Civil Rights Act of 1957
September 9, 1957
The U.S. Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Its purpose was to show the federal government’s support for racial equality after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In 1957, only about 20% of blacks were registered to vote, having been effectively disfranchised by discriminatory voter registration rules and laws in those states. In an attempt to the block the bill, Senator Strom Thurmond sustained a filibuster of 1 hour and 18 minutes, the longest continuous one-person filibuster in history. Thurmond read every U.S. state’s election laws, excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Washington’s Farewell Address, and even Thurmond’s grandmother’s biscuit recipe.
This was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the U.S. Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875.