Another Historical Day to Remember at This Time

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Digital Display at the Statue of Liberty Museum. (Photo: C. Aklu)

By Chaitram Aklu

Public Law 88-352 – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.

Signed on July 2, two days before the July 4th independence celebrations of that year (1964), President Lynden Baines Johnson signed in law the bill with 75 pens, which he gave to among others, Martin Luther King Jr. King called the Act the Second Emancipation. The passage of the bill in the Senate was remarkable. It had passed in the House with much debate and numerous failed attempts to amend and weaken it. It also suffered a 75 day-filibuster by Southern Democrats before finally passing by a 73 -27 vote. At one point Sen. Robert Byrd (West Virginia) spoke against the bill for 14 hours. He was a former member of the KKK. The 75 day filibuster explains the significance of the 75 pens.