Congress marks 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act of 1964

By Jeremy Diamond | 7/3/2014, midnight

Congressional leaders on Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, joined Congress’ top two Democrats and Republicans to commemorate the law and issue the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress.

President Barack Obama marked the anniversary in April, speaking at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library.

“As a master of politics and legislative process, he grasped—like few others—the power of government to bring about change,” Obama said then.

Here is a look at the legacy of Congress on civil rights:

2: Number of founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus still in Congress—Reps. Charlie Rangel and John Conyers. The Caucus was established by 13 lawmakers in 1971.

730 hours: The time Congress spent debating civil rights legislation in 1964, according to the Dirksen Center. The debate amounted to 83 working days and took up 3,000 pages in the Congressional Record.

290-130: The vote on the bill in the House on February 10, 1964.

14 hours, 13 minutes: The time that Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia filibustered the bill. But Byrd’s filibuster didn’t come close to Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 24-hour stand against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

71-29: The Senate vote to break Byrd’s filibuster. In what could be called an eye for an “aye,” terminally ill California Sen. Clair Engle, who was unable to speak, pointed to his eye to signal a “Yes” vote to end debate on the bill and move to a final vote.

73-27: The Senate vote that sent the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to President Lyndon Johnson’s desk for signature.

5: The number of African Americans serving in Congress at the time of the bill’s passage.

86: Gap between Black members of the Senate. Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the third African American senator in 1967, 92 years after the second-ever Black senator, Blanche Kelso Bruce, left in 1881.

18: The number of Black representatives in Congress 10 years after the Civil Rights Act—13 more than in 1964.

2: A Democrat, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, and a Republican, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, are currently the only African American members of the Senate. The 113th Congress is the first time there has been more than one African American U.S. senators in the same period.

5: The disparity in percentage points between the proportion of African Americans in Congress and in the U.S. population (13 percent). Just 8 percent of all senators and representatives are African American.

6: The number of the states that voted against Johnson in the 1964 election that were from the South. Johnson reportedly told an aide after signing the act, “We have lost the South for a generation.” Kennedy had carried the popular vote in four of those states in 1960.