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Legislation helped move country ahead

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson helped redefine America’s identity with the stroke of a pen.

Johnson’s signature on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 transformed the way in which we all view what it is to be American.

The change in law would mark the official beginning of a sea change in the way Americans viewed one another.

No longer could anyone legally discriminate against someone else on the grounds of race, sex, religion or national origin.

It was a profound move, particularly in the South.

The Civil Rights Act solidified the tenets of what we now know as the Civil Rights movement in America.

With the stroke of a pen, sanctioned discrimination was outlawed.

Today, particularly the younger generations of us may struggle to even grasp how deeply important the law was — and is — to help define what it is to be an American.

Blacks and whites, and all shades in between, were equal in all matters. Women were equal to men and newly immigrated citizens had exactly the same rights as someone who could trace their lineage back to the Mayflower.

In hindsight, the Civil Rights Act may seem not so important to some, but its passage was a landmark piece of legislation then and still serves as a critical underpinning of our nation today.