The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States launched by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. With a goal of eliminating poverty and racial injustice, the Great Society programs expanded civil rights, public housing, Medicaid, food stamps, and environmental protection. While the Great Society did not fully achieve its goals, it did make significant progress in advancing racial equality in the United States.
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The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended segregation in public places and made it illegal to deny somebody the right to vote because of their race. The act also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was tasked with ensuring that employers did not discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been used to deny American citizens the right to vote. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965, and effective immediately, it barred states and local governments from imposing any voting qualification or prerequisite that had a discriminatory effect on racial minorities. In addition, the Act required states and localities with a history of discrimination in voting to receive preapproval from the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before changing any voting laws or practices.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was one of the most impactful pieces of legislation to come out of the Great Society. It made it illegal to refuse to sell or rent a house, apartment, or other dwelling to any person because of race, religion, national origin, or sex. The act also prohibited discrimination in advertising and in the financing of housing.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC’s job is to reduce workplace discrimination and harassment. It does this by investigating complaints of discrimination, negotiating with employers to improve their policies, and filing lawsuits against employers who engage in discriminatory practices.
The Great Society also established affirmative action programs, which are designed to help groups that have been historically discriminated against (such as minorities and women) to get jobs and education. These programs have been controversial, but they have made a significant impact on racial equality in the United States.
The Office of Economic Opportunity
The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was created in 1964 as part of the Great Society. The goals of the OEO were to help eliminate poverty and racial oppression and to increase opportunities for all Americans.
One of the OEO’s most important programs was the Job Corps, which provided training and education to disadvantaged youth. Another key program was Head Start, which gave low-income preschoolers a head start on their education.
The OEO also worked to improve housing conditions for low-income Americans and to increase access to legal services. In addition, the OEO helped establish community action programs, which gave poor people a greater role in decisions that affected their lives.
Despite its many accomplishments, the OEO was often criticized for being too bureaucratic and for not doing enough to fight poverty. In 1973, the OEO was abolished by President Nixon.
The War on Poverty
The War on Poverty was one of the most ambitious social programs in American history. It was designed to address the root causes of poverty, including lack of access to education, jobs, and healthcare. The Great Society also included a number of initiatives aimed at supporting racial equality, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the War on Poverty did not end poverty in America, it did make significant progress in reducing poverty and improving the lives of millions of Americans.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, was a piece of sweeping legislation that changed the face of immigration in the United States. Prior to its passing, the U.S. had a quota system that heavily favored immigrants from Europe. The Hart-Celler Act did away with this system and replaced it with a preference system that gave priority to skilled workers and family members of U.S. citizens and residents. This act also abolished the racist National Origins Formula, which had been used to determine immigration quotas since the 1920s.
The Hart-Celler Act was a significant piece of legislation in the fight for racial equality. It opened up opportunities for people from all over the world to come to the United States, regardless of their skin color or country of origin. This act was an important step in dismantling the white supremacist ideology that had been used to justify discriminatory immigration policies for decades.
The National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency that promotes excellence in scholarship and learning in the humanities. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.
In addition to supporting research and education in the traditional humanities disciplines, NEH also funds projects that bring the humanities to public life. These projects can take many forms, including exhibits, film screenings, conferences, and educational programs.
One of the most important ways NEH has contributed to racial equality is through its support of scholarship on African American history and culture. This work has helped to change the way we think about race in America and has inspired people of all backgrounds to strive for a more just society.
Some of the NEH-funded projects that have made a lasting impact on our understanding of race in America include:
-The American indexes listed below document slave ships that transported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to North America between 1525 and 1866. These documents provide information about who was enslaved, where they came from, and how they were treated during their voyage.
-The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) is a partnership between NEH and the Library of Congress that encourages the digitization of historical newspapers from all 50 states. The goal of this project is to make America’s newspaper heritage accessible to all Americans. This project has had a significant impact on our understanding of African American history, as it has made previously hidden stories available to scholars and the public alike.
-The Freedmen’s Bureau Online presents a collection of more than 130,000 documents relating to African Americans who were freed from slavery during or after the Civil War. These documents provide insights into the lives of former slaves as they attempted to build new lives for themselves and their families in a country that was often hostile towards them.
The National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established in 1965 as an independent federal agency to support artists and arts organizations, and to encourage public engagement in the arts. The NEA is the largest funder of the arts in the United States, awarding grants to organizations and individuals in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories.
In 1967, the NEA awarded its first grant to an African American artist, Alma Thomas. Thomas’s painting “Wine Dark Sea” was hung in the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of a program to increase racial diversity in government buildings. The NEA has continued to support artists of color through its grant programs, ensuring that diverse perspectives are represented in the American arts landscape.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a private, nonprofit corporation created by an act of Congress in 1967. It is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. CPB provides nearly 70% of the funding that goes to the more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations across America, which reach nearly 90% of American homes.