Congress passes the most sweeping Civil Rights Bill ever to be written into the law, and thus reaffirms the conception of equality for all men that began with Lincoln and the Civil War 100 years earlier.
Signing of Civil Rights Act
ED HERLIHY, narrator:
Congress passes the most sweeping Civil Rights Bill ever to be written into the law, and thus reaffirms the conception of equality for all men that began with Lincoln and the Civil War 100 years ago. Five hours after the House passes the measure, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is signed at the White House by President Johnson. Before an audience of legislators and civil rights leaders who have labored long and hard for passage of the bill, President Johnson calls for all Americans to back what he calls, “a turning point in history.”
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON: We must not approach the observance and enforcement of this law in a vengeful spirit. Its purpose is not to punish. Its purpose is not to divide, but to end divisions, divisions, which have lasted all too long. Its purpose is national, not regional. This Civil Rights Act is 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. So, tonight I urge every public official, every religious leader, every business and professional man, every working man, every housewife, I urge every American to join in this effort to bring justice, and hope to all our people, and to bring peace to our land.
Editor's Note: On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson went on television and radio to talk to the American people before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law made it illegal to treat people unfairly because they were black. This was one of the most important laws passed in the history of the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave black people and members of minority groups the same right to vote as white people. Under this law, it was illegal to force black people to go to separate schools apart from white people.