Today in History--July 2

Lyndon Johnson signed landmark legislation.

On this day in 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the historic Civil Rights Act . He did so in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House.

The Civil Rights Act was the most sweeping civil rights legislation Congress passed since the Reconstruction. It prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public schools, buses, parks and swimming pools, among other public places.

The bill also laid the groundwork for other legislation--including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which set strict rules for protecting the right of African Americans to vote--that have since been used to enforce equal rights for women as well as all minorities.

Passage of the Civil Rights Act was not easy. House opposition stopped the bill in the House Rules Committee. In early 1964, supporters in the House overcame the Rules Committee. They said they would send the bill to the floor without committee approval.

In the Senate, opponents, many from the Southern states, tried to filibuster it. death in a filibuster. The filibuster was overcome through the floor leadership of Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. It also took the considerable support of President Lyndon Johnson, and the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois. He convinced Republicans to support the bill.


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