Immediately following the attacks, the White House was overwhelmed with mail, telegrams and donations to 16th Street Church.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and JFK
President Kennedy is out on a political limb. He’s committed his administration to a major new civil rights bill, which he outlines in a nationally-televised address on June 11, 1963. The following week, he submits it to Congress. But its passage is very much in doubt and he needs all the support he can get. Now he’s learned that civil rights and labor organizations are planning a big demonstration in the capital this summer which they are calling “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Kennedy is afraid that it will hurt rather than help his chances of getting the bill through Congress.
On June 22, the same day he’s scheduled to leave on an important European trip, the President has a pre-arranged meeting with civil rights leaders. A. Philip Randolph, the respected black labor leader is there. He’s the driving force behind the proposed March. Martin Luther King Jr. is also present and has joined Randolph in supporting the demonstration. The president tells the group he doesn’t want “a big show in the capital” that could jeopardize passage of the bill. Read More
Photo: Children near the Washington Monument at the Civil Rights March on Washington. 8/28/63. http://research.archives.gov/description/541995
March on Washington Program with map. Among others, the Big Six will speak: A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, James Farmer, Whitney Young Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Martin Luther King Jr., all leaders of separate civil rights organizations. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/MISCACC-2003-036
The Voting Rights Act
On this day, August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
Recently, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that impacts the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For historical perspective, the LBJ Library has collected related photographs, videos, and a telephone conversation here.
Photo: LBJ delivering remarks at the signing ceremony for the Voting Rights Act. Behind him is a statue of Abraham Lincoln. 8/6/65.
-from the LBJ Library
“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
via Our Documents
Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Sixty-five years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued his Executive Order that desegregated the armed forces and called for equality of treatment and opportunity for all.
Twenty years after the issuance of the Order, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sent this note to former President Truman, honoring that anniversary and Truman’s historic action.
-from the Truman Library
The Americans with Disabilities Act - Today in History
On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). President Bush had made the bill a key element of his domestic agenda that year. The ADA proved to be one of the most far-reaching civil rights bills in the nation’s history, affecting more than 40 million citizens.
During its development, the ADA was a popular idea, but there were great challenges in turning it into workable legislation. Although the ADA was equally embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike, bipartisan support did not ensure easy passage of a complicated bill capable of touching tens of millions of lives.
As these documents demonstrate it took leaders and politicians willing and able to “reach across the aisle” to find workable solutions; though as the documents also show, political strategists were well aware of the electoral costs of failure. Read More
"…affirming the right of girls to play Little League baseball."
Located in President Gerald R. Ford’s legislation case files is a recommendation to approve the bill H.R. 8864 and amend the Federal charter of Little League Baseball, allowing girls to play.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act, the original Executive Order 9066 as well as the 1988 law are on display for a limited time in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
“Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” —President Ronald Reagan, remarks on signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988
On February 19, 1942, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which permitted military commanders to “prescribe military areas … from which any or all persons may be excluded.” While the order did not mention any group by name, it profoundly affected the lives of Japanese Americans.
In March and April, Gen. John L. DeWitt issued a series of “Exclusion Orders” directed at “all persons of Japanese ancestry” in the Western Defense Command.
These orders led to the forced evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese American permanent residents and Japanese American citizens at 10 major camps and dozens of smaller sites. Held behind barbed wire and watched by armed guards, many Japanese Americans lost their homes and possessions. Congress passed laws enforcing the order with almost no debate, and the Supreme Court affirmed these actions.
Forty-six years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The law, which was preceded by a detailed historical study by a congressional commission, judged the incarceration “a grave injustice” that was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” It offered an apology and $20,000 in restitution to each survivor.
Image: Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from San Pedro. Evacuees lived at this center at the former Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to relocation centers. Clem Albers, Arcadia, CA, April 5, 1942. (Photo No. 210-G-3B-414)
LBJ Signs the Civil Rights Act
On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex in public accommodations such as hotels, theaters, parks, restaurants, and other public places.
The act also authorized the withdrawal of Federal funds from programs that practice discrimination. It discouraged job discrimination through the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Additionally, it authorized the Attorney General to bring lawsuits against schools practicing segregation, and made the Commission on Civil Rights a permanent organization.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act with Martin Luther King, Jr. and others behind him. East Room, White House. 7/2/64.
-from the LBJ Library
On this day in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, the future civil rights leader originally intended to study at nearby the University of Maryland School of Law, however, it remained segregated.
Instead, Marshall attended Howard University School of Law. Shortly after graduating, Marshall successfully challenged the segregated University of Maryland in Murray v. Pearson. Read More
Marshall remained on the Court until 1991.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with Thurgood Marshall shortly before announcing Marshall’s nomination to the Supreme Court, June 13, 1967.