1960 May 6

Weak 1960 Civil Rights Act Signed Into Law


President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law on this day the 1960 Civil Rights Act. The law was extremely weak, even by the standards of the 1950s, and did little to strengthen civil rights enforcement. In a presidential election year, there was a shared attitude, at least among member of Congress outside the South, that some civil rights legislation should be passed, but there was no appetite for any strong legislation. One positive feature of the law was Title IV, which extended the life of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission.

President Eisenhower had a very weak record on civil rights. At  press conference on May 19, 1954, he failed to give a strong endorsement of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, which the Supreme Court had delivered two days before.

Go to September 9, 1957 for the signing of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first civil rights law in the twentieth century, and to July 2, 1964 for President Lyndon Johnson signing the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act.

See the Civil Rights Commission’s report on police brutality as a national problem, released on November 17, 1961.

Learn more: Hugh Davis Graham, The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960 – 1972 (1990)

See the Civil Rights Commission website: http://www.usccr.gov/

Find all the historical reports of the Civil Rights Commission: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/titlelist.html

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