Little Bits of History

Civil Rights Act

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2013
President Johnson signing the bill into law

President Johnson signing the bill into law

April 11, 1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. This act provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. Housing discrimination laws do not mean that landlords must accept all tenants. Objective business criteria are lawful reasons for discriminating among prospective tenants. Bad credit and low or no income are legitimate reasons to not lease, but must be applied universally.

The 1968 act provided for the equal opportunity to buy or lease housing. In 1988, it was amended to include people with disabilities and families with children. The 1968 bill passed the Senate 71-20 with 71.2% of Democrats and 90.6% of Republicans voting in favor. The House passed it 250-172 with 63% of Democrats and 54.3% of Republicans voting for it. There was a statute of limitations giving wronged parties one year to approach the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with complaints.

The 1968 act was a continuation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was an improvement on the 14th Amendment that was ratified on July 9, 1868, two years after it was first proposed. After the Civil War, America enacted laws to ensure Due Process and Equal Protection to the newly freed slaves. The 14th Amendment gives a definition to citizenship which overturned the Dred Scott case of 1857.

Civil rights have been an issue worldwide. John Locke, an Englishman who lived in the 17th century, argued that life, liberty, and property should be civil rights and protected by the state. One way to assure your rights are protected is by having a voice in your government. In the US, the 15th Amendment (1870) allowed voting to all, regardless of race and the 19th Amendment (1920) finally gave the vote to women, as well. In the UK the Reform Act 1832 allowed 1 in 7 males (property owners) the vote. Over time, more and more men were given the opportunity to have a say in their governing bodies. By 1928, even women were given the vote.

“Nations begin to dig their own graves when men talk more of human rights and less of human duties.” – William J. H. Boetcker

“We need not concern ourselves much about rights of property if we faithfully observe the rights of persons.” – Calvin Coolidge

“I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” – Horace Greeley

“Majorities must recognize that minorities have rights which ought not to be extinguished and they must remember that history can be written as the record of the follies of the majority.” – Lindsay Rogers

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dred Scott was born in Virginia in 1795. He was born a slave however he, his wife, and their two daughters lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal. He sued for his freedom, along with his family’s. The court system heard the case and when it reached the Supreme Court, Dred Scott V. Sandford was decided against Scott in a 7-2 decision. It was decided by the Court that neither Scott nor any person of African ancestry could claim to be citizens of the US. Not being a citizen meant that he could not bring suit in a federal court. Just as an aside, the Court also said that living in a free territory did not mean that he was a free man and he remained the property of his master.

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.

2 Responses

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on April 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

    “Not being a citizen meant”: slaves brought to the United States were not citizens because they were not born here same as free men coming into the United States,wherever they are coming from,regardless of race or color of skin. “African ancestry” was not used in the court’s decision- “african birth” was used. “African ancestry” is used as a means to incite those of african ancestry now for the purposes of fund raising and other such activities which are clearly acts of theft by deliberately misquoting the text of the court decision.

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