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The Civil Rights Act At 50, And Beyond

Voting rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, social segregation. Fifty years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

In this July 2, 1964 file photo, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, are Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill.; Rep. Clarence Brown, R-Ohio; Sen. Hubert Humphrey, D-Minn.; Rep. Charles Halleck, R-Ind.; Rep. William McCullough, R-Ohio; and Rep. Emanuel Celler, D-N.Y. (AP)

In this July 2, 1964 file photo, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, are Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill.; Rep. Clarence Brown, R-Ohio; Sen. Hubert Humphrey, D-Minn.; Rep. Charles Halleck, R-Ind.; Rep. William McCullough, R-Ohio; and Rep. Emanuel Celler, D-N.Y. (AP)

Fifty years ago today, July 2, President Lyndon Baines Johnson – LBJ – signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.  JFK had raised the call for it, then been assassinated.  In the nation’s grief, as Martin Luther King, Jr. led protests across the South, Johnson pushed it through.  After a century of Jim Crow that had cut African-Americans off from hotels, restaurants, stores and much more, the Civil Rights Act said no, and launched an era of reform.  Today, the talk is of voting rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, inequality and, yes, still race.  This hour On Point: Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, where we stand.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. Author of “Indomitable Will: LBJ In the Presidency.” (@MarkKUpdegrove)

Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. (@barbs73)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Equality still elusive 50 years after Civil Rights Act  — “Fifty years later, on the eve of Monday’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the battle to end overt discrimination has been far more successful than the effort to attain economic, educational or social equality. Blacks have made huge strides in high school education but still lag in college graduation rates. Their incomes have risen and poverty rates have declined, but a mammoth wealth gap remains, along with persistently high unemployment rates.”

Huffington Post: The Major Disadvantage Facing Black Students, Even In Kindergarten — “Sixty years after the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education integrated the nation’s classrooms, black and white students still largely attend different schools, even during their earliest years. A recent analysis from liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) outlines the severe segregation that exists among kindergarten classrooms. ”

Los Angeles Times: The cross-racial, cross-party push to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — “It is a measure of how desperately this country needed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that when John F. Kennedy finally proposed it in June 1963 — and when Lyndon B. Johnson signed it 50 years ago this week — only five of the 535 members of Congress were black. Nearly a century after the end of the Civil War, the promise of emancipation was still unmet and legal equality — in the voting booth, in public accommodations and in employment — remained a dream deferred for millions of black Americans, especially in the South.”

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