Representatives passing the bill proved to be monumental for its future and the futures of all minorities.

The act was strengthened by provisions that would seek to ban discrimination in employment, desegregate public facilities (other than schools), and increased protection of the black vote.

“People really sacrificed their lives and walked through dogs chasing them and being water-hosed knowing that when you got to the other side you did not know what would happen,” Barbara Cohen-Pippen, Florida A&M University’s director of governmental rrelations, said.

After years of dealing with legalized discrimination and harsh treatment by white people, African Americans were starting to see some type of government effort on a grand scale.

“They (protesters) really paved the way for us. Being able to vote and being able to participate in the government, with all of our rights is the result of the Civil Rights Act,” Cohen-Pippen added.

Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark for minorities, it only scratched the surface of racial and social reform.

“In 2008, we elected the first black president, then following the first black president came Donald Trump. And we’ve taken a step back into the wrong direction,” the Rev. R.B Holmes Jr, president of the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), said.

Conditions for blacks in America have improved, but there are still racial obstacles encountered by the community.

The unfair treatment of African Americans and other minorities by the justice system has been a recurring theme in U.S. history.

“The system is not fair. So we have to be an advocate and a voice to try to be able to understand what we need to do, that is, to not only pull our resources but be able to make sure that we as a people, minorities, and African Americans preferably, have a power,” the Rev. Don Tolliver, vice-president of NAN, said.

Many activists believe that there is a call to action now more than ever for minorities to stand and take action against the injustices placed on them, following in the footsteps of  those during the Civil Rights movement.

“We are not doing what we need to do to stand on our own and be able to be seen and actually understand the court process,” Tolliver said. “We need to be able to plan and look at the system to understand what it is that we need to do to fight back.”