Civil rights pioneers recall Civil Rights Act - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Civil rights pioneers recall Civil Rights Act

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

On July 2, 50 years ago former President Lyndon Johnson made the 1964 Civil Rights Act the law of the land.

Rev. Albert Brinson, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s closest friends, was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement that helped lay the groundwork for the law that would end legal discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

"It opened doors for everything," Brinson said.

Prying open those doors required strength of character, courage and sacrifice.

"We had to put ourselves out of the picture. It wasn't about us. It was about you and all those who had to come behind us," Brinson said.

Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend of King as well, helped lead the nonviolence movement that pushed congress to pass the bill, but at great cost.

"The signing of the Civil Rights Act of ‘64 was a great struggle. It wasn't easy because it cost Martin Luther King his life. It was introduced by Pres. Kennedy and probably helped get him killed," Young said.

Despite the tragedy, Young said the Civil Rights Act made the country a better nation.

"It's one of the nation's proudest accomplishments," Young said.

Congress followed the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which banned discrimination at the polls and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which outlawed housing discrimination.

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