Images: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
To NMAAHC Visitors:
Thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of the museum. Please take a moment to commemorate and celebrate the fact that 50 years ago today Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act destroyed the legal and political legitimacy of Jim Crow segregation and helped to transform America.
Every time you check into a hotel or sit down in a restaurant and see a diverse array of people present, remember that prior to the Civil Rights Act this kind of diversity was not only unusual but it was against the law in many states. We should recall that this moment occurred because thousands of Americans marched, protested and experienced unimaginable violence in order to force America to live up to its stated ideals of equality and justice, and that Lyndon Johnson, responding to this pressure, used his considerable legislative and political skills to push this law through the House and the Senate.
We are a better country because of this law and yet there is so much more to accomplish to fulfill Dr. king’s dream. It is our job as a museum to help people remember and to use those memories to push and prod to make America better.
- Lonnie G. Bunch, Founding Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture