books on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

18BOYLE-master675-v3Kevin Boyle at The New York Times:

Over the past century, Congress has passed only a handful of truly transformative pieces of legislation. The Social Security Act comes to mind, as do the G.I. Bill, the Marshall Plan, the laws that created a mammoth military and laid down a web of highways, and the reforms that reopened the nation to immigration. Visionary laws — each and every one — meant to achieve policy aims of striking originality.

Then there’s the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its provisions were simple enough: The key sections outlawed the segregation of public spaces and prohibited employers and federal agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or national origin. But the act’s significance extended far beyond its particulars, its purpose defined as much by morality as policy. Drafted in the midst of a crisis created by the courage of children, pushed through the Senate past the defenders of an indefensible social order, it marked one of those extraordinary moments when the promise and practice of equality align and democracy is affirmed.

more here.