Independence Day & The Civil Rights Act of 1964

History at the University of Gloucestershire

On 7th July Dr. Christian O’Connell and Professor Neil Wynn took part in a symposium at the Eccles Centre at the British Museum on “The Civil Rights Act 50 Years On” followed by a lecture by Professor William P. Jones(Madison-Wisconsin) on “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Its Historical Legacy.” The initial discussion focussed on the new PBS documentary 1964.

Lyndon Johnson at the signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2nd 1964 with Martin Luther King Jr present. Lyndon Johnson at the signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2nd 1964 with Martin Luther King Jr present.

Focussing on a single year as a year that “changed America” is highly problematic, but the symposium did make us think about the significance of the Civil Rights Act. The anniversary of the act coincides almost exactly with the celebration of America’s Independence Day. The fact that one hundred and eighty eight years after the famous declaration that “all men are created equal” and…

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