On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, calling on U.S. citizens to “eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in America.” The act became the most sweeping civil rights legislation of the century.
 
The Civil Rights Act provided legal recourse for discrimination in schools, public facilities, and conflict resolution. Its section on voting rights was strengthened a year later by the Voting Rights Act.
 
Although majorities in both parties supported the Civil Rights Act, its passage altered the political loyalty of many areas in the South, where opposition to the law was strongest. The South had traditionally supported the Democratic Party, but became a Republican stronghold within 20 years of the act’s passage. 
 
“I know the risks are great, and we might lose the South, but those sorts of states may be lost anyway,” said Johnson, a native Texan.
alter
Verb

to change.

citizen
Noun

member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.

civil rights
Plural Noun

set of fundamental freedoms guaranteed to all individuals, such as participation in the political system, ability to own property, and due process and equal protection under the law.

conflict resolution
Noun

theory and practice of bringing peaceful end to conflicts.

discrimination
Noun

treatment based on a group to which a person belongs, not the person himself.

eliminate
Verb

to remove.

legal
Adjective

allowed by law.

legislation
Noun

law, legal act, or statute.

loyalty
Noun

faithfulness or consistency.

political
Adjective

having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

public
Adjective

available to an entire community, not limited to paying members.

recourse
Noun

access to help or protection.

South
Noun

loosely defined geographic region largely composed of states that supported or were sympathetic to the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) during the U.S. Civil War.

sweeping
Adjective

overwhelming and wide-ranging.

traditionally
Adverb

historically, or established by custom.

vestige
Noun

hint or trace evidence.

voting rights
Noun

issues surrounding the legal right and ability to campaign and cast a vote in political elections.

Voting Rights Act
Noun

(1965) American legislation outlawing practices designed to prevent eligible voters from voting.

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