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.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 , 07/02/1964

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…

Keep reading at Prologue: Pieces of History » Now On Display: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Plus more on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

LBJ Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Fifty years ago, the work of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act.  Passage was not easy and depended on the painstaking efforts of civil rights leaders, cooperation in a resistant Senate, and growth in public support.

When the bill was finally signed on July 2, 1964, it was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.  

This week, The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas honors this historic legislation.  Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, and Carter are part of the Summit, joining a full schedule of programs that address the civil rights issues we face today.

Watch the live stream of the Civil Rights Summit here.

Follow the journey of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Google Cultural Institute.

Explore Civil Rights Presidential History here.


LBJ Signs the Civil Right Act of 1964 - Fifty Years Ago Today

On this day in 1964, President  Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex in public accommodations such as hotels, theaters, parks, restaurants, and other public places.

The act also authorized the withdrawal of Federal funds from programs that practice discrimination. It discouraged job discrimination through the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Additionally, it authorized the Attorney General to bring lawsuits against schools practicing segregation, and made the Commission on Civil Rights a permanent organization. 


The Civil Rights Act of 1964, page 5. 

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act with Martin Luther King, Jr. and others behind him.  East Room, White House. 7/2/64.

-from the LBJ Library