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EEOC 50th Anniversary Logo

Statement on 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
July 2, 2014

From the White House

Presidential Proclamation on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

 

EEOC Events

6/25/2014

Celebrating and Collaborating: The 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
San Francisco, CA

Civil Rights Act of 1964: EEOC Protecting the Employee from Workplace Discrimination
Universidad de Turabo
Caguas, PR

6/25/2014 - 7/2/2014

Civil Rights Act 1964: Golden Anniversary Arizona Community Celebration
Phoenix, AZ

6/26/2014

Reflections on the Bill of the Century
Indianapolis, IN

7/2/2014

Freedom Summer - Commemorating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Birmingham, AL

Unity Day 2014
EEOC Los Angeles District Office
Los Angeles, CA

50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Civil Rights Act Commemoration in Miami
North Miami, FL

50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Civil Rights Act Commemoration in Tampa
Tampa, FL

7/10/2014

Southern New Mexico SHRM Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
Las Cruces, NM

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Northwest African-American Museum
Seattle, WA

7/11/2014

The Civil Rights Act @ 50 - Looking Back, Moving Forward
The King Center
Atlanta, GA

Download Civil Rights Act Flyer

7/27/2014

History of Title VII
Arkansas Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice
Little Rock, AR



Chair Jacqueline A. BerrienFifty years ago today, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This comprehensive civil rights legislation grew out of decades of resistance and opposition to the  segregation and discrimination that restricted opportunities and access for countless men, women and children in the United States in many different aspects of their lives. The law banned discrimination in public accommodations - including hotels, restaurants and food service, retail establishments, parks and recreational facilities and transportation - and in all programs and activities funded by the federal government. It was, however, Title VII of the legislation that answered the call for equal opportunity in the nation's workplaces. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex and also made it illegal to retaliate against those who sought relief or assisted others in their exercise of rights secured by the law.  Title VII created the EEOC, and on July 2, 1965, one year after the law was signed, the agency opened its doors.

The EEOC is therefore utilizing the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the upcoming 50th Anniversary of our agency to educate the public about the laws we enforce.  Learn more about our anniversary activities at http://www.eeoc.gov/

On the night he signed the landmark legislation, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted that:

[O]ur generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders. We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment. We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights. We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings-not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin. But it cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. The principles of our freedom forbid it. Morality forbids it. And the law I will sign tonight forbids it.

A half-century later, those words still ring true. Today, the EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, in addition to other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of age (40 and older), disability, genetic information or family medical history in the private, public, and federal sectors.  We combat discrimination through education and outreach, investigation, mediation, conciliation, litigation, and federal sector hearings, appeals, training and technical assistance.  

Together with individuals who stood up against job discrimination, businesses that committed to being "equal opportunity" employers, and their tireless advocates, the EEOC has worked successfully to advance its mission to stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination so that the nation can realize the vision of Title VII and of the EEOC: justice and equality in the workplace.  Never before has our nation enjoyed greater inclusivity in the workplace and better reflected the diversity of the American people. 

Nevertheless, the goals of Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its entirety are not yet achieved, and the "unalienable rights" and "blessings of liberty" promised in the nation's founding documents, which we also celebrate this week in July, are still elusive for too many people.  The EEOC receives nearly 100,000 charges of discrimination each year, with retaliation and racial discrimination remaining our greatest challenges.  Moreover, too many women are paid less or shut-out of job opportunities; too many people are forced to choose between their jobs and religious beliefs; too many workers are segregated on the basis of national origin; too many persons with disabilities are excluded from jobs they are qualified to hold; too many older workers are screened out of job opportunities because of their age; and too many LGBT employees suffer harassment in the workplace based upon stereotypes.  Therefore, this generation is - as was the generation before it -- still called upon to "continue the unending search for justice." 

In our most recent Strategic Plan, the EEOC recommitted itself to: 1) Combating employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement; 2) Preventing employment discrimination through education and outreach; and 3) Delivering excellent and consistent service through a skilled and diverse workforce and effective systems. View the full plan and the Strategic Enforcement Plan at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/.  By focusing on these objectives, the EEOC strives to eliminate the unlawful employment discrimination practices that have prevented our country from realizing Title VII's full promise in the past and that may threaten its achievement in the future.

Just as we are the best measure of success for the men and women who fought for and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the best measure of our success will be how the workplace operates when our children enter it.  Fifty years after Title VII's passage and nearly fifty years after opening our doors, the men and women of the EEOC are more committed than ever to ensuring that equal employment opportunity is not only promised by the law but also becomes a reality throughout the nation. I am proud to serve alongside Vice Chair Jenny Yang, Commissioners Constance S. Barker, Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic, General Counsel P. David Lopez and more than 2,000 EEOC employees serving the public in 53 offices across the United States and in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  We all look forward to an inspiring, educational, and productive 50th Anniversary year honoring the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and our opening in 1965!