The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent legislation were major triumphs for the Civil Rights Movement. However, they were passed only after a long battle. There are three general reasons that this legislation was finally passed.
First, public opinion was changing in the 1950's and 1960's. Between 1959 and 1965, the proportion of southern whites who approved of letting their children attend a school with black students more than doubled while the proportion of northern whites stayed generally over 60%. By 1980, both southern and northern whites had an approximately 70% approval. This change in attitude also applied to equal access to hotels and buses in other polls. Although support in principle for these civil rights measures was not necessarily the same as support in practice, there was clearly a major shift in popular approval of at least the same principles of civil rights. Because of this attitude change in whites, the Civil Rights Act was easier to pass. .
Second, the attitudes of congressmen changed between 1957 and 1988. In 1957, no southern whites in the House and only about 13& of southern whites in the Senate supported the Bills. By 1988, nearly 100% of the southern whites in the Senate and about 85% of southern whites in the House supported the Bills. Since the 1960's, congressional support for civil rights legislation has grown so much that labeling a bill a civil rights measure now almost guarantees its passage. This change reflects the change of power in Congress. The 1964 elections produced a democratic majority in congress as well as a democratic president who all wanted to pass civil rights legislation because of President Kennedy's assassination. As the democrats came in to power, more Bills concerning civil rights were passed. Between 1957 and 1968, five civil rights bills were passed. Between the changes in the attitudes of southern whites in general and the increasing popularity of civil rights, more black officials were elected in the United States.