[AP Photo by Susan Walsh]

Congress marks 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act

Jun 24, 2014

by Ally Mutnick
published in USA Today on June 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act on Tuesday by honoring both the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the bipartisan tactics that lawmakers used to pass the bill in 1964. In a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, King's children — Bernice King, Dexter Scott King and Martin Luther King III — accepted the Congressional Medal of Honor on behalf of their parents. Top lawmakers praised the Kings and the legacy of the landmark legislation.

"Through their passion, their speeches and their light, they helped create a climate that led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," said Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement. "They were my friends, my brother and my sister."

Speeches by House and Senate leaders reflected on their predecessors' efforts pass the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment, schools and public places. The Senate debated the bill for 60 days, including seven Saturdays, as southern senators filibustered. The congressional leaders lauded the work of Democratic Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, who teamed with Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois to create a bipartisan coalition that broke the filibuster in June 1964. read more