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When he became president through the assassination of President Kennedy, he not only accepted the civil rights agenda of President Kennedy but he was successful in passing pivotal legislation. Through shrewd deal making and lobbying of senators he was able to get a bill passed which prohibited segregation in places involved in interstate commerce.
The following year when attempts were made to restore voting rights to blacks in the south President Johnson again played a critical role. The televising of the beating of black demonstrators in Selma Alabama created the correct climate for the president to advance the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspended literacy tests in most of the South and allowed "federal registrars and marshals to enroll African-American voters." 20 The combined effect of these two acts was to render much of the Jim Crow state laws illegal. While some touted this as major achievements for many in the African-American communities these pieces of legislation did not go far enough, for others in the white community this posed an even greater threat. 21
In the social arena, there were companion events that worked harmoniously with the presidential agenda to bring about the final demise of Jim Crow. A principal plank was laid by watershed the decision of the Supreme Court in Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka. This decision declared that the practice and notion of separate but equal was unconstitutional. There was no longer any legal cover for the overtly discriminatory practices. This decision galvanized the civil rights movement and gave greater courage to the supporters of the movement.
The civil rights movement itself was a critical component that brought about the end of Jim Crow laws. The African-Americans in the South engaged in various acts of civil disobedience to protest unjust and unfair Jim Crow laws. They actively engaged in sit-ins, marches, and boycotts to send the message that segregation and discrimination were reprehensible. The massive march on Washington in which it is estimated over 200,000 persons participated sent the clear signal that Jim Crow was done. This was primarily because the march involved not only African-Americans but also White Americans. This unity was a visible demonstration of the probable future of America. The passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act removed the final legal supports for Jim Crow.
The era of Jim Crow is an era marked with discrimination, violence, and oppression of a people. African-Americans are Americans and deserve the same freedoms and rights as white Americans. Jim Crow was an attempt to keep power in the hands of whites at the expense of social cohesion. It is evident that a multiplicity of factors cohered to produce and sustain the Jim Crow social structure. Hence, multiple factors were required to remove the pillars of that structure. Unfortunately, vestiges of that system remains and must be resisted to ensure that all Americans benefit from the opportunities and resources of the country.
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