AKA The Civil Rights Act of 1964 granted equal right protections to 100 million Americans, created 380 federal jobs (over the first 5 years) at an annual estimated cost of $16 million per year (also over the first 5 years), all dedicated to those protections.Â It was the immediate culmination of MLK’s work, and the beginning of the journey toward his dream.
Interestingly, the protections extended to the vast majority of the people effected by this bill were there only by virtue of the “law of unintended consequences”.
For obvious, albeit nonsensical, reasons there was considerable opposition to the resolution.Â One of the attempts to kill the bill was a legislative tactic called a “killer” amendment.Â In essence, an amendment that common sense dictated would preclude anyone from voting for the bill.Â it appears that Rep. Howard Smith of Virginia lacked some of the common sense he was hoping to exploit because his attempt to kill the bill backfired badly in his face (much to the joy of millions of Americans).
What was the killer amendment that passed along with the bill itself? It was simply adding one single word to the document.Â The word “sex”.Â With those three letters Smith, quite inadvertently, and completely against his intentions, ushered in government efforts to promote gender equality in the workplace.
Here’s to you Rep. Smith, you don’t get it (or at least didn’t at the time, probably in more ways than one), but thanks to you, over half the people in the country did!!!