O. J. Rapp. President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) speaks to the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, July 2, 1964. Facsimile. Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas (267.01.00)

President Lyndon Johnson made the passage of slain President Kennedy’s civil rights bill his top priority during the first year of his administration. He enlisted the help of the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and key members of Congress such as Senators Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Everett Dirksen (R-IL), and Representatives Emanuel Celler (D-NY), and William McCulloch (R-OH), to secure the bill’s passage. He also asked for support from friend and mentor Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr., (D-GA), the leader of the Southern Democrats in the Senate, who opposed the bill to the very end. Throughout the winter and spring of 1964, Johnson applied his formidable legislative acumen and skills to push the bill through Congress. Republican Senator Dirksen, the Senate minority leader, played a pivotal role in the passage of the act.

On May 26, Senator Dirksen introduced the bi-partisan Dirksen-Mansfield-Kuchel-Humphrey compromise bill as a substitute for the original version. Previously an opponent of civil rights legislation, Senator Dirksen urged Republicans to support the bill as “an idea whose time has come.” On June 10, after a prolonged filibuster, the Senate invoked cloture, thereby cutting off debate. On June 19, exactly one year after President Kennedy’s proposal, the compromise bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73 to 27. House approval followed, and on July 2 President Johnson signed the bill into law. The law’s eleven sections prohibited discrimination in the workplace, public accommodations, public facilities, and agencies receiving federal funds, and strengthened prohibitions on school segregation and discrimination in voter registration.

End of the Poll Tax

On January 23, 1964, the Twenty-fourth Amendment ended the Poll Tax. The amendment prohibits the states or federal government from requiring voters to pay a poll tax before they are able to vote in a national election. The use of the poll tax was revived following the end of Reconstruction as a mechanism to restrict access to voting for underprivileged people in general and African Americans in particular. Though this amendment only applies to national elections, a subsequent 1966 Supreme Court decision in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections overturned an earlier precedent, holding that the use of poll taxes in state elections would violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Associate Justice William O. Douglas (1898−1980). Motion to Proceed in Helen Butts v. Albertis Harrison, Governor (1966). Typed document, August 12, 1965. William O. Douglas Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (202.00.00)

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Legislative Strategy for the Civil Rights Bill

On January 21, 1964, President Johnson met with Clarence Mitchell and Joseph Rauh to discuss legislative strategy. Johnson stated that he opposed any changes to the bill. He made it clear that he did not care if the Senate set aside everything else until the inevitable Southern filibuster was defeated and the bill passed. They all agreed to this no-compromise strategy, believing that any weakening amendment would result in the bill’s defeat when it was returned to the House. They also recognized that the support of Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) (1896–1969) was key to securing the minimum twenty-five Republican votes needed to achieve cloture.

Joseph Rauh. Notes on Meeting: President Johnson, Clarence Mitchell and Joe Rauh, January 21, 1964. Typescript. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5. Joseph Rauh Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (160.00.00)

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Clarence Mitchell, Jr., Calls for “A Real Showdown on Civil Rights”

As the 88th Congress began its second session early in January 1964, hearings on proposed civil rights legislation were about to commence in the House Rules Committee. Clarence Mitchell, Jr., (1911–1984), Washington Bureau director for the NAACP, explains the reason that the legislation has taken so long to reach this stage and calls for “a real showdown on civil rights” in this interview for At Issue: Countdown on Civil Rights, broadcast January 15, 1964, on National Educational Television.

The Smith Amendment

Representative Howard W. Smith (D-VA) (1883–1976) introduced an amendment to Title VII that added protection from employment discrimination on the basis of sex. Smith’s motives were complex. As the chairman of the House Rules Committee and an opponent of civil rights, Smith often used his position to prevent or delay civil rights legislation from coming to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. Given this political legacy, it is often said that Smith may have added his amendment as a means of weakening and dividing the political coalition behind the Civil Rights Act. However, opposition to discrimination on the basis of sex had been growing even before Smith’s amendment.

Chairman Howard W. Smith gavels the House Rules Committee to order, shortly before vote on President Johnson’s foreign aid bill. Photograph, 1963. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (161.00.00)

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Rep. Howard W. Smith (D-VA) on the Civil Rights Bill

As the 88th Congress began its second session early in January 1964, hearings on proposed civil rights legislation were about to commence in the House Rules Committee. Rep. Howard W. Smith (1883–1976) of Virginia, chairman of the Rules Committee, discusses his opinion of the bill in an interview with Robert Novak for At Issue: Countdown on Civil Rights, broadcast January 15, 1964, on National Educational Television.

Lawyer Clifford Alexander Interviewed by Camille O. Cosby in 2006

Lawyer Clifford Alexander, Jr., (b. 1933), chairman of the U.S. Equal Emplyment Opportunity Commission (1967–1968), explains the meaning of the Civil Rights Act and how both blacks and whites in government pushed for change in an interview conducted by Camille O. Cosby (b. 1945) for the National Visionary Leadership Project in 2006.

National Visionary Leadership Collection (AFC 2004/007), American Folklife Center

The 1964 Civil Rights Bill

On November 20, 1963, the civil rights bill was referred to the House Rules Committee. Chairman Howard W. Smith (D-VA), an avid segregationist, refused to grant a rule for the bill’s floor debate. He conceded in early January 1964 under the threat of a discharge petition and public pressure. The Rules Committee finally cleared H.R. 7152 on January 30. The bill that passed the House on February 10 by a 290–130 vote was stronger and broader than the bill President Kennedy proposed. It included additional protection of the right to vote, an FEPC, Part III, provisions on public facilities, and the withholding of federal funds from discriminatory programs. Representative Emanuel Celler (D-NY) initially supported a much stronger bill, with FEPC and Title III authority, but the administration had made an ironclad agreement with Representative William McCulloch (R-OH) not to go beyond its initial scope.

U.S. Congress. H.R. 7152 in the House of Representative 88th Congress, 2nd Session, February 10, 1964. Printed document. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (162.00.00)

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Representative Emanuel Celler (D-NY)

Emanuel Celler (1888–1981) was born in Brooklyn, New York. After earning bachelor and law degrees at Columbia University, he opened a law practice in New York City. In 1922 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for fifty years. Representative Celler served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 1949 to 1972. He also chaired House Subcommittee No. 5, officially an antitrust committee, which he carefully reconstructed to favor civil rights legislation. In this capacity, Celler strengthened and broadened President Kennedy’s civil rights bill and worked with Representative William McCulloch (R-OH) to successfully shepherd the bill through the House. Celler was the author of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960.

The Honorable Emanuel Celler, chairman, Judiciary Committee U.S. House of Representatives. Photograph, n.d. Emanuel Celler Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (163.00.00)

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John Lindsay (R-NY) and Emanuel Celler (D-NY) on the Compromise Bill

On October 29, 1963, the House Judiciary Committee voted to report out a compromise civil rights bill to the full House. Representatives John Lindsay (1921–2000), Republican of New York, who helped craft the compromise bill after a stronger bill had been attacked by the Kennedy Administration and others as having no chance of passing, and Emanuel Celler (1888–1981), Democrat of New York and chairman of the committee, discuss the two bills in this excerpt from At Issue: Countdown on Civil Rights, broadcast January 15, 1964, on National Educational Television.

Appreciation of Strong Bipartisan Support

In this letter NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins expresses his appreciation to Chairman Emanuel Celler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee and Representative William McCulloch (R-OH), the committee’s ranking Republican, for the strong bipartisan support of the civil rights bill in the House, without which crippling amendments would have been enacted. McCulloch also aided the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960.

Roy Wilkins to The Honorable Emanuel Celler, Chairman, Judiciary Committee U.S. House of Representatives, February 21, 1964. Typed letter. Page 2. Emanuel Celler Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (164.00.00)

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Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT)

Mike Mansfield (1903–2001) was born in New York City. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Montana State University in 1933 and 1934. Mansfield’s political career began when he served as a U.S. House Representative from Montana in 1942. He was elected to the Senate in 1952, serving as Democratic whip from 1957 until 1961, when he replaced Lyndon Johnson as majority leader. He held the post for sixteen years, longer than anyone else in history. He played pivotal roles in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and legislation for President Johnson’s Great Society program. Shortly after retiring from the Senate in 1977, Mansfield was named ambassador to Japan by President Carter.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. Photograph, ca. 1968. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (165.00.00)

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“. . . the civil rights fight has opened in the United States Senate. The picture changes from day to day . . .”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, March 12, 1964

