LBJ's second great battle: Enforcing the Civil Rights Act - Los Angeles Times: When Lyndon Johnson became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, so closely had he played his political cards that nobody was exactly sure what he believed in. Very quickly, the surprising answer became clear: civil rights. Johnson went all-in on Kennedy's stalled bill, declaring: "What's the point of being president if you can't do what you know is right?"
Eight months later, on July 2, after the defeat of the longest filibuster in Senate history, Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law. LBJ and his Senate allies, especially Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey and Montana's Mike Mansfield, deserve all the credit they get. But of course the real heavy lifting had been done by civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, Bob Moses, James Farmer and their weary, long-suffering foot soldiers. The Civil Rights Act was the culmination of decades of bitter struggle and very real sacrifice. Only 11 days before Johnson signed the act, three young Freedom Summer volunteers disappeared in Mississippi. The bodies of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman would not be recovered for another month.