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 The U.S. Civil Rights Movement  
Johnson and King

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with Martin Luther King Jr. after presenting him with one of the pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Johnson “hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves,” historian Branch told USINFO. The president steered Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress, something King did not think the late President Kennedy would have done.

When the bill’s passage was threatened by a Senate filibuster, Johnson lobbied for a final vote and eventually accepted several amendments to end the filibuster. One week later, Congress sent the legislation to the White House for the president’s signature.

In a television address that evening, Johnson said of segregation: “It cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. Morality forbids it. And the law I will sign tonight forbids it.” (Library of Congress)