NOW Celebrates Civil Rights Signing Day

Sixty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964—one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in history.

Here’s a link to President Johnson’s historic speech on that occasion.  But watching it today, we see even more clearly how we are now living through the most challenging time for civil rights since the dark days of segregation.

As National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial writes in the “State of Black America 2024, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: 60 Years Later”,

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 promised ‘a more abiding commitment to freedom, a more constant pursuit of justice, and a deeper respect for human dignity.

Sixty years later, our ‘abiding commitment to freedom’ is undermined by discriminatory voter ID laws, gerrymandering, the shuttering of polling places in predominantly minority neighborhoods, limits on early voting, and reckless purging of voter rolls.

Our ‘pursuit of justice’ is derailed by persistent racism in policing and sentencing, the dismantling of diversity and inclusion policies in employment and education, and the lack of access to financial services, housing, and healthcare.

And our ‘respect for human dignity’ is called into question by an unraveling social safety net, a poverty-level federal minimum wage, and other economic policies that uplift the wealthy at the expense of working families.”

In his proclamation on the 60th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Biden said,

“It is still the task of our time to build a democracy where every American is treated with dignity and has an equal opportunity to follow their dreams.”  When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he called the bill “a proud triumph” in a “long struggle for freedom” and equal rights for Black people in America.

President Johnson called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country.”

Today, we know that those vestiges of injustice are far from being on their last legs.  NOW members are united in honoring the promise of the Civil Rights Act by fighting to keep it strong.