TODAY   |  April 10, 2014

Presidents mark Civil Rights Act’s 50 anniversary

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, four presidents are joining civil rights leaders at a summit in Austin. NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver reports.

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>>> president lyndon johnson signed the groundbreaking civil rights act of 1964 giving new protections to people of races gender it's and religions. four presidents are joining at a summit at the l.b.j. library in austin, texas. maria shriver is also one of the participant. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> you got the former presidents all speaking at the summit. what are the themes you've been hearing so far?

>> well, president cart spoke the other night and he spoke about the growing disparity between richard ford and also women as a civil rights issue today. pay back gender. and he spoke about women not just here but around the world. president clinton talked about the civil discourse going on in washington. he longs for a time when he was president where people actually worked together. he talked about that time. also when president johnson was able to bring both sides together. he also praised republicans for their lack of supporting the vote rege form act. let's take a look.

>> i am concerned that on this 50th anniversary these divisions and the lack of a spirit of coming together put us back in the dust bin of old history.

>> president obama is coming here this morning, and he is expected to talk about lyndon johnson as his inspiration. he's obviously the first african- american president . and a beneficiary of that legislation. he's also going to talk about what he sees as civil rights issues today. marriage equality , the pay gap , women's rights. it's an exciting day and president bush is going to speak here tonight about education and the civil rights issues in his opinion.

>> he says it's the civil rights issue. you and your family have a long history. sargent shriver fought for the war on poverty with lbj. and i know you're going to speak as well.

>> i was invited to speak here today. and i'm going to talk about how to make an impact with social issues in a very crowded climate. i think what's interesting, savannah, is when president johnson spoke about civil rights it was in terms of black versus white. now you have people talking about marriage equality , immigration, rich, poor, women's rights. so the civil rights issue is no longer black and white it's more like "fifty shades of grey."

>> maria, i know you'll keep us posted what happens, but