April 9, 2016 — Los Angeles, California
The Humane Party, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, has today established April 9 as Civil Rights Day. Civil Rights Day will be celebrated annually on April 9 both (i) to commemorate previous civil rights victories and (ii) to promote additional legislation and action to secure the civil rights of all persons.
History of the Civil Rights Act of 1866
Passed just months after ratification of the 13th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was an “Act to Protect All Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and Furnish the Means of their Vindication.” Among other provisions, the Act granted citizenship to all persons born in the U.S. “of every race and color”.
The Civil Rights Act was designed to supersede the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), in which Democrat Roger B. Taney wrote for the majority that blacks could not be U.S. citizens. The Civil Rights Act was also designed to override the so-called “Black Codes”, which had been passed in various Democrat-controlled states in an attempt to suppress former slaves who had been recently freed by the 13th Amendment. President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Act in March, 1866, but the Republican-controlled Congress overrode his veto, enacting the Civil Rights Act on April 9, 1866, which became the first Act of such magnitude to be passed over a Presidential veto.
In anticipation of likely Constitutional challenges, principles of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 were soon incorporated into the 14th Amendment, which was first proposed in June, 1866, and finally ratified in 1868.
Civil rights today
The movement to guarantee the civil rights of all persons in the U.S. continues to the present day. Civil Rights Day is a celebration whereby efforts to secure these rights can be empowered and promoted. Such efforts include, for example, the Equal Rights Amendment II (ERA2), which guarantees equality under the law, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender, or choice of spouse or partner.