Fifty years ago Thursday, the U.S. Senate brought the nation a step closer to equality by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law, signed by President Lyndon Johnson less than two weeks later, outlawed racial discrimination in education and employment as well as racially segregated schools, buses, and swimming pools.
TIME went back to our archives to rediscover our coverage of the bill’s long journey to becoming law. Here are seven things to know on the 50th anniversary.
It’s still the longest debate in Senate history
The House-approved bill arrived in the Senate on Feb. 26, 1964. It was passed 114 days later on June 19, after occupying the Senate for 60 work days (including seven Saturdays).
The Senator who wrote much of the bill worked through a bleeding ulcer
Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois appeared on TIME’s cover the day the bill passed due to his…
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