We live in a time where old practices are resurfacing due to our people in power. Discrimination and racism in public domains is nothing new here in the United States, this form of prejudice has led to the creation of laws that are supposedly meant to protect every minority, in this case the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but are the citizens within the United States abiding to these laws? While informing you of the importance of this law and what led to the creation of it, I will be introducing a supreme court case that led to the violation of the Civil Rights Act as well as how even under the Act there still is discrimination in professional workplaces in America.
After the civil war, there were multiple attempts at creating amendments to abolish slavery, but even years after this reconstruction the U.S. Congress refused to pass any civil rights acts until decades later discriminatory conditions were eventually investigated in 1957 by the Justice Department.
A few years later in 1961, President John F. Kennedy entered office and at first still delayed measures to be taken for anti-discrimination laws to be approved. What made Kennedy ultimately take action was the protests that arose in the South, where nonviolent participants were targeted by police brutality.
In June of 1963, President Kennedy proposed a civil rights legislation stating that the United States “will not be fully free until all of its citizens are free.” Unfortunately John F. Kennedy was assassinated November of that year, luckily his successor Lyndon B.
Johnson took it upon himself and signed the law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited segregation in public accommodations and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion. sex, and national origin.
Predictably, the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act caused an uproar in predominantly white Southern areas of the United States. A few months after the passing of the discrimination Act, a lawsuit was filed against the U.S. government in Atlanta, Georgia where the case was passed onto the Supreme Court. In the case Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc vs. United States, the motels white owner named Moreton Rolleston refused to provide service, rent any of the 200+ available rooms, and allow in any Black Americans, violating Title II from the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Moreton Rolleston filed the lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming that the Civil Rights Act violated his own rights, he claimed it to be unconstitutional because he was being forced to run his own business against the way he felt the right he wanted to.
Rolleston further alleged that his rights under Due Process were violated, those being his fifth and thirteen amendment rights. Rolleston believed his fifth amendment was violated, it was his business and he ran it the way he wanted to, and his thirteenth claiming that Congress was placing him under “involuntary servitude.” Under the Commerce Clause, the government was able to enjoin the Heart of Atlanta Motel from discrimination since it was between interstates 75 and 85. The United States District Court of Georgia concluded with the ruling of a permanent injunction to require Moreton Rolleston to refrain from using racial discrimination on its premises and allow any clients from any ethnicity and skin tone to be provided service.
As mentioned in my introduction, the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination within not only motels but also in work places. In professional environments, especially of those that tend to its citizens and their health, not many ask whether racial bias exists within the medical field. In an interview from uchigacomedicine.org, a second-year college student named Natalia Neha Khosla compared findings from her research between health care practices in the United States and France. She found, “…in the U.S., that the reason clinicians saw black patients as less likely to improve is because they saw those patients as less personally responsible for their health than white patients.” This means that people of color, for example, are deemed to be responsible for their own bad health, not going for check ups and not taking care of themselves properly meanwhile non-people of color aren’t.
Medical providers having preferences in race is something unheard of and not known by much, especially from hospitals that are in areas specifically for minority groups and are open to public, these medical practices violate Tittle II of the Civil Rights Act, and as discussed, is something that is swept under the rug by medical practitioners, depriving those of a different race and ethnicity of proper healthcare because of their skin color. On the other end of discrimination within medical practices are the nurses and doctors themselves. In 2013, a registered nurse named Tonya Battle sued a Flint, Michigan hospital for allowing a newborn patient’s father to refuse the care of black nurses.
The father went on to say and have the other nurses post a note that specifically instructed that “no African American nurse” to take care of the baby. Within the next month, African American nurses were instructed to not take care of the baby, leading to Tonya Battle and two other nurses to take action. The point of bringing these cases up, this has been something that has been surfacing up on the media lately, people of color and other minorities sharing their stories about how unfairly they are treated in contrast to other privileged citizens. The Civil Rights Act of 1964’s purpose was to prevent these types of happenings, and as my example it is something that people can easily get away within medical practices whether it be the patient or the doctor/nurse.
In conclusion, even fifty years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the United States there are still violations of Title II. From the Supreme Court case Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. vs. United States which set the example for motels and hotels around the U.S. to prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation to medical bias and discrimination towards people of color and minorities in professional environments such as hospitals, where it’s their job to serve its community it’s placed in no matter race or ethnicity.