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President Lyndon Johnson: Remarks upon Signing the Civil Rights Bill, 1964

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Courtesy of Miller Center


Before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the nation. President Johnson discussed the importance of the law in relation to the founding concepts and beliefs of the United States. He put into context the importance of the law and the rights it extended.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin illegal in the United States. Before signing the bill into law, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the American people. In the speech he said, “This is a proud triumph. Yet those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning. From the minutemen at Concord to the soldiers in Viet-Nam, each generation has been equal to that trust.” What do you think President Johnson meant when he said that each generation has been equal to the trust of renewing and enlarging the meaning of freedom? Justify your opinion.
  • In this speech, President Johnson uses words from America’s founding document like the Declaration of Independence (all men are created equal, all men have certain unalienable rights) and the Constitution (blessings of liberty).
  • Why would President Johnson make these references in his speech? Why would President Johnson feel the need to specify that people would be equal in certain places like “in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public.”?

Citation Information

July 2, 1964: Remarks upon Signing the Civil Rights Bill. Miller Center