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Nation Marks 50 Years Since Passage Of Civil Rights Act

Reported by: Send eMail Heath Harrison
Reported: Jul. 2, 2014 6:43 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 2, 2014 11:35 PM EDT
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CRA Anniversary
Library of Congress Photo

Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, the nation marked 50 years since the Civil Rights Act took effect.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the landmark legislation, the culmination of the civil rights movement, on July 2, 1964. Johnson's predecessor, John F. Kennedy, had called for the legislation in a 1963 speech.

The act brought an end to discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and ended racial segregation in facilities and businesses used by the general public. The act also banned unequal application of voter registration requirements.

President Barack Obama hailed the significance of the act, stating, "few pieces of legislation have defined our national identity as distinctly, or as powerfully."

"The Civil Rights Act brought us closer to making real the declaration at the heart of our founding – that we are all created equal. But that journey continues," Obama said. "A half a century later, we’re still working to tear down barriers and put opportunity within reach for every American, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. So as we celebrate this anniversary and the undeniable progress we’ve made over the past 50 years, we also remember those who have fought tirelessly to perfect our union, and recommit ourselves to making America more just, more equal and more free."

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also noted the 50th anniversary of the legislation.

“Few moments in the history of Congress resonate with as much historical significance as the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," Rockefeller said in a statement. "We remember the extraordinary courage of so many people who fought for that law. Today, we are a far better people because of the brave and monumental step our representatives, President Johnson and civil rights leaders took toward fulfilling the reality of a nation in which all men and women are acknowledged as being created equal. Today’s anniversary should be marked by a renewing of our hearts and minds toward fully achieving that noble goal of ensuring our society truly is accepting of all people.”



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