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Thank a Democrat: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

By J. Michael Atherton.

Should we feel free to insult a person because he is African-American? What about dumping a woman from a job because she is a woman? Do we show our better selves when we refuse to serve food to persons because of their faith, or where they were born, or whom they love? Somehow it took our country 188 years to face our stupidity and pettiness about such issued and then to write the correction into the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

When Lyndon B. Johnson signed this bill into law apparently many Americans practiced racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic actions as though it were their God-given right. The Civil Rights Act may not have stopped such actions, but it gave people pause before they let out their inner devils. Significantly, it gave minority populations that had suffered lifetimes of hate, the legal means to defend themselves. It gave birth to the Voting Rights Act in 1965 that banned literacy tests for voters. It also birthed the 1968 Fair Housing Act that let people buy houses or rent free from discrimination.

The Civil Rights of 1964 helped force America to fulfill its promise of equity found in the Constitution. If you accept our Constitution, then you must promote the 1964 Civil Rights Act. If you reject our Constitution, then say so and we will know you for what you are. Republicans not only failed to promote these basic ideals of equity, they fought them tooth and nail.

Elitist Republicans sent salvos of obstructionist amendments, 100 of them, trying to cling to their self-appointed status as the chosen ones. When these failed, Dixiecrats (proto-Republicans in the south) launched a week-long filibuster grinding the legitimate business of government to a halt. Their exhausting activities aimed at a single goal: they wanted to remain the elite.

What was to fear? After all, the Bill helped Americans walk the streets without fear that they would be degraded. It made it legal for Americans to buy a soda in a lunch counter. Our fellow citizens could get and hold jobs that matched their talents. Such actions make the nation great. They spread the feeling of security and allow people to live in safety. That the elitists saw these actions as threatening indicts their claim to be special.

If you think all Americans should feel free to vote, live where they want, love whomever they can, and worship as they think right, then Thank a Democrat.


About the author

Mike has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school. Four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. Moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where wife Cynthia Walter taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. Moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment.

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