In 2014, the U.S. Mint honored the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Commemorative Coin. The coin’s designs are emblematic of the enactment of the Act and its contribution to civil rights in America. Equality in education was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement. Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 greatly expanded civil rights protections, outlawing racial segregation in public places and places of public accommodation; funding federal programs; and encouraging desegregation in public schools.
The obverse (heads) design features three people holding hands at a civil rights march. The man holds a sign that reads “We Shall Overcome.” The design is symbolic of all marches that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
The reverse (tails) design features three flames intertwined to symbolize the freedom of education, freedom to vote and freedom to control one’s own destiny. The design was inspired by the following quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “They get the fire hose. They fail to realize that water can only put out physical fire. But water can never drown the fire of freedom.”