The Civil Rights Act Of 1964

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My mother was a police officer for almost twenty years. Women have long been subject to, and the subject of, discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 originally did not include gender in the bill’s wording. Were it not for a backhanded comment made in jest by a backward congressman, women would not have been afforded equal rights protection in employment (Freeman, 1991; 2004). President Harry Truman inaugurated the legal Civil Rights Movement. Though people of color had long been yearning and fighting for their rights, President Truman began this legal process nationally in the year 1948 by signing Executive Order 9981 that mandated; "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment…show more content…
The word, “sex”, was suggested by Chairman of the Rules Committee, Congressman Howard W. Smith as a joke, and was intended to kill the bill. Smith was a white segregationist from the State of Virginia. That he did not use the addition of women to the bill to champion their equality, but rather used the addition of “sex” to disparage the equal rights movement shows that women were thought of as less deserving of equality than were people of color. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Emanuel Celler, said that the amendment was unnecessary because he and his wife had gotten along splendidly for 50 years. He said, "I usually have the last two words, and those words are 'Yes, dear '" (Gold, 2011). Female Representatives became very incensed at the farce the men were creating as to including their gender in the bill. Congresswoman Martha Griffiths stated, “If anyone doubted that women were second class citizens, the laughter would have proved it.” Southern segregationist representatives began to support the bill, mostly in response to Congressman George Andrews’s assertion that “Unless this amendment is adopted, the white woman of this country would be drastically discriminated against in favor of a Negro woman!" Women were second-class citizens as a whole, and women of color were mere chattel. The bill incited the longest filibuster in the history of Congress, and a vote had to be taken to end the ranting against the Civil Rights Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson
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