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LBJ Pushes Rights Bill

June 6, 1964 - President Johnson assured a union gathering in New York City today that the civil rights bill would pass, but he said Americans must strive to eliminate prejudice in their hearts.

Laws can give men rights, the President said, but justice will not become a reality until it lives in the spirit of man.

“We have proposed and, under the great leadership of Senator Humphrey on the platform, we will pass the strongest civil rights bill in American history,” he said.

“But now is the time to look beyond that bill — to struggle to eliminate the heavy weight of discrimination in the hearts and homes of people; to give to members of minorities the training, education, and housing which will enable them to pass through the doors of opportunity.”

The President hailed the union, the International Ladies Garment Workers, in his speech at a meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the group’s Union Health Center. The meeting was held at the High School of Fashion Industries, 225 West 24th Street.

“I predict,” he said, “that in the next 10 years we will make greater gains toward this goal — toward justice and social progress — than at any time in the long history of our Republic.” Liberty and justice for all, he said, will be achieved by keeping commitments already made and by making technological changes work for progress rather than threaten prosperity.

After the meeting, President Johnson walked to the northeast corner of 26th Street and Seventh Avenue to visit a health center truck operated by the union.

Then he strolled along the street, shaking hands with some of the crowd behind police barriers and touching hands with hundreds of others who stretched out their arms as he walked along.

Many in the crowd wished him good luck and good health. One man wished him “mazel tov,” which means good luck in Hebrew.

At another point, a white-haired man called out, “Mr. President, stop the war in Vietnam. Stop the killing of our American boys.” The man was removed by the police.

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