JFK SENT CIVIL RIGHTS BILL TO CONGRESS 53 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, June 19, 1963, President John F. Kennedy sent his Civil Rights proposals to Capitol Hill with the request that the legislation be passed before the end of the year.
The President said...
"The time has come for the Congress to join with the executive & judicial branches in making it clear to all that race has no place in American life or law."
JFK wanted voting rights assured and constitutionally mandated school desegregation continued along with equal access to public facilities.
President Kennedy added...
"Justice requires us to insure the blessings of liberty for all Americans....above all because it is right."
The proposals followed JFK's address on Civil Rights in June and the March on Washington of August 1963. According to the JFK Library, the bill "cleared several hurdles in Congress and won the endorsement of House and Senate Republican leaders," but was not passed until after JFK's death "as a way to honor President Kennedy."
The proposed legislation included the following...
--protection of African Americans against discrimination in voter qualification tests
--outlaw discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce
--authorize the Attorney General to file legal suits to enforce desegregation in public schools
--authorize withdrawal of federal funds from programs practicing discrimination
--outlaw discrimination in businesses of more than 25 employees
--creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
On November 27, 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in an address to a joint session of Congress just five days following JFK's assassination, said...
"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."
President Kennedy's proposals passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964 and were signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
"Address to a Joint Session of Congress, November 27, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson, " Miller Center, www.millercenter.org/
"The March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act of 1964," John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, www.jfklibrary.org/