The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act are the twin pillars of American civil rights law. The former outlawed segregation in restaurants, hotels, and workplaces, while the latter finally enfranchised African American voters nearly a full century after the ratification of the 15th Amendment. These transformative statutes profoundly altered American social and civic life, allowing black and white Americans to share public accommodations, and increasing the number of black elected officials tenfold nationwide.
But fifty years after their passage, these laws' promises remain unfulfilled, and their status remains in doubt. The prohibition of legal segregation exists alongside widespread social segregation in our schools, universities, workplaces, and places of worship. And in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, just as numerous states were passing restrictive voter identification laws likely to suppress the turnout of black and poor citizens.
With this in mind, the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Gender mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act by remembering those who sacrificed for their passage, by taking stock of what has and has not been achieved, and by challenging those forces that would resurrect the policies and practices of racial hierarchies in new forms.
View the scheduled events.