LBJ Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Fifty years ago, the work of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Passage was not easy and depended on the painstaking efforts of civil rights leaders, cooperation in a resistant Senate, and growth in public support.
When the bill was finally signed on July 2, 1964, it was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
This week, The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas honors this historic legislation. Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, and Carter are part of the Summit, joining a full schedule of programs that address the civil rights issues we face today.
Our own Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, will introduce President Carter tonight at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Texas.
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library is hosting the summit on April 8, 9, and 10.
You can watch the panel discussions and keynote address live on their website: http://www.civilrightssummit.org/updates/
The keynote speakers include President Barack Obama and three former Presidents: Jimmy Carter will speak on April 8; Bill Clinton will speak on April 9; and George W. Bush will speak on the evening of April 10.
Learn more about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in our new Google Cultural Institute exhibit, which includes videos, letters, telegrams, meeting minutes, and high resolution photos.
Image: LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Serial Number: A1030-17a Date: 08/06/1965. Credit: LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto.
Faced with mounting evidence of the imminent fall of South Vietnam, President Gerald R. Ford authorized the evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese orphans to the United States on April 3, 1975. This evacuation became known as Operation Babylift. Between April 3 and 15 more than 2,000 orphans were flown into the United States by military and private aircraft.
Resources about the Ford administration’s involvement in Operation Babylift are available in the Ford Digital Library.
Images: President Ford carries a Vietnamese baby from “Clipper 1742” at the San Francisco International Airport on April 5, 1975; memo regarding A.I.D. Efforts to Airlift Vietnamese Orphans to the United States from the Theodore Marrs Files; and a pair of well-worn baby shoes worn by orphans evacuated from Vietnam during Operation Babylift.
April 6, 1965. Lady Bird plants a cherry tree at the Cherry Blossom festival in the Washington D.C. Tidal Basin.
The First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital has been meeting for several months now, and their efforts have included plantings along the Mall, cleaning old statues, and improving the Watts Branch section of northeastern D.C. The people of Japan donated 3,800 cherry trees to the effort.
After throwing out the first pitch during the St. Louis Cardinals’ season opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, President George W. Bush waves to the crowd as he walks off the field holding his pitched baseball, April 5, 2004.
-from the George W. Bush Library
April 3, 1967. Leaving behind the informality of their weekend at the Ranch, LBJ and Lady Bird return to formal Washington. They host the Turkish President Cevdet Sunay at the White House.
LBJ Presidential Library photos #C4907-13, arrival ceremony at the White House; #C4939-33, the reception that night. Public domain.
If you weren’t able to get tickets to next week’s Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library, don’t worry! The event will be live streamed on their website:
President Barack Obama will be joined by three former Presidents who will also deliver remarks at the upcoming Civil Rights Summit: Jimmy Carter will speak on April 8; Bill Clinton will speak on April 9; and George W. Bush will speak on the evening of April 10.
The Civil Rights Summit, comprised of afternoon panel discussions followed by evening keynote addresses, will reflect on the seminal nature of the civil rights legislation passed by President Johnson while examining civil rights issues in America and around the world today.
Letter from John Beaulieu to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Braille, 10/1958
Item from White House Central Files (Eisenhower Administration). (1953 - 1961)
Braille allows those who are blind to read using a system of raised dots on a piece of paper. The configurations of the dots represent a letter or number and are grouped together like written letters to make words. This letter is written in Braille by 13 year old John Beaulieu. In this case, the signature is felt, not seen.