Remembering the Civil Rights Act 50 Years Later

July 2, 2014

On July 2, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights act into law, outlawing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

“I think the main reason it was so important is because it comes at the heels of all of the unrest that was happening in the south,” says Barbara Perry, senior fellow at the Miller Center.

Perry has done extensive research on the Civil Rights Act and explained that it was a major move against the Jim Crow laws that were in effect in the southern states.

“Congress under its right and authority to regulate interstate commerce could therefore require all public accommodation that acted as a business in interstate commerce to have to serve all comers all people who walked in the front door, who wanted to see the movie or stay at the hotel or eat at the restaurant,” says Perry.

“Now people are talking about gay rights as the next front or the next frontier to move beyond discrimination that has occurred both in public and private.”

Perry says that while we have come a long way since the signing of the Civil Rights Act, we still have a ways to go.

“We have to look back 50 years and see how far we have come,” says Perry. “Especially since we have the first African American president in Barack Obama, in the white house, in the same oval office where Lyndon B. Johnson signed the civil rights act on July 2nd 1964.”

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