WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today released the following statement recognizing the landmark passage of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.
“Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we remember the decisive moment when Republicans and Democrats came together to finally put an end to legal racial segregation and to give all of America’s people full and equal protection under the law,” said Sen. Cruz
“Under the Fourteenth Amendment, our Constitution is colorblind – all of us are guaranteed the equal protection of the law. Yet the road to freedom for African Americans in this country has been too long. For years, civil rights leaders fought for their rights, and for justice, but they faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge in the Senate: a bloc of Southern Democrats who refused to support the bill.
“Today we remember the long and contentious debate that lasted sixty days, before Senate Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey (MN) and Republican Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen (IL) were together able to compile the votes needed to end the filibuster, pass the bill, and make it law. We remember the words of Senator Dirksen when he rose that day when the filibuster ended, urging his colleagues to drop their opposition to the bill. He recalled, ‘It is said that on the night he died, Victor Hugo wrote in his diary, substantially this sentiment: Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come. The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied.’
“Nonetheless, 23 Democrats and 6 Republicans fiercely opposed ending the filibuster and taking up the landmark bill. And yet, the remainder of the Senate – Republicans and Democrats joining together – invoked cloture and passed the bill, to ensure that all people, regardless of race, gender, or religion were treated with equality and dignity under the law. Republicans and Democrats gathered at the White House on July 2 to watch President Johnson, a Southerner from Texas, sign the bill into law, finally making good on the words of President John F. Kennedy who a year earlier called on every American to “examine his conscience” and support the bill.
“Our work is not over. Racial discrimination and bigotry persists, and we must be united working to defeat it. Moreover, when Dr. Martin Luther King gathered millions on the National Mall in the summer of 1963, those men and women were marching for not only their rights, but also for opportunity.
“We can still do better by fighting to give everyone in our country the opportunities they deserve. We must do better. And, if Republicans and Democrats can come together as they did in 1964 once again, we will.”