The Civil Rights Act was signed into law 55 years ago on July 2, 1964. This legislation illegalized discriminating against individuals based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This bill paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected African Americans’ voting rights, and went on to enforce equal rights for women.
The signing of this bill by President Lyndon B. Johnson was nationally televised in the White House’s East Room, where Johnson invited hundreds of guests to attend. He used 75 pens to sign this bill, giving them away as mementoes, which was tradition.