[LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton]

[LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton]

Unfinished Business: The Civil Rights Act and Education

Jul 02, 2014

By Robert Hutchings
published in Education Week American Education News Site of Record on July 2, 2014

Signed into law 50 years ago today, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains one of the most important pieces of legislation in this nation’s history. It set the course for how our country lives its democracy.

With its passage and adoption, President Lyndon B. Johnson and a majority of Congress responded to the cries of millions of Americans and thousands of protesters who marched, rallied, and challenged the status quo, a state of affairs with which I was all too familiar growing up in the South.

My personal recollections of what my small central-Florida hometown was like in the early 1960s will come as no surprise: two high schools, two movie theaters, two drinking fountains at every gas station, two divided communities—one “colored,” one white. President Johnson’s leadership and that of Martin Luther King Jr. and countless other courageous leaders of that generation rescued us from that shameful legacy. Slavery was our country’s original sin, and it took that generation of leaders, black and white, to renew the process of expiation, a century after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. read more