Why We Asked Experts To Annotate The Civil Rights Act

Jul 2, 2014
Originally published on July 2, 2014 5:03 am

This Wednesday, we're commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with an app that lets you explore the legislation in detail. We encourage you to peruse the text of the landmark bill alongside comments from journalists, lawyers, authors and others on how it evolved, and what it means to us today.

» Explore the comments on the Civil Rights Act »

Here at Code Switch, we're especially fascinated with how race plays out in America, and how that's changed in the recent past. The civil rights revolution of the '60s and its lingering effects have been a focus of ours (you might remember @TodayIn1963, for example).

So as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act approached, we wondered what has changed about the country and its laws since 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill. What ripples has it created in the intervening years? What does the bill mean to us today, and how does its language resonate with us?

A lot of us had never read the bill in its entirety before, so we pulled up the document and sought help from a slew of experts with backgrounds in law, journalism, history and social justice. They weighed in and made comments, bringing the text to life with their insights and perspectives. So we invite you to click around to see the lesser-known aspects of this historic legislation.

And hang with us for a bit, too. All summer long, NPR and Code Switch are reporting stories about "Freedom Summer" — the effort in 1964 to open the polls to African-Americans in Mississippi.

Like much of our work here at Code Switch, "Behind the Civil Rights Act" is meant to be a catalyst for an ongoing conversation. So please feel free to share your own stories, questions and insights on the bill below, in the app itself, or with #CRAat50 on Twitter.

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