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Civil Rights Act of 1960

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Civil Rights Act of 1960
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to enforce constitutional rights, and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial)CRA
Enacted bythe 86th United States Congress
EffectiveMay 6, 1960
Public law86-449
Statutes at Large74 Stat. 86
Acts amendedCivil Rights Act of 1957
Titles amendedTitle 18—Crimes and Criminal Procedure
U.S.C. sections amended
Legislative history
Major amendments

The Civil Rights Act of 1960 (Pub.L. 86–449, 74 Stat. 89, enacted May 6, 1960) is a United States federal law that established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and introduced penalties for anyone who obstructed someone's attempt to register to vote. It was designed to deal with discriminatory laws and practices in the segregated South, by which blacks and Mexican Texans had been effectively disenfranchised since the late 19th and start of the 20th century. It extended the life of the Civil Rights Commission, previously limited to two years, to oversee registration and voting practices. The act was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served to eliminate certain loopholes left by the Civil Rights Act of 1957.[1]


By the late 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement had been pressuring Congress to enact legislation to protect the constitutional civil rights of African Americans. The first major piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress was the Civil Rights Act of 1957. While enforcing the voting rights of African Americans set out in the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the act had several loopholes. Southern states continued to discriminate against African Americans in application of voter registration and electoral laws, in segregation of school and public facilities, and in employment.

The new legislation was proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his message to the 86th Congress on February 5, 1959, when he stated "that every individual regardless of his race, religion, or national origin is entitled to the equal protection of the laws."

Eisenhower's mandate

Toward the end of his presidency, President Eisenhower supported civil rights legislation. In his message to Congress, he proposed seven recommendations for the protection of civil rights:

Legislative history

House of Representatives

The bill, H.R. 8601, began in the House of Representatives under jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee. The chairman of the committee, Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York, was known to be a firm supporter of the civil rights movement. The bill was easily approved by the Judiciary Committee, but the Rules Committee attacked the Judiciary Committee to prevent the bill coming to the floor of the House of Representatives.[3] The bill was introduced to the House on March 10, 1960.

The "voter referees" plan was part of a House amendment to the original bill to substitute Representative Robert Kastenmeier's "enrollment officers" plan. After several amendments, the House of Representatives approved the bill on March 24, 1960 by a vote of 311–109.[2][4] 179 Democrats and 132 Republicans voted Aye. 93 Democrats, 15 Republicans, and 1 Independent Democrat voted Nay. 2 Democrats and 1 Republican voted present.[5]


The Senate's Judiciary Committee also faced attempts to dislodge the bill. Southern Democrats had long acted as a voting bloc to resist or reject legislation to enforce constitutional rights in the South and made it difficult for proponents of civil rights to add strengthening amendments.[3] After amendments in the Senate, H.R. 8601 was approved by the Senate on April 8, 1960 by a vote of 71–18.

The House of Representatives approved the Senate amendments on April 21, 1960 by a vote of 288-95[dubious ] and the bill was signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 6, 1960.[2] No Republican Senators voted against the Bill.


Title I—obstruction of court orders

Title I which amended Chapter 17 of title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1509, outlawed obstruction of court orders. If convicted, one could be fined no more than $1,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than one year.[6]

Title II—flight from prosecution, explosives, threats and false information

Title II outlawed fleeing a state for damaging or destroying a building or property, illegal possession or use of explosives, and threats or false threats to damage property using fire or explosives.

Section 201 amended Chapter 49 of title 18 (18 U.S.C. § 1074). The amendment outlaws interstate or international movement to avoid prosecution for damaging or destroying any building or structure. The section also outlaws flight to avoid testimony in a case relating to such an offense. If convicted, one could be fined no more than $5,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than five years.

Section 203 amended Chapter 39 of title 18 (18 U.S.C. § 837). The amendment dealt with the illegal use or possession of explosives. The section outlaws transportation or possession of any explosive with intent to damage a building or property. The section also makes the conveying of false information or threats to damage or destroy any building or property illegal.[6]

Title III—federal election records

Section 301 calls for the preservation of all election records and papers which come into an officer or custodian's possession relating to poll tax or other act regarding voting in an election (except Puerto Rico). If an officer fails to comply, he/she could be fined no more than $1,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than one year. Section 302 declares that any person that intentionally alters, damages, or destroys a record shall be fined no more than $1,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than one year. Section 304 establishes that no person shall disclose any election record. Section 306 defines the term "officer of election".[6]

Title IV—extension of powers of the civil rights commission

Section 401 of Title IV amended Section 105 of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (71 Stat. 635) declaring that "each member of the Commission shall have the power and authority to administer oaths or take statements of witnesses under affirmation."[6]

Title V—education of children of members of armed forces

Title V arranged for the provision of free education for children of members of the armed forces.[6]

Title VI—protection of voting rights

Title VI amended section 131 of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (71 Stat. 637) to address the issue of depriving African-Americans the right to vote.

Section 601 declares that those given the legal right to vote shall not be deprived of that right on account of race or color. Any person denying that right shall "constitute contempt of court."[6] The section also states that the courts can appoint "voting referees" to report to the court their findings of voting infringement. The section also defines the word "vote" as the entire process of making a vote effective--registration, casting a ballot, and having that ballot counted.[7]

Title VII—separability

Title VII established the separability of the act, affirming that the rest of the act shall go unaffected if one provision is found invalid.[6]

Subsequent history

Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1960 were deemed ineffective for the firm establishment of civil rights. The later legislation had firmer ground for the enforcement and protection of a variety of civil rights, where the acts of 1957 and 1960 were largely limited to voting rights.[8] The Civil Rights Act of 1960 dealt with race and color but omitted coverage of those discriminated against for national origin, although Eisenhower had called for it in his message to Congress.[9]

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 worked to fulfill the seven goals suggested by President Eisenhower in 1959.[10][11] The two satisfied proponents of the civil rights movement to end state-sponsored racial discrimination and protect legal equality in the United States.

See also


  1. ^ Peters, Gerhart. "Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Statement by the President Upon Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1960," May 6, 1960". Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Schwartz, Bernard ed. (1970). Statutory History of the United States. Chelsea House. pp. 933–1013. ISBN 0-07-055681-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Berman, Daniel Marvin (1966). A Bill Becomes a Law: Congress Enacts Civil Rights Legislation. Macmillan.
  4. ^ "H.R. 8601" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2013.
  5. ^ "H.R. 8601".
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Civil Rights Act of 1960". Ashbrook Center, Ashland University.
  7. ^ "Before the Voting Rights Act". Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  8. ^ Bardolph, Richard (1970). The Civil Rights Record: Black Americans and the Law, 1849-1970. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, Inc. pp. 311, 352–3, 395, 403–5, 493, 495. ISBN 0-690-19448-X.
  9. ^ Perea, Juan F. "Ethnicity and Prejudice: Reevaluating "National Origin" Discrimination Under Title VII". William and Mary Law Review.
  10. ^ "Civil Rights Act of 1964" (PDF). 1964.
  11. ^ "Voting Rights Act of 1965" (PDF). 1965.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 April 2021, at 10:39
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