Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts of Congress Referenced in Black Americans in Congress

Title Public Law (PL) and Statute (Stat.)Main Provisions
Thirteenth Amendment13 Stat. 567;
13 Stat. 774
Abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Approved by the 38th Congress (1863–1865) as S.J. Res. 16; ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.
Civil Rights Act of 186614 Stat. 27Declared all persons (except Native Americans) born or naturalized in the United States to be citizens. Guaranteed the rights of all citizens to make and enforce contracts and to purchase, sell, or lease property. Passed by the 39th Congress (1865–1867) as S. 61.
Fourteenth Amendment14 Stat. 358; 15 Stat. 706Declared that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. were citizens and that any state that denied or abridged the voting rights of men over the age of 21 would be subject to proportional reductions in its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Approved by the 39th Congress (1865–1867) as H.J. Res. 127; ratified by the states on July 9, 1868.
First Reconstruction Act14 Stat. 428Divided the former Confederate States (except Tennessee) into five military districts, each administered by a general charged with maintaining law and order. Required the former Confederate states to adopt new constitutions, ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, and allow African-American suffrage as conditions for readmission to the Union. Passed by the 39th Congress (1865–1867) as H.R. 1143.
Second Reconstruction Act15 Stat. 2Provided for the election of delegates to participate in constitutional conventions in each of the former Confederate states. Required the governors of each military district to register all male citizens to vote, provided that they were at least 21 years old, have taken an oath of loyalty, and have not been disenfranchised for participating in rebellion against the United States. Required drafts of state constitutions to be submitted to Congress for approval. Passed by the 40th Congress (1867–1869) as H.R. 33.
Third Reconstruction Act15 Stat. 14Granted the governors of each military district established in the former Confederate states absolute authority over all civilian and military officials at the state and local level. Granted the governors of each military district the power to determine the eligibility of voters. Passed by the 40th Congress (1867–1869) as H.R. 123.
Fourth Reconstruction Act15 Stat. 41Specified that any election to select the delegates to the constitutional conventions of each of the former Confederate states, as well as any election to adopt a new constitution in said states, must be decided by a majority of the votes actually cast, not by a majority of the number of registered voters. Passed by the 40th Congress (1867–1869) as H.R. 214.
Fifteenth Amendment15 Stat. 346; 16 Stat. 1131Prohibited states from depriving a citizen of his right to vote because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Approved by the 40th Congress (1867–1869) as S.J. Res. 8; ratified by the states on February 3, 1870.
First Enforcement Act16 Stat. 140Prohibited discrimination in voter registration on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Established penalties for interfering with a person’s right to vote. Gave federal courts the power to enforce the act and to employ the use of federal marshals and the Army to uphold it. Passed by the 41st Congress (1869–1871) as H.R. 1293.
Second Enforcement Act16 Stat. 433Allowed federal circuit judges to appoint supervisors to monitor federal elections. Authorized U.S. Marshals to employ deputies to maintain order at polling places. Passed by the 41st Congress (1869–1871) as H.R. 2634.
Third Enforcement Act (Ku Klux Klan Act)17 Stat. 13Enforced the Fourteenth Amendment by guaranteeing all citizens of the United States the rights afforded by the Constitution and provided legal protection under the law. Held state governments liable for failure to provide all citizens with equal protection under the law. Empowered the President to suspend habeas corpus in areas deemed to be in rebellion against the government. Passed by the 42nd Congress (1871–1873) as H.R. 320.
Civil Rights Act of 187518 Stat. 335Barred discrimination in public accommodations and on public conveyances on land and water. Prohibited the exclusion of African Americans from jury duty. Passed by the 43rd Congress (1873–1875) as H.R. 796.
Nineteenth Amendment41 Stat. 362; 41 Stat. 1823Granted women the right to vote in the United States. Approved by the 66th Congress (1919–1921) as H.J. Res. 1; ratified by the states on August 18, 1920.
Civil Rights Act of 1957PL 85–315; 71 Stat. 634Created the six-member Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission was ordered to document cases in which certain citizens were deprived of their right to vote, and to report on the effectiveness of existing federal law with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. Established the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. Authorized the U.S. Attorney General to seek court injunctions against deprivation and obstruction of voting rights by state officials. Passed by the 85th Congress (1957–1959) as H.R. 6127.
Civil Rights Act of 1960PL 86–449; 74 Stat. 86Expanded the enforcement powers of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 regarding voting rights and introduced criminal penalties for obstructing the implementation of federal court orders. Required that voting and registration records for federal elections be preserved. Passed by the 86th Congress (1959–1961) as H.R. 8601.
