A Chronology of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Robert D. Loevy
February 28,1963. President John F. Kennedy sends a "Special Message on Civil Rights" to Congress along with proposed improvements in voting rights laws and an extension of the Civil Rights Commission. Civil rights supporters praise Kennedy for his stirring words but criticize his legislative proposals as "weak."
April-May, 1963. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., leads an extended series of civil rights protests against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. King is arrested and writes his famous "A Letter from the Birmingham Jail." Blacks riot for four hours following the bombing of King's motel room (King was out of town that night) in Birmingham.
June 11, 1963. Alabama Governor George Wallace "stands aside" at the University of Alabama and two black students register for classes. That evening, President Kennedy addresses the nation on television and pledges to send a strengthened civil rights bill to Congress. The president says: "The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. . . . Next week I shall ask the Congress . . . to make a commitment . . . to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law."