AAs: 1964-1968: Johnson


Social Rights

- Johnson worked hard to break the filibuster and ensure the passage of the act in full.  It was a political triumph.  The act gave federal government the legal tools to end ‘de jure’ segregation in the south.

  • Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theatres, and all other public accommodations 
  • Prohibited state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity

= yet many blacks felt the act did not go far enough.  John Lewis of CORE said it was ‘too little, too late’

-  Daniel Moynihan wrote a report on black social conditions in 1965 and described the squalid living conditions in the ghettos, the continuing legal bias against black people and high crime figures among the black community

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Social Rights 2

- Watts Riots > Between 1965-8, riots broke out in northern and western towns and cities > Blacks were victims of segregation and discrimination but it was unspoken and therefore harder to legislate against > black community exploded when a young black man was arrested on a drink-driving charge and then subjected to a brutal attack from police.  By the end of the night, 34 were dead > serious outbreak of violence 

= white backlash against Johnson's reform programmme 

- Kerner Commision (March 1968) > The Commission was established by Johnson in 1967 in response to the widespread rioting > In response, Johnson spurred Congress into passing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which prohibited racial discrimination in the sale or letting of housing > still after little done to implement Commision recommendations 

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Political Rights

- Johnson's Civil Rights Act of 1960:

  • Made it easier to move civil rights cases from state courts with segregationist judges and all-white juries to federal court
  • Established the Community Relations Service, tasked with assisting in community disputes involving claims of discrimination 

act was far reaching but did little to facilitate black voting 

- The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party > an alternative to the official Democratic Party in Mississippi since many AAs felt the party did not offer black people proper representation > argued they had widespread support but no election due to majority of black people not allowed or too scared to register their vote

= As a result, the representatives from the MFDP were allowed to speak at the Atlanta conference but were not allowed to vote.

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Political Rights 2

- Selma Campaign 1965 > southern town of Selma, Alabama was chosen to test the 1964 Act and its voting rights provisions, 57% of the population was black but only 335 of over 15 000 black people were registered to vote

= town sherriff Jim Clark captured on television poking black people in the stomach who were queuing in an orderly fashion to register > created effective publicity and Johnson began to consider a separate voting rights bill

- Voting Rights Act 1965 > passed by large majorities in the House of Representatives (333 to 48) and the Senate (77 to 19) > made literacy tests and preventing black people from voting illegal.  empowered the national government to register those whom the states refused to put on the voting list


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