Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959

From Ohio History Central

To help eliminate racial discrimination in Ohio, the Ohio General Assembly enacted the Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959.

This legislation replaced the Ohio Public Accommodations Law of 1884, which had prohibited discriminatory practices in public facilities. The State of Ohio had failed to enforce the earlier act's provisions. The Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959 was passed to "prevent and eliminate the practice of discrimination in employment against persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry." Intending to end segregated restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses, the act also guaranteed all people fair access to public facilities and private businesses.

The Ohio Civil Rights Act created the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to enforce the law. The commission initially conducted a study of discriminatory practices within the state and discovered that minority groups were commonly denied jobs and access to various businesses, including restaurants, bowling alleys, hotels, and other establishments. As the Ohio Civil Rights Commission began enforcing the Civil Rights Act, a number of organizations tried to avoid the law by becoming private clubs rather than businesses open to the public. Despite these attempts, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has been successful over the past several decades in achieving its goals. Several Ohio governors and the Ohio legislature have supported stricter laws that helped to eliminate racial discrimination.

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