Southern Senators Launching a Filibuster

This is the first in a series of letters Clarence Mitchell wrote to chronicle the Senate debate on H.R. 7152. On February 26, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) filed a procedural motion to place the House-passed bill directly on the Senate calendar without the normal referral to Senator James Eastland’s (D-MS) Senate Judiciary Committee, a roadblock for civil rights legislation. When Mansfield moved to take up the motion on March 9, Southern senators countered by launching a filibuster to protest his effort to bypass the Judiciary Committee as a violation of the Senate’s rules. They ended the filibuster on March 25 to avoid an early cloture vote.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, March 12, 1964. Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (167.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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NAACP and LCCR Legislative Strategies and Objectives

In this report Clarence Mitchell outlines the legislative strategy and objectives of the NAACP and LCCR. He also describes how the pro-civil rights senators organized to beat the Southern filibuster. Whips Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Thomas Kuchel (R-CA) were named floor leaders for the bill. Other senators were appointed as floor captains to master and debate the bill’s major titles. Humphrey, Kuchel, their captains, and a Justice Department official, met every morning to discuss tactics. Mitchell and Rauh joined them twice a week. The Humphrey-Kuchel strategy was to delay a cloture motion until they were assured of the two-thirds vote (67 out of 100 senators) required to end the debate.

Clarence Mitchell. Monthly Report of the Washington Bureau, March 5, 1964. Typescript. Page 2 - Page 3. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (166.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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NAACP Lawyer Jack Greenberg Interviewed by Joseph Mosnier in 2011

NAACP lawyer Jack Greenberg (b. 1924) discusses the NAACP's strategy after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in an interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier (b. 1962) for the Civil Rights History Project in 2011.

Civil Rights History Project Collection (AFC 2010/039), American Folklife Center

Senator Richard Russell (D-GA)

Richard Russell (1897–1971) was born in Winder, Georgia. After earning a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1918 and serving in the state General Assembly, he was elected governor of Georgia in 1930. In 1932, he won a special election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat and was reelected from 1942 to 1966. In 1935 and 1937 he led filibusters against antilynching bills, and in 1944 and 1945 he helped defund the FEPC. By the late 1940s, he had become the acknowledged leader of the Southern Caucus of the Democratic Party, or Southern bloc. Russell planned strategies for the filibusters against the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964. Despite this dissent, he was highly respected by Senate colleagues for his integrity, wisdom, command of parliamentary rules and precedents, and ability to work out compromises.

Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. Photograph, n.d. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (168.00.00)

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A Review of the Bill

President Johnson delegated the tactical decision-making on the civil rights bill to Attorney General Robert Kennedy (1925–1968), Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach (1922–2012), and Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall (1922–2003), all of whom worked closely with Senate Majority Leader Mansfield (D-MT) and Senator Humphrey (D-MN) at every stage of the debate. On March 10, Clarence Mitchell and Joseph Rauh met with Katzenbach and Marshall to explore the possibility of adding amendments to strengthen the bill. In this letter Mitchell included a summary of their discussion of the bill—title by title.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, March 12, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 1). Typed letter and attachment. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (170.00.00, 170.01.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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The Importance of Quorums

In this memorandum Arnold Aronson explains the importance of quorums. Under Senate rules each senator could deliver only two speeches on the same subject in a legislative day. Two senators could sustain a filibuster for eight hours by demanding frequent quorum calls that required fifty-one opposing senators to answer a roll call. If the opponents failed to produce a quorum, the Senate had to adjourn. The next day the filibustering senators could begin a new round of speeches. Senator Humphrey (D-MN) and Senator Thomas Kuchel (R-CA) (1910–1994) addressed the quorum problem by dividing their troops into platoons and setting up a duty roster. Humphrey was committed to producing a daily quota of thirty-six Democratic senators for quorums; Kuchel pledged fifteen Republicans.

Arnold Aronson, secretary, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights to Cooperating Organizations regarding senators who support the civil rights bill, (MEMO: No. 29), March 16, 1964. Memorandum. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (171.00.00)

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“We have a great team of senators led by Senators Hubert Humphrey . . . and Thomas Kuchel . . . .”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, March 27, 1964

“The Civil Rights Bill is now the pending business in the Senate. The fight is on. We will need every vote that we can get.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, March 27, 1964

The Morse Motion

Senator Wayne Morse (D-OR) (1900–1974), filed a motion to send H.R. 7152 to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator James Eastland (D-MS), with instructions that it be reported out after ten days. On March 19, he suggested that this referral would give the Senate time to consider a coffee bill that would help in Latin-American relations. In an open telegram Clarence Mitchell retorted, “Surely our country should not ask its colored citizens to stand aside for international coffee problems when they are being arrested, beaten, and bitten by dogs simply because they seek to purchase this beverage at public lunch counters.” The Morse motion was defeated on March 26.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins concerning the vote in the Senate to defeat Senator Wayne Morse’s motion to send the civil rights bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator James Eastland, March 27, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 3). NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (172.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Senator James Eastland (D-MS)

James Eastland (1904–1986) was born in the Mississippi Delta. After pursuing studies at Vanderbilt University and the University of Mississippi, he began a law practice in 1927. From 1928 to 1932, he served in the State House of Representatives. In 1941 he was appointed to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Eastland won the special election in 1942 and spent the next thirty-six years in the Senate. An unrelenting opponent of civil rights, he voted against antilynching and poll tax bills, and the extension of the FEPC. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, he joined forces with the White Citizens’ Councils to fight integration. As chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, a post he held from 1956 to 1978, Eastland blocked civil rights legislation, claiming in 1966 to have defeated 127 such measures.

James O. Eastland. Photograph, 1956. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (173.00.00)

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Formal Debate Begins on the Civil Rights Bill

On March 30, the Senate began formal debate on H.R. 7152. Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) divided the senators opposing the bill, known as the Southern bloc, into three six-member platoons to prolong the filibuster. When one platoon had the floor, the other two rested and prepared to speak. Each member was responsible for talking four hours per day. Russell hoped the filibuster would erode public support for civil rights and compel the pro-civil rights senators to dilute H.R. 7152 in order to secure passage. He did not expect to defeat the bill.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, April 3, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 4). Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (174.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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If they don't watch out they're gonna ruin it!

Comparing the pending Civil Rights legislation to a delicate cake, conservative cartoonist Gib Crockett, chief cartoonist at the Washington Star, blames extremism for ruining Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey’s hard work. Frank Lausche, a conservative Democrat from Ohio turns toward the unseen events. This cartoon may refer to Malcolm X’s “Ballot or the Bullet” speech at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, which he gave on April 12, 1964. It was a militant reaction to a lack of civil rights for African Americans.

Gib Crockett. If they don't watch out they're gonna ruin it! 1964. Graphite, crayon, and India ink drawing. Published in the Washington Star, April 15, 1964. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (281.01.00)

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Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN)

Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978) was raised in South Dakota. He earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Minnesota in 1939 and an M.A. at Louisiana State University in 1940, then returned to Minnesota to teach college. He was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1945. As mayor he led the fight at the 1948 Democratic National Convention to adopt a pro-civil rights platform. That same year, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served the next sixteen years. In 1960 he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination but lost to John Kennedy. In 1961, he was elected Democratic whip. He served concurrently as the Democratic floor leader for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Later that year, he was elected vice president on the Democratic ticket with Lyndon Johnson. As vice president, Humphrey worked with Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Medicare.

Hubert H. Humphrey. Photograph, n.d. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (175.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Senators Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Strom Thurmond (D-SC) Debate the Civil Rights Bill

As southern senators opposed to the civil rights bill filibustered to prevent it from reaching the Senate floor for consideration, two senators on opposite sides of the issue participated in a live televised debate—Senator Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978), Democrat of Minnesota, the majority whip and floor manager of the fight to pass the bill; and Senator Strom Thurmond (1902–2003), then Democrat of South Carolina, who was fervently opposed to the bill. The debate was broadcast on March 18, 1964, on CBS Reports: Filibuster—Birth Struggle of a Law.

Civil Rights Legislation on the Fast Track

Senator Wayne Morse (D-OR) sails into the air after his motion to send the proposed Civil Rights legislation to the Judiciary Committee was defeated on March 26, 1964. Conservative cartoonist Gib Crockett, chief cartoonist at the Washington Star, appropriately uses a high-speed train as the metaphor for the Civil Rights legislation. After Morse’s motion was defeated, the Senate moved forward to debate it, driven by Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, because President Lyndon Baines Johnson had put it on the fast track.

Gib Crockett. The switchman knew when he felt the bump, that the man at the throttle was Hubert Hump! 1964. Ink brush, crayon, and opaque white drawing. Published in the Washington Star, March 30, 1964. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (269.00.00)

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Senator Thomas Kuchel (R-CA)

Thomas H. Kuchel (1910–1994) was born in Anaheim, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 1932 and the university’s law school in 1937. He entered politics in California, serving in the state assembly (1936–1939), the state senate (1940–1945), and as state controller (1946–1953). He was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1952 by his mentor, Governor Earl Warren, to fill the seat vacated by Richard Nixon, who had been elected vice president. Kuchel was reelected in 1956 and 1962, and was Republican whip from 1959 to 1969. A liberal Republican, Kuchel supported civil rights bills, the desegregation of public facilities, and Medicare. He served as the Republican floor leader for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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“We need much word from home urging Senators to knock out any crippling amendments and pass a strong bill that includes FEPC, Public Accommodations and all other titles of the House passed bill.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, April 10, 1964

Reservations about the Bill

Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) had reservations about H.R. 7152, particularly its Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) (Title VII) and the public accommodations (Title II) sections. He offered forty-nine fair employment amendments to the Republican policy committee on April 7 and to the entire Republican caucus the next day. The changes he sought undermined the proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). One amendment barred the EEOC from seeking court orders to end discriminatory hiring practices. Another required the EEOC to surrender its jurisdiction over cases to state fair employment agencies.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, April 10, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 5). Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (177.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL)

Everett Dirksen (1896–1969) grew up in the small town of Pekin, Illinois. He entered the University of Minnesota to study law but left to serve in World War I. His long career in public service began with his election to the city council in 1926. In 1932, he won his bid for a congressional seat. In 1950 he was elected to the Senate and in 1957 elevated to minority whip. In 1959 he became the Republican minority leader, a post he held until his death. Through his service on the Judiciary Committee, he acquired an intimate knowledge of civil rights issues. Dirksen worked with Lyndon Johnson on the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and provided valuable support in securing the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Everett McKinley Dirksen. Photograph, n.d. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (178.00.00)

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Senator Everett Dirksen’s (R-IL) Amendments to Title VII

Senator Everett Dirksen (1896–1969), Republican from Illinois and Senate minority leader, comments on his amendments to Title VII, the employment section of the civil rights bill. The interview for The Great Divide: Civil Rights and the Bill, broadcast on ABC, May 22, 1964, was recorded earlier that week. After a compromise with Democratic Party leaders in the Senate, Dirksen was instrumental in persuading fellow Republicans to support the bill, and the filibuster that had held up passage ended.

Dirksen Amendments to Title VII

Faced with opposition from his fellow Republicans, Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) reconsidered his FEPC amendments. He presented only ten amendments to the Senate on April 16. He claimed that he was trying to attract the votes of swing Republican senators through the weakening amendments to the FEPC section (Title VII), not kill the bill. This memorandum offers an assessment of the Dirksen amendments and their potential effect on H.R. 7152.

NAACP Washington Bureau. Dirksen Amendments to Title VII, April 22, 1964. Memorandum. Page 2. Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (179.00.00)

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“Many Senators who strongly favor the Civil Rights Bill are supporting Senators Mansfield and Dirksen who have offered a substitute amendment. The Department of Justice says that the Mansfield-Dirksen amendment would not prevent effective enforcement of the new Civil Rights Bill.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, April 24, 1964

Treatment of Contempt Cases

On April 21, Senator Herman Talmadge (D-GA) (1913–2002) called up his amendment requiring jury trials for all criminal contempt cases in the federal courts. It was withdrawn in favor of one by Senator Thruston Morton (R-KY) requiring a jury trial for any criminal contempt case arising from H.R. 7152. Civil rights advocates opposed the amendments because they doubted that Southern juries would convict white violators. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) worked with Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) to offer a substitute amendment. It granted a judge the right to authorize a jury trial in all criminal contempt cases arising from the bill. If the accused was tried without a jury, the judge would be limited in the penalties he could impose to fines of up to $300 or sentences of up to thirty days.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, April 24, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 7). Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (180.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Seminary Students’ Vigil

Religious organizations played an important role in the Leadership Conference’s lobbying strategy. On April 19 Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish seminary students began a prayer vigil in support of the civil rights bill at the Lincoln Memorial. Groups composed of students from each faith took turns standing in silent prayer twenty-four hours a day. The prayer vigil continued through the Senate debate. Sixty-five hundred representatives of the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths attended a National Interreligious Convocation at Georgetown University on April 28 to reach out to wavering senators and display religious unity for civil rights. Howard Brodie, a courtroom artist, covered the debates for CBS News and sketched the students on Sunday, May 3, 1964, when the Senate was not in session.

Howard Brodie (1915–2010). Seminary students vigil length of civil rights debate (across street from Lincoln Memorial), May 3, 1964. Drawing. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (181.00.00) © Estate of Howard Brodie

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Letter from Jane Horn

In 1964, Jane Horn (b. 1938) worked for the Protestant Council of the City of New York. She organized 1,000 church and labor union members on a trip to Washington, D.C., to march in support of the Civil Rights Act. Horn also participated in the silent vigil in support of the act. Beginning in April of 1964, Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant seminary students served in shifts at the Lincoln Memorial, silently praying night and day until the act was passed by the Senate on June 19.

Jane Horn to the Voices of Civil Rights Project, June 5, 2004. Letter. Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (253.00.00) Courtesy of Jane Horn

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Senate Civil Rights Debate

Working for CBS as a courtroom illustrator, Howard Brodie (1915–2010) captured not only the action on the Senate floor, but the sensibility of the crowd in the gallery above. Blacks, whites, the elderly, the young, men and women gathered together, united in their desire to see the creation of the historic legislation.

Howard Brodie. Senate Civil Rights debate, Gallery. Crayon drawing, 1964. Howard Brodie Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (181.01.00) © Estate of Howard Brodie

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“It is expected that the Mansfield-Dirksen amendment will be approved by a substantial vote.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, May 8, 1964

The Mansfield-Dirksen Amendment

The Morton jury trial amendment was defeated on May 6 by a vote of 46–45. Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) refused to allow a vote on the bi-partisan Mansfield-Dirksen substitute. On June 5, Bourke Hickenlooper (R-IA) proposed a unanimous consent request that the Senate vote on three amendments before cloture, including one by Senator Thruston Morton (R-KY) that guaranteed jury trials in all criminal contempt cases, except in voting rights. The Senate approved the Morton amendment by a vote of 51–48 on June 9. Hubert Humphrey made a deal with Hickenlooper and three of his allies to substitute it for the Mansfield-Dirksen jury trial amendment in exchange for their cloture votes.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, May 8, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 9). Typed letter. Page 2. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (183.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Full-Scale Negotiations with Dirksen

Senator Everett Dirksen’s work with Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) on the jury trial amendment signaled his willingness to cooperate with the pro-civil rights forces. On May 5, Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) began full-scale negotiations with Dirksen. They were joined by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Commerce Committee Chairman Warren Magnuson, and Republican senators Kuchel, Hickenlooper, and Aiken. The group met for three weeks in Dirksen’s office. Dirksen and his staff had developed more than seventy amendments covering every title of H.R. 7152. On May 13, the group reached a tentative agreement.

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Senator Barry Goldwater’s Speech at Madison Square Garden

On May 12, senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) (1909–1998) delivered a speech before a crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden in the first large rally of the 1964 presidential campaign. In the speech he accused the Johnson administration of fomenting “violence, destruction, and disobedience,” an allusion to civil rights protests. He also said that integration was “a problem of the heart and of the mind . . . You cannot pass a law that will make me like you—or you like me.” Goldwater voted against cloture and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Roy Wilkins sent this telegram in response to the speech.

Roy Wilkins to Senator Barry Goldwater, May 13, 1964. Transcript of telegram. Page 2. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (185.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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“We have conferred with Representative Emanuel Celler . . . and Representative William McCulloch . . . Both of them assure us that they will insist that the Senate retain enforcement power in the bill.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, May 22, 1964

A Compromise Bill

On May 26, the Senate’s top leaders in each party—Senators Mansfield (D-MT), Dirksen (R-IL), Humphrey (D-MN), and Kuchel (R-CA)—introduced a substitute bill. The compromise bill primarily reduced the emphasis on federal enforcement in cases of fair employment (Title VII) and public accommodations (Title II) violations. It made concessions to Dirksen on occasion in language and substance, but the provisions of the House-passed bill remained basically intact.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins concerning Senator Everett Dirksen’s support of the civil rights bill, (Senate Letter No. 11). Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (186.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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Letter from Roy H. Millenson

Roy H. Millenson (b. 1922) was a staff member for Jacob K. Javits, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and later a U.S. senator from New York. In 1964, Millenson worked for the American Jewish Committee as a lobbyist. Along with representatives from other religious organizations, he urged lawmakers to pass the Civil Rights Act and observed how they voted from the gallery of the House of Representatives, much to the displeasure of some House members.

Letter from Roy H. Millenson to the Voices of Civil Rights Project, December 9, 2003. Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (275.00.00) Courtesy of Roy Millenson

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"It appears he doesn't favor amendments, after all"

As the filibuster over the issue of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came to an end in the Senate, Southern Democrats proceeded to attach amendments to the bill, some serious enough to have eliminated its legislative efficacy. President Johnson cajoled, called in favors, and even resorted to threats, as implied in this cartoon. Hubert Humphrey, then a Democratic senator from Minnesota, favored the legislation, having urged his party to “walk into the sunshine of human rights.”

Gib Crockett. “It appears he doesn’t favor amendments, after all.” Drawing, ink brush and crayon, with opaque white over graphite, May 4, 1964. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (281.00.00)

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“Senators Mansfield and Dirksen announced the plan to file the cloture petition on the floor.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, June 2, 1964

Three Amendments Presented for Senate Vote

On June 5, Bourke Hickenlooper (R-IA) (1896−1971), with the support of seventeen Republicans, proposed a unanimous consent request that the Senate vote on three amendments before cloture: the Morton jury trial amendment; an amendment by Senator Norris Cotton (R-NH) (1900–1989) limiting the coverage of Title VII (fair employment); and a Hickenlooper amendment to eliminate training provisions in Title IV (desegregation of public education). Senators Humphrey and Dirksen did not have the sixty-seven votes required for cloture without Hickenlooper’s cooperation. Therefore, he was allowed to present his amendments. The Morton amendment was adopted; the others were defeated.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy, June 2, 1964. Typed letter and memorandum. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (187.00.00, 187.01.00)

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“We’re a hundred years late, but we’re rolling”

Cartoonist Bill Mauldin compares the Senate decision to invoke cloture and end seventy-five days of filibuster in the Senate on June 10, 1964, to the American Civil War a century before. Cloture, a parliamentary procedure used in the Senate to end a filibuster—the endless speeches used to prevent the passage of legislation—forced the senators to complete their negotiations. For Mauldin, who promoted equality, the cloture vote marked progress toward passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Bill Mauldin (1921–2003). "We’re a hundred years late, but we’re rolling." Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, June 14, 1964. Drawing. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (188.00.00)

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“Busiest time we’ve had in years”

Imaging a florist busily responding with gratitude towards Congress, President Johnson, and Civil Rights leaders, Herblock captures sudden good will as the Senate voted for cloture to end fifty-four days of filibuster on the Civil Rights Act on June 10, 1954. The Senate finally passed the legislation on June 19, 1964. The Civil Rights Act was not the only item on President Johnson’s legislative agenda—which led one reporter to call him “a ‘Texas Santa Claus’ in a ten-gallon hat.”

Herblock. “Busiest time we’ve had in years,” 1964. Graphite and India ink drawing. Published in the Washington Post, June 12, 1964. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (188.01.00)

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The Killing of Civil Rights Workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner

On June 21, 1964, the first day of Mississippi Freedom Summer—organized by the Council of Federated Organizations—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner drove to Neshoba County to investigate the burning of a black church following a voting rights meeting. On their way home, the civil rights workers were arrested and jailed by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price. Price and local Klansmen took them to a remote area, where they were tortured, shot to death, and buried in an earthen dam. On June 23, Choctaw hunters found their burned car in the Bogue Chitto swamps. President Johnson launched a massive FBI search and investigation. Their bodies were discovered on August 4 outside the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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Civil Rights Activist Gwendolyn Simmons Interviewed by Joseph Mosnier in 2011

Civil rights activist Gwendolyn Simmons (b. 1944) discusses Freedom Summer and her shock that Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were murdered in an interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier (b. 1962) for the Civil Rights History Project in 2011.

Civil Rights History Project Collection (AFC 2010/039), American Folklife Center

Passage of Civil Rights Bill, Final Vote

Artist Howard Brodie captures the hustle and bustle of the Senate floor, the sense of people in the packed gallery pressing to see everything below, and the pages rushing to the edge of the dais on June 19, 1964, when the Senate voted to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the bill into law. Brodie, a courtroom artist, covered the debates for CBS News.

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“In a jammed chamber of the U.S. Senate there came the solemn moment on Friday, June 19, when the eleven title Civil Rights Bill was approved by a vote of 73 to 27.”

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, June 20, 1964

The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

At 9:51 a.m. on June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) (1917–2010) completed an all-night filibustering speech opposing H.R. 7152. Senators Russell (D-GA), Mansfield (D-MT), Humphrey (D-MN), and Dirksen (R-IL) followed with remarks. The clerk proceeded with the roll call at 11:00 a.m. The Senate voted 71–29 for cloture, thereby limiting further debate. The final tally was forty-four Democrats and twenty-seven Republicans voting for cloture with twenty-three Democrats and six Republicans opposed. It was the first time the Senate voted to end a filibuster over a civil rights bill. On June 19, the substitute (compromise) bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73–27. In this letter Clarence Mitchell recounts and celebrates the moment.

Clarence Mitchell to Roy Wilkins, June 20, 1964 (Senate Letter No. 15). Typed letter. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (193.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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“A Long Struggle for Freedom”

“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. . . .”

President Lyndon B. Johnson understood not only the historic importance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but also the significance of the timing for its signing and the presentation of the act’s meaning to the nation. The president’s writers prepared six drafts of the speech before the final version was set for the teleprompter feed that Johnson used to read his televised remarks that evening. The teleprompter version and the final draft, shown here, indicate that the inclusion of the word “long” in the address was added by the president extemporaneously. The addition of this small word expressed the hard-fought, step-by-step efforts of countless Americans over the course of a century, in the slow progression towards realizing civil rights.

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  • Teleprompter feed for Lyndon Johnson’s speech at the signing ceremony of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, July 2, 1964. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6. Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas (194.01.00)

  • Remarks of the president, final draft, July 2, 1964. Facsimile. Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas (282.00.00)

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Radio Coverage of President’s Johnson’s Remarks upon Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Complete Speech

President Johnson’s speech was delivered just two days before the 188th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. In it the president cited the phrase “all men are created equal” and pointed out that historically many Americans were denied equal treatment. The Civil Rights Act, he said, provides that “those who are equal before God shall now all be equal” in all aspects of American life. As President Johnson said, this was a long journey to freedom.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

The Signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the East Room of the White House before an audience that included Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL), Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, James Forman, Roy Wilkins, Clarence Mitchell, Dorothy Height, and many other congressional and civic leaders, religious organizations, and labor leaders. The ceremony and the president’s remarks were broadcast live on television and radio at 6:45 p.m., on July 2, 1964.

O. J. Rapp. President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) speaks to the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, July 2, 1964. Facsimile. Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas (267.01.00)

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Television Coverage of President’s Johnson’s Remarks upon Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Excerpts from the Speech

President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) signed the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, in a nationally televised ceremony in the East Room of the White House before Congressional leaders and civil rights leaders instrumental in the bill’s passage. This excerpt of the speech he made before signing the bill was included in H. R. 7152—The Civil Rights Bill, broadcast July 3, 1964, on NBC.

President Johnson Seeks Support of Civil Rights Leaders

Immediately after signing the act, President Johnson held a meeting with civil rights leaders in the cabinet room at the White House. He wanted to ensure their collaboration, when the act would inevitably be tested, to not call for demonstrations and to carefully select test cases in the courts. In turn the president promised the full support of the Justice Department in protecting the act. He received assurances from those present that they understood and would cooperate.

Lee C. White. White House Memorandum, July 6, 1964. Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas (195.02.00)

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Edwards, Mitchell, and Rauh

From 1950 to 1978, Clarence Mitchell and Joseph Rauh were the LCCR’s chief lobbyists for civil rights issues. Senator Harry Byrd (D-VA) disparagingly dubbed the inseparable and indefatigable partners the “Gold Dust Twins,” referring to the picture of the trademark African American twins on the label of Fairbank’s Gold Dust Washing Powder products. Mitchell and Rauh successfully lobbied for the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, 1970, and 1975; and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Representative Don Edwards (D-CA) was the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.

Representative Don Edwards (D-CA), Clarence Mitchell, and Joseph Rauh. Photograph, n.d. Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (259.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP

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