The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Foundational Influence

Published on June 9, 2016

By Debra Kirby

I listen to National Public Radio (NPR) on my daily commute. A series on All Things Considered called Generational Politics, which aired in June and which explored the events that shaped the political views of three different generations – 25, 45, and 65 year olds – got me thinking about what most influenced my views, political and beyond. Looking back it is no surprise that having spent some of my most formative years in the 1960s in Detroit, the events related to the Civil Rights Movement played a major role in shaping my beliefs, ideas and character. To this day, I feel privileged to have witnessed that exciting and often turbulent time – even though my parents refused, despite my most earnest and compelling arguments, to let their pre-teen daughter travel by bus to Washington, DC to actually participate in the historic events.  The anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this July 2 provides the perfect opportunity to go beyond the more commonly known facts surrounding this historic act and the events and people who made it happen.

For example, did you know?

  • John Robert Lewis, civil rights movement veteran and U.S. Congressman from Georgia since 1986, was the only living speaker from the March on Washington present at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. After the ceremony, Lewis asked Obama to sign a commemorative photograph for him. The new president signed the photo with the message, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.” — Biography In Context.

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President John F. Kennedy

Posted on May 23, 2016

By Traci Cothran

The anniversary of JFK’s birth occurs on May 29, and while saying the letters “JFK” evokes vivid scenes and images in minds of adults over forty, it doesn’t mean much to kids in school today.  They may know he was our 35th President, but Camelot, Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, first Catholic President, the Cold War, Jackie O, and JFK’s assassination are likely unknown concepts.

JFK is a broad topic that encompasses many subjects, and here are a few ideas to begin with to get your students (or yourself!) better acquainted with this historic figure:

JFK’s Inauguration

  • “Newsreel of President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration.” Video. Thought Equity Motion Collections.  Research In Context
  • “JFK’s Inaugural Address.” Research In Context

Peace Corps

Introduction of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964

  • “History Features: Civil Rights Bill.” Video. History Features: Civil Rights Bill. Research In Context

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