On this date 50 years ago the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. In a White House ceremony in the presence of Martin Luther King Jr and other dignitaries President Lyndon Johnson administered the passage of legislation that ended legal discrimination in the United States once and for all. Though the struggle for racial equality in this nation would continue for decades later this newly enacted law would set in motion the dreams and aspirations of African-American men and women to reach new heights of achievement.
It’s important to acknowledge that at the very moment this historic event occurred an African-American climber named Charles Madison Crenchaw was making his way across Karstens Ridge en route to the summit of Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America, also known as Denali. As a member of the Seattle Mountaineers climbing team he would reach the highest physical point in the United States seven days later on July 9, 1964. Within one week of its passage the literal intent of the Civil Rights Act was realized when a black man successfully ascended to the top his country.
The story of Charles Crenchaw is profiled in the forthcoming work of historical nonfiction The Adventure Gap by James Edward Mills and The Mountaineers Books.
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