The Civil Rights Act (1964) outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, colour, sex or national origin in the United States. Incoming President Johnson used the assassination of his predecessor in its advocacy: ‘no memorial oration… could more eloquently honour President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought for so long’. Johnson was a legendary master of the art of legislative arm-twisting, which he deployed to the full to bypass a hostile Judiciary Committee and to overcome filibustering by southern senators designed to block the bill. The bill was watered down to secure passage and the final voting replicated, to a high degree, the divisions of the American Civil War. Most of the original Confederate states of the south were uniformly opposed, but the bill was carried due to huge majorities in the north, northeast and the western seaboard states.
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