50 years ago on July 2, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In honor of the momentous occasion, the United States Mint created a commemorative coin.
This day was very important to one woman. Lynn Hayes was just two years old when President Johnson signed the landmark legislation. At 97 years old, her mother still remembers.
“Everybody was running around clapping,” said her mother. “Celebrating and happy.”
Outlawing segregation meant African Americans could now go into places where they couldn't go before.
Lynn asked her mother if it seemed like 50 years ago.
“Yes, it seems like a hundred years ago,” she responded.
That little girl is now 52 years old. Lynn is a graphic designer. Her employer, the United States Mint, approached her about a project to commemorate the Civil Rights Act on its 50th anniversary.
Lynn said she thought of her mother as she helped design the materials that accompany the coin.
As she got older, she experienced desegregation at her school in Takoma Park.
“When you get new kids, a new school, they were nervous, we were nervous,” Lynn told us. “It took time to [think], ‘Oh, these kids aren't so bad. We'll get along.’ You kind of form a bond with them.”
The legislation made it possible for her to get an education and eventually work at the U.S. Mint.
“All the doors were being opened,” she said.
She said it is also a reminder for her own two children.
“I try to tell them a lot of people fought and marched to have equal rights and opportunities, so don't take that for granted,” said Lynn.
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