On July 2, 1964, with Martin Luther King, Jr., directly behind him, President Lyndon Johnson scrawled his signature on a document years in the making—the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 , 07/02/1964
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on, 07/02/1964. (The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)
The first and the signature pages of the act will be on display at the National Archives Rubenstein Gallery in Washington, DC, until September 17, 2014. These 50-year-old sheets of paper represent years of struggle and society’s journey toward justice.
The most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era, the Civil Right Act finally gave the Federal Government the means to enforce the promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The act prohibited discrimination in public places, allowed the integration of public facilities and schools, and forbade discrimination in employment.
But such a landmark congressional enactment was by no means achieved easily…
Keep reading at Prologue: Pieces of History » Now On Display: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
Plus more on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
Five beaches; 5,000 ships; 13,000 aircraft; 156,000 troops; Europe, freed from the grasp of tyranny. The D-Day Invasion, 70 years ago.
(Photos from top: Anthony Potter Collection / Getty Images; PhotoQuest / Getty Images; Robert Capa, Time/LIFE / AP; US Army / File via the New York Daily News)
Imagine not 300, not 3,000, not even 30,000, but 300,000 armed troops entering a city to put down a revolution.
It happened 25 years ago in China.
And murderous China acts like it never happened.
(graphic via the Los Angeles Times)
Hong Kong marks the 25th anniversary of the massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square.
Lest we forget about the murderous Chinese government, which still censors and silences its own people today. (Photos: Philippe Lopez / Agence-France Presse [top, middle] and Vincent Yu / AP via the New York Times)
Albert Einstein with fellow physicists, engineers and scientists at the Marconi RCA Radio Station in , 1921.
"Marconi," said Einstein, "plays the mamba."
“I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history.”
Chinese Maj. General XU QINXIAN, defying Communist Party leadership’s orders to crack down on student protestors in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
He was later arrested, imprisoned and now lives in a “sanitarium for military officers” in northern China.
If only others had followed through on the general’s defiance.
(via the New York Times)
Here’s rare film footage, shot by a professional baseball player, of a polio-stricken Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking, with assistance from an aide, to his seat at the 1937 All-Star Game.
The 1964 New York’s World Fair. (Photo: Vincent Marchese via The New York Times)
Gawker unearths the original New York Times article on the plight of Solomon Northrup, born free in New York then kidnapped into slavery down South, and whose story is told in 12 Years A Slave.
From Life Magazine:
It’s mid-spring, 1961. In the kitchen of a safe house in Montgomery, Ala., Martin Luther King Jr. is tense. In the house with the 32-year-old civil rights leader are 17 students — fresh-faced college kids who, moved by King’s message of racial equality, are literally putting their lives at risk.
These are the groundbreaking practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience known as the Freedom Riders, and over the past two harrowing weeks, as they’ve traveled across the state on integrated buses, their numbers have diminished at every stop in the face of arrests, mob beatings — even fire-bombings.
Right there along with the riders, capturing the mood of the movement as it swung between exhilarated and exhausted, thrilled and terrified, was 26-year-old LIFE photographer Paul Schutzer, who covered the landmark Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom march and rally in Washington, D.C., four years earlier and witnessed firsthand the courage and determination Dr. King inspired in his followers. (Filed along with Schutzer’s Pilgrimage photos in LIFE’s archives are notes from the magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Henry Suydam Jr., citing the energy and excitement swirling around King even then: “At the end of the ceremonies, a couple of hundred people pressed feverishly on Reverend King — seeking pictures, autographs, handshakes, or just a close look. The jam got so heavy that he had to be escorted to safety by police.”)
(Photos: Paul Schutzer / LIFE)
(via the Mail & Guardian / Johannesburg, South Africa)
"Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world."
NELSON MANDELA, after being sworn in as President of South Africa on May 10, 1994.
(Photo: Greg Bartley / Caemra Press via Redux / The New York Times)