In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which greatly increased the federal government’s power concerning personal property. Using the Commerce Clause and the recent SCOTUS decision in Wickard v. Filburn, Congress was able to legislate whether businesses, rather than states, can discriminate. Title VII says:


(a) Employer practices

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer - (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

However, it seems as though the Civil Rights Act never actually accomplished what it meant to. Soon after the Act was enacted, employers began requiring high school diplomas and standardized tests at a time when education was very difficult for minorities, which is still prevalent today.

How successful was this subsection of the Act, how did it affect public opinion, and how effective was it at curbing racism in employment compared to the actual Civil Rights Movement and time? What were its successes and failures?

  • 7
    Sounds like homework. Can you show any research you have done?
    – Barry
    Jan 2, 2018 at 3:50
  • 1
    @Barry The person who originally drafted the question did a lot of research, though :) Jan 2, 2018 at 7:20
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    This is too broad. Racial discrimination is a topic worthy of many books, and you closed with an explicit call for examples. I suggest you pick a specific area of the Civil Rights Act, and ask how or whether it was successful. For instance, the paragraph added in your edits touched on employment discrimination, which is just one aspect of the law. You could make a good question out of asking whether the 1964 Act had an impact on minority employment, for example based on available labour statistics.
    – Semaphore
    Jan 2, 2018 at 11:00
  • @Semaphore How is this? I made it strictly about employment discrimination, and I can make the question about the Controlled Substance Act a separate question.
    – Cannabijoy
    Jan 2, 2018 at 15:18
  • @Joshua I think this works but please amend the title as well, thank you.
    – Semaphore
    Jan 2, 2018 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


When was the last time you saw an employment advertisement with the words "White Only", or "Blacks need not apply"? Likely you haven't. Before the civil rights act of 1964, specifically title VII such words were common on advertisements for jobs. Today you likely have never seen such advertisements, not because of changes to public perception, but because such adds are illegal.

1963 and 1964 saw sit-ins at lunch counters such as the Woolworth’s; restaurants where African Americans could not get service and would be arrested if they tried to eat. Wade-ins at public pools in places like St Augustine Florida where the public pools were segregated and did not cater to African Americans. Such laws and establishments were not prevalent everywhere in the United States, but they were certainly prevalent in some places and the Civil rights movement brought those places into American homes on the news nightly with protests, sit ins, and demonstrations.
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enter image description here Why did the civil rights movement go to all the trouble? To get Bull Connors in Birmingham Alabama to question his race preferences? No. The civil rights movement wanted federal laws to protect the rights of minorities even in the deep south. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was the landmark civil rights law which banned racism in public places. It was followed up by the landmark 1965 voter rights act which federally guaranteed voter protections across the nation. With the federally guaranteed voter protections African Americans became the political force which continued to change the South.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act that Kennedy sent to Congress tried only to get rid of discrimination in public places; Title VII, which added protections against workplace discrimination, was added as part of the long Amendment process. Just hours before the final vote, gender protections were also added to broaden the bill and thus derail it's passing.

Has the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fulfilled it's objective? No, we still have workplace discrimination. Yet the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has provided the legal basis for addressing these discriminations which didn't exist before it was passed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has received and investigated nearly a million charges of employment discrimination in the last decade.

Has the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fulfilled it's stated purpose and ended discrimination in the workplace? No, Absolutely not, but it has made a significant difference.

Primary Sources Washington University Law Review, The civil rights act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 background

Secondary Sources U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • Thank you for the answer. I have so many questions, and I’m not sure which are more important. I would agree that the reason I’ve never seen a “Whites Only” sign is because it’s illegal, but I’m really wondering how many of those I would actually see in this day. I also know that minorities wanted intervention from the federal government, but where did the Constitution give Congress the authority to interfere with private businesses within state lines? Also, what was the basis for most of the “million” investigations? I may need to ask separate questions to get to the bottom of this.
    – Cannabijoy
    Jan 13, 2018 at 1:47
  • Those signs were common enough 100 years after the civil war. What makes you think you wouldn't see them today if not for the changing laws? I think the civil rights movement started changing hearts and minds, the violence perpetrated by segregationists also made people change their minds. The civil rights movement wasn't new though, and neither was the violence. Make no mistake, it was the civil rights bill of 1964 which changed the practice. It's unthinkable today for most because of the Civil Rights Act.
    – user27618
    Jan 13, 2018 at 1:51
  • Where did Congress get the right to guarantee CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS for it's citizens? What do you think the founding fathers intended when they decided to form a Constitutional Republic rather than a Democracy. The sole purpose was to protect minorities rights from the tyranny of the majority. The founding fathers didn't trust people to protect minority rights because a democracy had killed socrates. That why the founding fathers only had the people voting Congressmen with all other branches of the gov coming from representatives voices.
    – user27618
    Jan 13, 2018 at 1:57
  • What was the basis for millions ( 1 million per decades) in discrimination cases? DISCRIMINATION based upon race, color, religion, gender or national origin.. By definition that's the only kinds of investigations the EEOC can investigate.
    – user27618
    Jan 13, 2018 at 2:00

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