[Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964], many governments in southern states forced people to segregate by race. Civil rights advocates fought to repeal these state laws, but failed. So they appealed to the federal government, which responded with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But this federal law didn't simply repeal state laws compelling segregation. It also prohibited voluntary segregation. What had been mandatory became forbidden. Neither before nor after the Civil Rights Act were people free to make their own decisions about who they associated with.