In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we speak to Todd Purdum about the legislative and political battle to get the civil rights bill passed.
The act, which among other things, outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, including restaurants, hotels, and motels—ending the era of legal segregation in those places. Purdum explains its significance: :
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 created modern America. The things we take for granted today: people in restaurants, and hotels and motels and transportation, enjoying it regardless of race—the things my children take for granted. It’s hard to remember that just 50 years ago they were anything but taken for granted and people were literally fighting and dying for them. In a very important way, this law, which is often called “the most important law of the 20th century,” created the world we live in today.”
Purdum’s forthcoming book, “An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964" comes out in April.
image via patternpulp