By Wendy Widom

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, calling it “a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country.”

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Passed 50 years ago today, this sweeping legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public accommodations, employment, and federally funded programs.

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For many Chicagoans, the stroke of Johnson’s pen marked the beginning of a new era, one in which restaurants, hotels and pools opened their doors.

For others, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 represented a culmination of years-long grass-roots efforts led by leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

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Derrick Blakley, veteran reporter here at CBS 2, reflected on how the act changed his life.

“None of those opportunities likely would have been there had it not been for the focus on justice and opening doors that was brought to bear by the Civil Rights Act,” he said.

Blakely, a Northwestern graduate, has had an illustrious career in Chicago, holding positions at the Chicago Tribune, NBC and now CBS.

When he goes to schools and students ask him how he got his job, his answer is simple:

“Martin Luther King got me my job.”

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To hear more from Derrick Blakley about how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 impacted his life, click on the video above.