HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- President Obama is marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being passed by giving a speech in Austin, Texas on Thursday.
Stan Maclin was 11 years old when the Civil Rights Act became law. He said the fact that more than 40 languages are spoken in Harrisonburg schools is a sign of how far we have come in terms of diversity.
However, he said the lack of black elected leaders in the Valley is an area that needs improvement.
Maclin said things were much different before 1964 as there was massive segregation in schools, stores and in the workplace. He said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced integration.
Fifty years later, he said diversity seen in schools today is a sign of progress; however, he believes younger generations may take things for granted and they must never forget the sacrifice it took to get to this point.
"Some vicious things really happened. We must never forget some of the harshness and the brutality and the viciousness and some of the hideous things that happened to African Americans to achieve, just the opportunity to be called a citizen," said Maclin.
The bill was actually signed on July 2, 1964; however, the gathering in Austin is bringing together former presidents to honor the 50th anniversary.
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