50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

by baldilocks

With respect to how I look at things, some observers have said that my view often gives a previously un-articulated perspective—a compliment. Others have called my views contrarian—not a compliment; the implication being that I intentionally take a side on a given topic about which few others or no others are taking.

The truth is that I can’t help my oddness. I was born this way; ask my parents. Of course, an example follows.

I’ve long been mulling over how the Civil Rights Act of 1964—its 50th anniversary is tomorrow– has adversely affected how we view the rights of American businesses owners to run their businesses as they see fit. It seems to me that the CRA’s language conflates the definitions of public and private with respect to businesses.

We’ve all read about the Bad Old Days, and some of us lived through them. The President Wilson-mandated segregation in government service lasted until President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which, among other things, desegregated the U. S. Armed Forces.  However, state and locally mandated segregation stemmed from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and, though Brown v. Board of Education (1954) signaled the end, that end did not happen immediately.

Woolworth’s Sit-in. 1960.

Public services—buses, trains, etc.– were segregated by law, but so were privately owned businesses—that is, businesses not “owned” by any level of government. And, while these laws were directed at black Americans, they didn’t just apply to them, but to all other Americans as well. Therefore, even if a white business owner did not want to segregate his business, he was compelled to do so under pain of prosecution. The issue was freedom and government did what it usually does: curtail it for all concerned.

Fast forward to the Civil Rights Act. It outlaws discrimination in public services—that is, services which are paid for by taxpayers: public transportation, public schools, public parks, etc. That’s a good thing. However, it refers to private businesses (“accommodations”) as public services. 

Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters…

And, this is the basis for the confusion we see now for what a business owner may or may not do and his/her choices as to whom he/she is willing to provide goods and/or services. Remember the sit-ins? Brave and admirable, but the very act betrayed a dearth of education and an abundance of indoctrination.

One wonders if the conflation in the CRA language was done on purpose—to taint the document that underscored the 14th Amendment. Or, perhaps the purpose was to make government control of individuals and their money easier. (I’m sure that a few Dixiecrats used the latter reasoning to oppose the CRA. But when your enemy says something logical, it doesn’t make that thing less logical–or less true.)

I don’t know. However, there should no longer be any wonder that a Christian business owner is legally compelled to service a same–sex “marriage” ceremony.

My opinion: there should be a legal method of outlawing mandated segregation without mandating integration of any sort. But, doing that would required a politically educated populace, rather than a politically-indoctrinated, emotionally-charged one ready to scream RACIST!!! at the drop of a hat.

Besides, I think we’re almost to the point where certain types of separation will occur again. Let’s pray that these will be as painless as possible.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!baldilocks