Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the '64 Civil Rights Act

John F. Kennedy
Cover of John F. Kennedy
National Black Law Students Association Celebrates the 50th Anniversary 
of the 
Civil Rights Act of 1964

For Immediate Release

July 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In the summer of 1963, President John F. Kennedy called for Civil Rights legislation, but he was killed before he saw his campaign promise come to fruition. In an effort to realize Kennedy's dream, President Lyndon B. Johnson worked with Democrats and Republicans to push forward the act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The law and the social movement behind it came together to alter our nation's history and attitude towards race.  As we reflect on this historic piece of legislation, it is important to remember the milestones that we have reached in the 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act, but it is also pertinent to consider the journey ahead.

The act sought to right the wrongs that our nation had previously exerted on minorities, particularly African-Americans. It addressed discrimination in public accommodations, voting and education. Despite the popularity amongst mainstream America, the act saw opposition from white business owners who refused to serve or accommodate African-American patrons which resulted in several court cases. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the authority to pass the act and business owners were required to comply with it.

Under the law, African-Americans no longer had to enter through separate entrances or be denied service at lunch counters. African-American children no longer had to drink water from "coloreds only" water fountains. The act marked the beginning of what many thought would become a post-racial United States.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for subsequent civil rights legislations in the United States. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1965, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 were all heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without the passage of such an historic act, women, minorities, and disabled Americans may not have been afforded to equality they have today.

Since the passage of the 1964 Act, minorities have reached heights that so many of the individuals who fought and died for those very same rights could have never imagined. As individuals who were once treated as second-class citizens, we have not only been able to receive basic human rights in the United States, but we have thrived in America. We have climbed the top of corporate ladders, we have traveled to space and back, and we have obtained the highest position in the land-President of the United States; however, the journey is not over. NBLSA Family, we still have not reached that "mountain top" that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about, we still have not broken the bounds of "separate but equal", and we still have to fight for our piece of the American dream.

Racism may never be completely eradicated, but the passage of the act helped to foster a generation that sees racism as irrational and wrong. Without the passage of this act, there may have never been a President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor or NBLSA. While we reflect on the last 50 years since the passage of the legislation, we must never forget that there is always work to be done. It is up to us to continue to fight for equality for all.

NBLSA family, today, we ask you to fight with the same fervor and passion that our people fought with in 1964. Today we ask you think about the path that so many have blazed so that we could achieve our dreams.  Today we ask you to allow that same spirt to IGNITE your passion for advocacy, equality and justice for all. We ask you to Lift Your Voices in Resound and fight to make a better tomorrow.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." -President Barack Obama

For More Information Please Contact:
Jordan Hadley 
National Attorney General
National Black Law Students Association

Kim Brimm
National Director of Public Relations 
National Black Law Students Association

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