SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It has been nearly 50 years since the landmark Civil Rights Act was signed into law, and people in our area who were active in the movement to secure equal rights are looking back on what has changed.
The legislation President Lyndon Johnson signed into law did away with many forms of discrimination practiced against women and minorities.
80-year-old Springfield State Representative Ben Swan recalled his participation in the Civil Rights struggle. Swan, who was in Selma, Alabama during a voting rights protest, said these actions were necessary to break down discriminatory barriers.
Barriers he said that existed right here in Springfield. “In the neighborhood where my office is now, there were stores that would not hire black people even though we would shop there. There were restaurants and bars in this area of Springfield that would not serve black people.”
Talbert Swan of Springfield told 22News, he’s extremely proud of the civil rights activists, like his father from the 1960s who led the fight to the civil rights law. “Most thankful for the sacrifice, there were many sacrifices from those that were participating and those who were at home.”
Representative Swan who turns 81 in September, said with the stroke of his pen, President Johnson improved the quality of life for millions of people all over America.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964.