• The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, gender, and national origin. The act outlawed segregation in all public facilities, authorized the federal government to force desegregation in schools, and established equal rights in the workplace.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory exam requirements for voter registration and allowed the federal government to take over the registration process in states with a history of discrimination. Both measures dramatically increased voter registration by African Americans in the South.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1968, which eliminated discrimination in housing and made it easier for minorities to secure loans and mortgages.

Affirmative Action (1970s–Present)

Affirmative action programs try to rectify past discrimination by giving minorities and women special consideration when employees are hired and students are admitted into universities. Proponents argue that affirmative action rights past wrongs and helps erase the effects of racism and other bias. Critics argue that affirmative action unfairly discriminates against whites, a phenomenon known as reverse discrimination.

The Bakke Case

In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in its first affirmative action case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The Court upheld affirmative action but argued that although race could be a factor in admissions decisions, it could not be the only factor.

Popular pages: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights