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Bush signs off on commemorative civil rights coin

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 3, 2008 at 3:53 p.m.

President Bush has signed legislation to mint a commemorative silver dollar marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Sponsors of the measure include President-elect Barack Obama, and Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement from Atlanta.

The Civil Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, barred restaurants, hotels and other public places from denying service to blacks and outlawed employment discrimination against women and minorities.

Congress, which approves up to two commemorative coins per year, signed off on the coin last month. Bush signed the bill Tuesday.

The U.S. Mint is slated to produce 350,000 of the $1 coins in 2014, which will be 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was signed. Proceeds would cover the cost of production and generate an expected $2 million to $3 million to be donated to the United Negro College Fund.

"It is only fitting that we pass this legislation weeks after the election of our nation's first African-American president," said Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who joined Lewis and Obama in spearheading the effort along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains one of the most effective, influential pieces of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in the last century, and is the bedrock for the America we know today."

Past commemorative coins have celebrated Civil War battlefields, various Olympic games, the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament and the Statue of Liberty. Last year, the U.S. Mint began selling a coin marking the 50th anniversary of the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

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