Local community honors historic signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964

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by Marshanna Hester

MILWAUKEE -- Wednesday, July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Programs marking this historic event took place throughout the country, including in Milwaukee.

A number of local civil rights leaders and litigators joined at the Marquette University Law School to discuss the history, progress and challenges of the legislation.

With the stroke of a pen, President Lyndon B. Johnson set out to change how Americans are treated, outlawing discrimination based on race, gender, religion or national origin.

Many people put their lives on the line and died fighting for the cause during the civil Rights movement.

While their sacrifice is celebrated, there remains a loud call for action.

Local leaders said the Milwaukee community is struggling to overcome disparities in education, poverty and employment.

James Santelle is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

He said his office works to attack those injustices for all people, including members of the LGBT community, who are fighting for their individual right to marry against those of the entire community.

"Balancing those kinds of things, perhaps coming to imperfect solutions along the way, but I'd like to think every time we address them we become better as a nation better as a people," he said.

Santelle calls the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the great unfinished business of America.

The day-long commemoration at Marquette University included a public question and answer session, featuring the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice.

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