WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it will be co-hosting the historic program and celebration, “The 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Preserving Progress, Charting the Future,” with Howard University on July 15, 2014. Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, the groundbreaking act outlawed discriminatory voting requirements and segregation in schools, employment and places of public accommodation. Attorney General Eric Holder has made protecting civil rights a top priority of his administration of the Department of Justice.

The long road to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was paved with the footsteps of countless ordinary Americans and well-known civil rights leaders who marched, held sit-ins, staged boycotts and led freedom rides to end segregation and discrimination. The call for comprehensive civil rights legislation gained momentum in 1963, as civil rights activists continued to organize peaceful demonstrations throughout the country. After hundreds of nonviolent protestors were met with police violence and arrest in Birmingham, Alabama, President John F. Kennedy delivered a nationally televised speech voicing his support for comprehensive civil rights legislation. After President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a commitment to pursue passage of civil rights legislation. And after the longest debate in senate history, the Civil Rights Act was finally passed and signed into law, becoming the first of many legislative victories over the next 50 years that have been critical tools for protecting civil rights.

For more information, go to www.doj.gov.