1061:One hundred and eighty-eight years ago a band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom
Day 1061: Friday, February 10, 2023
“One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom.
“A Long Struggle for Freedom”
“One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor not only to found a nation, but to forge an ideal of freedom. . . .”
President Lyndon B. Johnson understood not only the historic importance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but also the significance of the timing for its signing and the presentation of the act’s meaning to the nation. The president’s writers prepared six drafts of the speech before the final version was set for the teleprompter feed that Johnson used to read his televised remarks that evening. The teleprompter version and the final draft, shown here, indicate that the inclusion of the word “long” in the address was added by the president extemporaneously. The addition of this small word expressed the hard-fought, step-by-step efforts of countless Americans over the course of a century, in the slow progression towards realizing civil rights.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
Excerpts from the Speech
President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) signed the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, in a nationally televised ceremony in the East Room of the White House before Congressional leaders and civil rights leaders instrumental in the bill’s passage. This excerpt of the speech he made before signing the bill was included in H. R. 7152—The Civil Rights Bill, broadcast July 3, 1964, on NBC.
Watch the video