Art Quilt: 1968: President Lyndon Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act

LBJ's civil rights legislation memorialized in a story quilt

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by Kathryn Siefker, Associate Curator of Exhibition Content

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1968. An expansion of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, popularly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and sex.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 came at a time when many minorities were barred from renting or buying homes in certain neighborhoods because of their race. The legislation cleared the way legally for equal access to homes.

Four decades later, a story quilt by California artist Connie Horne commemorates the Fair Housing Act and the personal impact it made on the lives of minority groups throughout the United States. The quilt begins with LBJ's signing of the act and then tells the story of an African American couple on their path to homeownership. They secure funding from a bank and purchase a picturesque home in a white neighborhood. The couple walks up Fair Housing Road to their new home, No. 1968, as their white neighbors look on.

The quilt, with its textures, colors, and simple narrative, brings to life the last of LBJ's great legislative civil rights achievements. His lasting legacy as President of the United States is best expressed in his own words.  

"Now, with this bill, the voice of justice speaks again. It proclaims that fair housing for all—all human beings who live in this country—is now a part of the American way of life."  (Lyndon Johnson, April 11, 1968)

Connie Horne's quilt, 1968: President Lyndon Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act, is part of a nationally traveling exhibition And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations, organized by the Women of Color Quilters Network in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

 

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Art Quilt: 1968: President Lyndon Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act Artifact from Austin, Texas
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