The forgotten “wade-ins” that transformed the US.
When we think of the most iconic moments of the US civil rights movement, we might imagine bus boycotts, lunch counter sit-ins, or the March on Washington. Most of us don’t think of protests at beaches and pools. These were the “wade-ins” of the 1950s and ’60s, in which demonstrators demanded equal access by stepping into whites-only waters. And although it’s overlooked by most history textbooks, one summer of protest in the small coastal city of St. Augustine, Florida, played a crucial role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This fight was about more than just enjoying a public beach — it was about who gets to control where Black bodies can swim, relax, and simply exist. And it followed a long history of recreational spaces becoming flashpoints of racial conflict.
— Credits & Context
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later sexual orientation. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, and employment discrimination.
Initially, powers given to enforce the act were weak, but these were supplemented during later years. Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment, and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment.
The legislation had been proposed by President John F. Kennedy in June 1963, but it was opposed by filibuster in the Senate. After Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the bill forward. The United States House of Representatives passed the bill on February 10, 1964, and after a 54-day filibuster, it passed the United States Senate on June 19, 1964. The final vote was 290–130 in the House of Representatives and 73–27 in the Senate. After the House agreed to a subsequent Senate amendment, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson at the White House on July 2, 1964.
Source – Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Updated: 30 September 2020) Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964, (Accessed: 01 October 2020)