In a different time, in a different era, the world still sought out peace. No one had the answers then and no one has the answers now.
54 years ago a nation decided they might have found a way to deal with the problems that were plaguing them. At least for the time being, at least so that everyone would take their gaze off America. At least so that things could be normal for a time.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was and still is a landmark civil rights law in the United States. It was monumental in the way in which it specified how civil rights should be applied based on race, religion, color, sex, or national origin. Powers were weak at first but grew more supportive as years went by and supplements were made. It was initially proposed by President John F. Kennedy asking for legislation to be made which gives all Americans the rights to places and things that are open to the public already (hotels, restaurants). Please keep in mind that, especially in the South, Jim Crow laws were really still being enforced until 1965. A lot of places were still segregated, including public schools.
Anyway, since the bill was filibustered in the Senate in President Kennedy’s time, it was President Lyndon B. Johnson that pushed it forward and signed it into law on July 2, 1964. A quote that might speak to the political climate of the time: “The bill divided and engendered a long-term change in the demographic support of support of both parties.” Things were heating up, for sure not everyone liked the bill. Some were sure it would lead to things they were not comfortable with such as desegregation and the possibility of infringing on the right to segregate based on race. So, yes there were numerous concerns and a multitude of race concerns that this bill was not addressing at the core.
On the topic of segregation today we are great. On the topic of racial discrimination and iniquity, we are scores better than during this time. However, today people think deeper. People worry more about how they will be perceived by someone of another race, gender or class in their workplace and in public. If you’re black, we’re talking about the police here. If you’re Hispanic, you worry about your safety and home being taken away from you as well as your family. If you’re Muslim, you worry when there is a terrorist attack that they might just be Muslim even though you try to remember that America is supposed to be passed that, right?
No answers. Cold shoulders. Locked out Senate. Mismanaged White House.
Still searching, still hoping that the phrase “history repeats itself” means nothing anymore.