Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act is one of the most significant civil rights achievements in U.S. history.
The law made it illegal to discriminate against citizens on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; ending school, work and public building discrimination.
Five hours after Congress approved the law, Johnson signed it, then turned and handed pens to various key figures in getting the legislation passed, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He went on to address the country in a nationally televised address, saying the law was a challenge for the United States to “eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country.”
In observing the law’s 50th anniversary Wednesday, President Barack Obama said “few pieces of legislation have defined our national identity as distinctly, or as powerfully.”
“It transformed the concepts of justice, equality, and democracy for generations to come,” Obama said.
We must never forget the path paved by those brave enough to stand up for the rights of African Americans. To you, we owe a debt than can never been fully repaid. Your bravery is unmatched. Thank you.
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