Writing in 1963 James Baldwin declared, “America, of all the Western Nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept of color. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity” (340). It would be James Baldwin’s vision that he would be able to walk into a restaurant or walk the streets of a city and not be called “boy”. This concept should have been achieved by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but through the eyes of many African Americans it wasn’t. The cultural movement during the 1960’s, the civil rights movement, and the changing views and opinions of many Americans brought about the legislative changes of the times, especially the
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The bill originated from two others, one of which was the Equal Opportunity Act of 1962 that never came into law. This bill made up the core of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Bureau of National Affairs 18-20). This bill attempted to fill in the holes of previous civil rights bills of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that failed, in order to create a piece of legislation that changed the cultural position and the position in society of African Americans.
Throughout the 1950’s and early to late 1960’s many Americans advocated equal rights for African Americans as compared to previous years. The cultural shift of America forced legislators into the concept of a feasible civil rights bill. There were hundreds of protests, demonstrations, and discriminatory events that caught law-makers’ eyes causing a bill to be brought about. James Baldwin commented on the situation when he said, “The American Negro will not support [war], however many of his people may be coerced—and there is a limit to the number of people any government can put in prison, and a rigid limit indeed to the practicality of such a course. A bill is coming in that I fear America is not prepared to pay” (Baldwin 345). Baldwin was not talking about a legislative bill; he was talking about a cost to society. Violence was a common occurrence at protests as well as just an ordinary day in the life of an African American. Baldwin stated in “The White Man’s Guilt”,