On July 2, 1964, Congress completed what many consider to be the most fundamental and consequential legislation in our long history, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
And as our nation comes together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the bill’s final passage, many will rightly recall the names of those who stood in the face of violence and injustice during the civil rights movement, so that every citizen – regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin – may truly pursue happiness without discrimination or segregation.
It was a movement whose time had come, and quietly at its forefront was a farm kid from Ohio, William McCulloch.
In the fanfare of history, it’s easy to overlook the small moments that make big things possible, but it was a deal struck by Congressman McCulloch in Piqua, Ohio, that – a year before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law – led to a bill that would prove capable of fulfilling the promise of justice and liberty for all.
Passage of the Civil Rights Act is rightly regarded as one of the House’s finest hours, and when the final vote neared, the chamber paused for a standing ovation – and it was for William McCulloch.
I’m particularly proud of the key role he played, and I’m deeply honored for the privilege to represent the same corner of Ohio that McCulloch called home.
His story reminds us that while there is no indispensable man, there is the common man who doesn’t use his status for personal gain – but to serve others. “In a democratic society like ours,” McCulloch once said, “the purpose of representative government is to soften tension – reduce strife – while enabling groups and individuals to more nearly obtain the kind of life they wish to live.”
While William McCulloch isn’t a household name, it doesn’t have to be. That’s because, for him, the biggest thing was the right thing.
So as we come together and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I invite all Ohioans to join me in remembering one of our very own, William Moore McCulloch.
Boehner is a Republican who represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.