The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Passage of the Law That Ended Racial Segregation

By Hubert H. Humphrey; Joseph L. Rauh Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Tactics I

John G. Stewart

John Stewart now turns his attention to the tactical problems faced by the pro-civil rights Senate leaders in carrying out their elaborate strategy for defeating the filibuster. This section of Stewart's dissertation covers the surprisingly tough southern resistance to the "motion to consider" the civil rights bill on the Senate floor. Once that obstacle is out of the way, Stewart describes Hubert Humphrey's elaborate efforts to convince Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois to support a cloture vote to end the filibuster and thereby enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. 1

For both the civil rights forces and the southern Democrats, the time had passed for strategy conferences and planning meetings. At the outset of the debate, however, no one knew whether the Senate would prove equal to the crisis of confidence in representative democracy engendered by the civil rights upheavals. And people were not sure what painful course of events might develop if the Senate failed to sustain the essential parts of the decisions already made by the president and the House of Representatives. Some persons forecast violence and disorder in the nation's capital. Others talked of a possible revolution within the Senate itself. 2 Fully aware of this involvement in a momentous legislative encounter, and with no firm assurance of what the future might hold, the senators in mid-February, 1964, finally faced on the Senate floor the issue that was to command their time, attention, energy, and courage until early summer.

-211-

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