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Lyndon Johnson's Fight for Civil Rights

Forty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill that changed the face of America. It opened all public accommodations -- hotels, restaurants, swimming pools -- to all Americans regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

The bill also ended legal discrimination in employment on the basis of race or sex, and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the law. The signing ceremony represented a personal triumph for Johnson, who lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the bill. Recordings of the president's phone conversations reveal his relentless campaign to wrangle lawmakers in favor of the controversial bill.

NPR's Steve Inskeep and NPR's Cokie Roberts recall Johnson's role in passing the historic act.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Cokie Roberts was one of the 'Founding Mothers' of NPR who helped make that network one of the premier sources of news and information in this country. She served as a congressional correspondent at NPR for more than 10 years and later appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition. In addition to her work for NPR, Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming.

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