In a few days, we will mark the 54th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which, as the History Channel puts it, is the “crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement”.
Proposed by President John F. Kennedy and signed by his successor Lyndon B. Johnson, the Act ended segregation in all public places, forbade the use of federal funds for discriminatory programs, and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The Civil Rights Movement that preceded the Bill was a mix of violent and nonviolent demonstrations, sit-ins, protests, and encounters between white separatists and white and black activists that propelled the nation’s government to act.
President Johnson is said to have signed the bill with at least 75 pens, “which he handed out to congressional supporters of the bill such as Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen and to civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins”.
But while the Civil Rights Movement and the proposed bill brought many people across the color line together, it drove others apart, including scorn and disapproval from many white Southerners who believed that it was unnecessary.
In a rare footage unearthed by Huffington post editor, Philip Lewis, which has since gone viral below, we get a glimpse of some of what white separatist believed. As one white woman told the local reporter, “well, of course, being a Southerner, I’m not for it at all”.
Saw this on Facebook: 1964 news clip of white citizens reacting to the proposed civil rights bill. pic.twitter.com/j8yM00hEgB
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 21, 2018
America has come a long way since the 1960s. In fact, a Gallup poll in 1964 found that 78% of white people would leave their neighborhood if many black families moved in. By March 2014, 60% of whites and 55% of blacks believe race relations to be good.
Still, some fear that things are changing for the worst in the era of Trump. Some reactions to Lewis’ tweet suggests that people believe that deep-seated racism still exists.
— vivian harris (@HarrisVivian) June 21, 2018
54 years isn’t a long time ago. Wild man.
— Grits N Gravy ?? (@BeemerSin86) June 21, 2018
It’s sad and pathetic. But the harsh reality is that this happened in 1964!! 1964!! I was born in ’72! Some of these ppl are still living! And they passed down their racial hatred for Blacks to children and Grandchildren!
— Dink Kearney (@DonnellKearney) June 21, 2018