On July 2, 1964, with Martin Luther King, Jr., directly behind him, President Lyndon Johnson scrawled his signature on a document years in the making—the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on, 07/02/1964. (The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)
The first and the signature pages of the act will be on display at the National Archives Rubenstein Gallery in Washington, DC, until September 17, 2014. These 50-year-old sheets of paper represent years of struggle and society’s journey toward justice.
The most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era, the Civil Right Act finally gave the Federal Government the means to enforce the promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The act prohibited discrimination in public places, allowed the integration of public facilities and schools, and forbade discrimination in employment.
But such a landmark congressional enactment was by no means achieved easily…
Plus more on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
- Don’t miss the new Civil Rights Act of 1964 Exhibit in Google’s Cultural Institute
- Events at the National Archives in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
- Teaching resources at The Struggle for Rights in America, via DocsTeach
- See all the pages of the Civil Rights Act in the National Archives online catalog