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How Segregationists Handed Feminists a 1964 “Civil Rights” Victory Against the Family On February 8, 1964, Howard J. Smith, Democrat of Virginia, grinning broadly, rose to address the United States House of Representatives. It was no usual practice for the House to meet on a Saturday. This urgent schedule had been set two days  earlier, when the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House, under the leadership of the Committee Chairman, rather than the Speaker. But then the legislation before the House was no usual bill. It was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, intended to end discrimination against minority groups in voting, public accommodations, public facilities, public education, federally assisted programs, and private employment. The language of the bill, as it stood that fateful Saturday morning, prohibited such discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.” The bill had actually been introduced in 1963, a year marked by dramatic and violent events in the eight-year civil-rights campaign by black Americans. In April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama for leading anti-segregation protests. In June, civil-rights activist Medgar Evers had been shot to death in Jackson, Mississippi. In August, King had delivered his electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech to a record crowd of 250,000 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. In September, four young black girls had been killed in a Birmingham church bombing. Racial demonstrations and confrontations had swept the South, with no end in sight. The nation feared worse to come. And November 1963 had brought the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who had been—at least in public—a strong civil-rights advocate. This shocking crime left the presidency in the hands of former vice-president Lyndon Johnson, who had earlier, as a senator from Texas, opposed the expansion of civil rights for blacks. But now, in February 1
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