National Archives Commemorates Civil Rights

Johnson signs CRA of 64

During July, a month that marks 50 years since the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the National Archives is hosting a variety of exhibits to commemorate the legislation. If you’re in Washington D.C. at this time (or even if you’re not—more on that later), avail yourselves of these opportunities.

FEATURED DOCUMENT DISPLAY: Through September 16, the National Archives will display the first and signature pages of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the Rubenstein Gallery. Note, however, that the original signature page will be replaced by a facsimile on July 13 (for preservation purposes).

FILM SCREENING AND DISCUSSION: Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment
Tuesday, July 29, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
The film chronicles how President John F. Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy clashed with Governor George Wallace over racial integration at the University of Alabama in 1963.

But what happens if you’re not in DC this summer? Lucky for you, the National Archives has published some online exhibits to enjoy wherever you are.

“Records of Rights” uses original documents, photographs, videos, and other items to explore how Americans have worked to realize ideals of freedom, and how they debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity. This new exhibition chronicles the past and current generations whose efforts to secure equality under the law have shaped the country we live in today. Through a companion website, RecordsofRights.org, you can experience parts of this exhibit at home.

There’s background information and a transcript of the Civil Rights Act on the list of 100 Milestone Documents of American history on www.ourdocuments.gov.

And the National Archives exhibit on “Documented Rights” has an online component.