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Civil Rights Act Passed After 83 Day Filibuster in The Senate - 6/29/64

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Author Topic: Civil Rights Act Passed After 83 Day Filibuster in The Senate - 6/29/64  (Read 117 times)
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« on: June 29, 2008, 11:19:25 am »

President Lyndon B. Johnson talking with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Oval Office
at the White House

Yoichi Okamoto/
Lyndon B. Johnson Library Photo

........In the tempestuous days after the assassination, Johnson helped to calm national hysteria
and ensure continuity in the presidency.

On November 27 he addressed a joint session of Congress and, invoking the memory of the martyred president, urged the passage of Kennedy's legislative agenda, which had been stalled in congressional committees.

He placed greatest importance on Kennedy's civil rights bill, which became the focus of his efforts during the first months of his presidency.

“No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory,” he said,

“than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill.”

In February 1964, after a series of amendments by civil rights supporters, the House passed a much
stronger bill than the one that Kennedy had proposed, and the measure was finally passed by the
Senate in June, after an 83-day filibuster by Southern opponents.
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 11:22:57 am »

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson preparing to sign the Civil Rights Act during a ceremony at the
White House


The Civil Rights Act, which Johnson signed into law on July 2, 1964, was the most comprehensive and far-reaching legislation of its kind in American history.

Among its provisions were a prohibition of racial segregation and discrimination in places of public accommodation, a prohibition of discrimination by race or sex in employment and union membership,
and new guarantees of equal voting rights.

The law also authorized the Justice Department to bring suit against local school boards to end allegedly discriminatory practices, thereby speeding up school desegregation. The constitutionality of the law was immediately challenged but was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1964.

Johnson outlined his domestic agenda in a commencement address at the University of Michigan in May 1964:

“In your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society,

but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all.

It demands an end to poverty and injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time.”

(See primary source document:
The Great Society.)

The Great Society program, beginning with the Civil Rights Act and continuing with other important measures passed during Johnson's second term, was the most impressive body of social legislation
since the New Deal of the 1930s.

It encompassed measures designed to fight the “war on poverty,” including legislation establishing
the Job Corps for the unemployed and the Head Start program for preschool children; new civil rights legislation, such as the Voting Rights Act (1965), which outlawed the literacy tests and other devices used to prevent African Americans from voting; and Medicare and Medicaid, which provided health benefits for the elderly and the poor, respectively. (See primary source document: The War on Poverty.)

Other legislation addressed problems in education, housing and urban development, transportation, environmental conservation, and immigration. Johnson saw these measures as building on and completing the New Deal vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt; with their adoption the United States joined
the ranks of the welfare states of western Europe and Scandinavia.

However, the effect of these undertakings was soon vitiated by increasing American military involvement
in the war in Vietnam, which began during the Eisenhower administration and was accelerated by President Kennedy.
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2008, 11:24:54 am »

                                                   President Lyndon B. Johnson's

                               Radio and Television Remarks Upon Signing the Civil Rights Bill

July 2, 1964

Broadcast from the East Room at the White House
at 6:45 p.m.

Washington, D.C.

My fellow Americans:

I am about to sign into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I want to take this occasion to talk to you about what that law means to every American.

One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor not only to found a nation, but to forge an ideal of freedom--not only for political independence, but for personal liberty--not only to eliminate foreign rule, but to establish the rule of justice in the affairs of men.

That struggle was a turning point in our history. Today in far corners of distant continents, the ideals of those American patriots still shape the struggles of men who hunger for freedom.

This is a proud triumph. Yet those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning. From the minutemen at Concord to the soldiers in Viet-Nam, each generation has been equal to that trust.

Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom. Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities. Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders.

We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment.

We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights.

We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings--not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin.

The reasons are deeply imbedded in history and tradition and the nature of man. We can understand--without rancor or hatred--how this all happened.

But it cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. The principles of our freedom forbid it. Morality forbids it. And the law I will sign tonight forbids it.

That law is the product of months of the most careful debate and discussion. It was proposed more than one year ago by our late and beloved President John F. Kennedy. It received the bipartisan support of more than two-thirds of the Members of both the House and the Senate. An overwhelming majority of Republicans as well as Democrats voted for it.

It has received the thoughtful support of tens of thousands of civic and religious leaders in all parts of this Nation. And it is supported by the great majority of the American people.

The purpose of the law is simple.

It does not restrict the freedom of any American, so long as he respects the rights of others.

It does not give special treatment to any citizen.

It does say the only limit to a man's hope for happiness, and for the future of his children, shall be his own ability.

It does say that there are those who are equal before God shall now also be equal in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public.

I am taking steps to implement the law under my constitutional obligation to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed."

First, I will send to the Senate my nomination of LeRoy Collins to be Director of the Community Relations Service. Governor Collins will bring the experience of a long career of distinguished public service to the task of helping communities solve problems of human relations through reason and commonsense.

Second, I shall appoint an advisory committee of distinguished Americans to assist Governor Collins in his assignment.

Third, I am sending Congress a request for supplemental appropriations to pay for necessary costs of implementing the law, and asking for immediate action.

Fourth, already today in a meeting of my Cabinet this afternoon I directed the agencies of this Government to fully discharge the new responsibilities imposed upon them by the law and to do it without delay, and to keep me personally informed of their progress.

Fifth, I am asking appropriate officials to meet with representative groups to promote greater understanding of the law and to achieve a spirit of compliance.

We must not approach the observance and enforcement of this law in a vengeful spirit. Its purpose is not to punish. Its purpose is not to divide, but to end divisions--divisions which have all lasted too long. Its purpose is national, not regional.

Its purpose is to promote a more abiding commitment to freedom, a more constant pursuit of justice, and a deeper respect for human dignity.

We will achieve these goals because most Americans are law-abiding citizens who want to do what is right.

This is why the Civil Rights Act relies first on voluntary compliance, then on the efforts of local communities and States to secure the rights of citizens. It provides for the national authority to step in only when others cannot or will not do the job.

This Civil Rights Act is 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.

So tonight I urge every public official, every religious leader, every business and professional man, every workingman, every housewife--I urge every American--to join in this effort to bring justice and hope to all our people--and to bring peace to our land.

My fellow citizens, we have come now to a time of testing. We must not fail.

Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our Nation whole. Let us hasten that day when our unmeasured strength and our unbounded spirit will be free to do the great works ordained for this Nation by the just and wise God who is the Father of us all.

Thank you and good night.

NOTE: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241).


Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:

Lyndon B. Johnson,

Volume II, entry 446, pp. 842-844.

Washington, D. C.:
Government Printing Office,
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2008, 11:40:04 am »

President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King in a 1966 meeting.

Yoichi R. Okamoto

                                              Who Passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

By Nicolaus Mills

LIKE SO many of my generation who did voter registration work in the South during the 1960s, I have been saddened by the debate that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sparked over whether Martin Luther King or President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination in hiring and public accommodations. Instead of providing voters with a thoughtful view of the recent past, Clinton and Obama combined to offer a crude, “great man” theory of history in which King's vision and Johnson's pragmatism were portrayed as antithetical forces.

The debate has quieted down. But it should not be allowed to fade from the headlines without a reminder of the lesson this controversy threatened to obscure—blacks and whites across America relied on one another to make the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a reality.

The act had its legislative origins in a June 11, 1963 speech that President John Kennedy delivered on national television after Justice Department officials, aided by federal marshals, forced Alabama Governor George Wallace to stand aside while two black students were admitted to the previously segregated University of Alabama. “If an American, because his skin is dark . . . cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place?” Kennedy asked the country.

But Kennedy's speech, which was followed hours later by the murder of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Jackson, did not guarantee a speedy passage of civil rights legislation. A coalition of southern Democrats and conservative Republicans stood in the way and the best that Kennedy could do before his November 22 assassination was to get his civil rights bill voted out of committee.

It fell to President Lyndon Johnson to get Kennedy's civil rights legislation enacted. Soon after taking office, Johnson made his intentions clear. “We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights,” he told a joint session of Congress on November 27. “It is time now to write the next chapter and to write it in books of law.” At this same time, Martin Luther King was playing a crucial role in shaping public opinion. His April 16 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and his August 28 speech “I Have a Dream” galvanized millions of Americans who in the past had remained passive when support for civil rights was needed.

Still, it was not until 1964 that Kennedy's civil rights bill got through Congress. On February 10, the House passed the bill by a vote of 290 to 130 and on June 19, in the wake of a record-breaking 75-day filibuster, which took up 534 hours, the Senate passed its version of the civil rights bill by a 73 to 27 margin.

Now Lyndon Johnson began pressuring Congress to reach agreement on a bill that he could sign by
July 4.
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2008, 11:45:47 am »

                                            Lyndon Johnson's Fight for Civil Rights

by Cokie Roberts
and Steve Inskeep

Listen Now:

Real Media|Windows MediaExplain these links

President Johnson signs
the Civil Rights Act
into law,

July 2, 1964.


Morning Edition,

July 2, 2004 ·

Forty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill that changed
the face of America. It opened all public accommodations -- hotels, restaurants, swimming pools --
to all Americans regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

The bill also ended legal discrimination in employment on the basis of race or sex, and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the law. The signing ceremony represented a personal triumph
for Johnson, who lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the bill. Recordings of the president's phone conversations
reveal his relentless campaign to wrangle lawmakers in favor of the controversial bill.

NPR's Steve Inskeep and NPR's Cokie Roberts recall Johnson's role in passing the historic act.


                                                           Related NPR Stories

July 1, 2004

'My Soul Looks Back in Wonder': Voices of the Civil Rights StruggleSpecial NPR Coverage: The March of WashingtonJune 29, 2004

J.C. Watts Commentary: Civil Rights Act Turns 40Nov. 15, 2003

White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on LBJJan. 8, 2004

Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty
« Last Edit: June 29, 2008, 11:51:00 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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