The Civil Rights Act of 1957, Pub.L. 85–315, 71 Stat. 634, enacted September 9, 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress"s show of support for the Supreme Court"s Brown decisions, the Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which had eventually led to the integration, also called desegregation, of public schools. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Southern whites in Virginia began a "Massive Resistance." Violence against blacks rose there and in other states, as in Little Rock, Arkansas where that year President Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered in federal troops to protect nine children integrating into a public school, the first time the federal government had sent troops to the South since the Reconstruction era. There had been continued physical assaults against suspected activists and bombings of schools and churches in the South. The administration of Eisenhower proposed legislation to protect the right to vote by African Americans.
Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, an ardent segregationist, sustained the longest one-person filibuster in history in an attempt to keep the bill from becoming law. His one-man filibuster lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes; he began with readings of every state"s election laws in alphabetical order. Thurmond later read from the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and George Washington"s Farewell Address. His speech set the record for a Senate filibuster. The bill passed the House with a vote of 285 to 126 (Republicans 167–19 for, Democrats 118–107 for) and the Senate 72 to 18 (Republicans 43–0 for, Democrats 29–18 for). [clarification needed] President Eisenhower signed it on September 9, 1957.
The goal of the 1957 Civil Rights Act was to ensure that all Americans could exercise their right to vote. By 1957, only about 20% of African Americans were registered to vote. Despite