Twenty-fourth Amendment76 Stat. 1259; 78 Stat. 1117Outlawed the poll tax as a requirement in federal elections. Approved by the 87th Congress (1961–1963) as S.J. Res. 29; ratified by the states on January 23, 1964.
Civil Rights Act of 1964PL 88–352; 78 Stat. 241Prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and schools. Outlawed discrimination in federally funded projects. Prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to monitor employment discrimination. Provided additional capacities to enforce voting rights. Extended the Civil Rights Commission for four years. Passed by the 88th Congress (1963–1965) as H.R. 7152.
Voting Rights Act of 19651PL 89–110; 79 Stat. 437Suspended the use of literacy tests as a requirement to vote. Authorized the use of federal examiners to supervise voter registration in states that used literacy tests or in which less than half of the voting-eligible residents registered or voted. Established preclearance requirements in certain jurisdictions that prohibited changes in voting procedures without permission from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Directed the U.S. Attorney General to institute proceedings against use of poll taxes. Passed by the 89th Congress (1965–1967) as S. 1564.
Civil Rights Act of 1968
(Fair Housing Act)
PL 90–284; 82 Stat. 73Established the first federal hate crimes statute. Prohibited the use of force to injure, intimidate, or otherwise interfere with any person on account of their race, color, religion, or national origin. Prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing. Passed by the 90th Congress (1967–1969) as H.R. 2516.
Voting Rights Act
Amendments of 19701
PL 91–285; 84 Stat. 314Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act for five years. Passed by the 91st Congress (1969–1971) as H.R. 4249.
Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972PL 92–261; 86 Stat. 103Provided the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with the authority to bring federal lawsuits against employers accused of engaging in discriminatory employment practices. Expanded the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, extending its anti-employment discrimination provisions to cover educational institutions, state and local governments, and private employers with at least 15 employees. Passed by the 92nd Congress (1971–1973) as H.R. 1746.
Voting Rights Act
Amendments of 1975
PL 94–73; 89 Stat. 400Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act for seven years. Permanently banned literacy tests. Provided for bilingual election materials in jurisdictions with significant language minority populations. Passed by the 94th Congress (1975–1977) as H.R. 6219.
Voting Rights Act
Amendments of 19821
PL 97–205; 96 Stat. 131Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. Allowed jurisdictions that could provide evidence of maintaining a clean voting rights record for at least 10 years to avoid preclearance coverage (the requirement of federal approval of any change to local or state voting laws). Provided for aid and instruction to disabled or illiterate voters. Extended the requirement for bilingual election materials in jurisdictions with significant language minority populations. Passed by the 97th Congress (1981–1983) as H.R. 3112.
Civil Rights Restoration
Act of 1987
PL 100–259; 102 Stat. 28Established that antidiscrimination laws are applicable to an entire organization if any part of the organization receives federal funds. Passed by the 100th Congress (1987–1989) as S. 557.
Fair Housing
Amendments Act of 1988
PL 100–430; 102 Stat. 1619Strengthened the powers of enforcement granted to the Housing and Urban Development Department in the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Passed by the 100th Congress (1987–1989) as H.R. 1158.
Civil Rights Act of 1991PL 102–166; 105 Stat. 1071Reversed a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions rendered in the 1980s that weakened existing civil rights laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Provided for plaintiffs to receive monetary damages in cases of harassment or discrimination based on sex, religion, or disability. Established the Glass Ceiling Commission to study and make recommendations to eliminate barriers to the advancement of women and racial minorities in corporate hierarchies. Passed by the 102nd Congress (1991–1993) as S. 1745.
Voting Rights Act of 20061PL 109–246; 120 Stat. 577Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act and bilingual election requirements for 25 years. Directed the U.S. Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the implementation, effectiveness, and efficiency of bilingual voting materials requirements. Passed by the 109th Congress (2005–2007) as H.R. 9.
Emmett Till Antilynching ActPL 117–107; 136 Stat. 1125Specifies lynching as a federal hate crime. Establishes criminal penalties for any hate crime that results in death, serious injury, kidnapping, or aggravated sexual abuse. Passed by the 117th Congress (2021–2023) as H.R. 55.


1In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act, which was used to determine which jurisdictions would be subject to preclearance requirements for making changes to their voting procedures. The decision, known as Shelby County v. Holder, effectively removed preclearance requirements from all jurisdictions.