“We believe that all men are created equal,” said Johnson upon signing the act into law. “Yet many are denied equal treatment.”
The Civil Rights Act also banned discriminatory practices in employment and ended segregation in public places such as swimming pools, libraries and public schools. The act stands as the most far-reaching civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction Era.
More than a year before, President John F. Kennedy delivered a national radio and television address on civil rights and proposed what became the Civil Rights Act. Kennedy called discrimination against African-Americans a “moral crisis” and said that equality could not be obtain through the law alone.
“It cannot be met by repressive police action,” Kennedy said. “It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your state and local legislative bodies and, above all, in all of our daily lives.”
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(Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress)