Chapter 3: Outlawing overt racism

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Outlawing Overt Racism

What difference if I hail from North or South, or from the East or West? My heart is filled with love for all of these (Don Raye).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (78 Stat. 241) was enacted almost 188 years to the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It marked a turning point in US history. This Act, with its 11 statutes, was a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed overt racism and discrimination nationwide in all forms and settings in a permanent and irrevocable manner.

Title I of the Act reaffirmed the right to vote of US citizens irrespective of race and prohibited discriminatory barriers. Title II provided injunctive relief for anyone denied “full and equal enjoyment” (ibid.). of public accomodations due to color, national origin, race, or religion. Title III desegregated public facilities and established the right to equal protection, while Title IV desegregated public education and gave the US Attorney General the right to prosecute discriminatory institutions.

Title V established the Commission on Civil Rights, while Title VI mandated racial nondiscrimination in all federally-assisted programs including those related to education. Title VII established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, together with various affirmative action programs and policies. Title VIII established the need for registration and voting statistics, whereas Title IX established procedures for intervention in civil rights cases. Title X established community relations services, while Title XI addressed miscellaneous related needs at the legislative level.

Outlawing Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation. The 24th Amendment outlawed the Jim Crow poll taxes in 1964, whereas the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973) outlawed the voting literacy tests and broke “the segregationist lock on the ballot box” (The White House, 2006). In the same year, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 (The White House, 1965), which implemented the baseline standard of equal opportunity in employment. The SCOTUS through Loving v. Virginia of 1967 (288 U.S. 1) ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were illegal and overturned the Racial Integrity Act in Virginia, Pace v. Alabama, and similar laws.

Racism had at long last become illegal in the US. However, given its institutionalization in the very heart and mind of the nation, as well as in the individual and collective psyches of the American people, it did not vanish at the strokes of the legislative pens. Racism became repressed and remained ever-present, emerging in more insidious and subtle forms from micro- to macro-levels of society as covert racism.

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