| The Civil Rights Act
July 2, 1964
The three Civil War Amendments to the Constitution - the 13th, 14th and 15th - were designed not only to end slavery, but also to secure blacks all the rights and privileges exercised by whites. However, these supposed guarantees were far more notorious in the breach than in the observance. Crusades by black leaders like Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and their white supporters made no dent on the wall of prejudice. In the 1950s, blacks found a new leader: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose policy of non-violent resistance won the support not only of black, but of white opinion everywhere in the North. The violence with which Southern white authorities treated King and his followers inspired not only nationwide outrage, but more importantly, judicial and political intervention. By the time President Johnson succeeded to the Presidency, pressure for black equality was irresistible, and the Congress passed an all-embracing Civil Rights Act which, if enforced, should have ended discrimination in America forever. The Act outlawed racial discrimination in all public accommodations, in jobs and in public housing. It provided effective protection of blacks at the ballot box and authorized the Attorney General to intervene wherever necessary to enforce these laws. As long as the Warren Court lasted, the potentialities of the Civil Rights Act were fully realized; with the shift to a more conservative administration and judiciary that progress slowed down, and was, in part, reversed. This painting marks the anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.