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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Equal treatment of all Americans, regardless of race, was a major debate for decades in the U.S. Congress. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy urged Congress to take action. Passage of the act was not easy. We’ll be exploring some of the key moments for the Civil Rights Act throughout the day.

On June 19, 1964, the Senate passed the Civil Right Act of 1964, 73 to 27. The House passed the amended bill on July 2, 289 to 126.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson just a few hours after House approval on July 2. The act outlawed segregation in businesses such as theaters, restaurants, and hotels. It banned discriminatory practices in employment and education. Title VII of the act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to implement the law.

Roll Call Tally on Civil Rights Act 1964, 6/19/1964, Records of the U.S. Senate

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Equal treatment of all Americans, regardless of race, was a major debate for decades in the U.S. Congress. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy urged Congress to take action. Passage of the act was not easy. We’ll be exploring some of the key moments for the Civil Rights Act throughout the day.

Shortly after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged them to pass Civil Rights legislation to honor Kennedy’s memory. He said,

…no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long. We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. We have talked for one hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the books of law.“

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress, 11/27/1963, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives