Lyndon Johnson's Fight for Civil Rights

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law, July 2, 1964.

hide captionPresident Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law, July 2, 1964.

Corbis

Forty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill that changed the face of America. It opened all public accommodations — hotels, restaurants, swimming pools — to all Americans regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

The bill also ended legal discrimination in employment on the basis of race or sex, and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the law. The signing ceremony represented a personal triumph for Johnson, who lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the bill. Recordings of the president's phone conversations reveal his relentless campaign to wrangle lawmakers in favor of the controversial bill.

NPR's Steve Inskeep and NPR's Cokie Roberts recall Johnson's role in passing the historic act.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: