February 10, 2012


After ten days of debate and voting, on February 10, 1964, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Civil Rights Act of 1964, by a vote of 290-130.

1st Page of House Roll Call

The bill outlawed major forms of discrimination on the basis of race or gender, including in schools, the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.

This particular bill was first introduced by President John F. Kennedy during his Civil Rights speech, in June 1963. In it, he asked for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments," as well as "greater protection for the right to vote." 

President Kennedy During His Civil Rights Speech

The speech was prompted by series of protests across the nation, primarily from the African-American community, including the Birmingham (Alabama) Campaign, which concluded in May,1963. 

Birmingham Fireman Turning the Fire Hose on African-American Protesters

In late November 1963, the assassination of President Kennedy changed the political situation. The new President, Lyndon Johnson, utilized his experience in legislative politics and the bully pulpit he wielded as President, in support of the Bill. In his first address to Congress on November 27, 1963, Johnson told the legislators, "No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."

Following the successful House Vote, The bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964; and the "Southern Bloc" of 18 Southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator, led by Georgia Democratic Senator, Richard Russell, launched a filibuster (the use of extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly) to prevent its passage. Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) States."

Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X went to hear some of the early Senate debates. Amazingly, it is the only time the two met; and the encounter only lasted 60 seconds.

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Before the Senate Debates

The most fervent opposition to the bill came from South Carolina Democratic Senator, Strom Thurmond: "These so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unConstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress.”

Senator Strom Thurmond During His Civil Rights Act Filibuster

On the morning of June 10, 1964, West Virginia Democratic Senator, Robert Byrd, completed a filibustering address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. Finally, with six wavering Senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29. Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a Civil Rights Bill. 

As you can see from the Vote, there was an extreme North-South divide on Civil Rights.

The Results of the Vote:

The House version:

  • Southern Democrats: 7–87   (7%–93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–10   (0%–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145-9   (94%–6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138-24   (85%–15%)

The Senate version:

  • Southern Democrats: 1–20   (5%–95%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–1   (0%–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 45-1   (98%–2%)
  • Northern Republicans: 27-5   (84%–16%)

President Johnson Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into Law

On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Title VII of the Act, a mandate was specified to set up the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which was established on July 2, 1965, and still exists today, with a remit that has been extended to include mandates from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was landmark legislation. While racial and sexual discrimination still definitely exist, I can’t imagine what the country would be like without this Law.

Every day, on Capitol Hill, in the Senate Dining Room, Senate Navy Bean Soup is served. It is legendary, but its origins are somewhat mythical. If you fancy a hearty, warming soup this weekend, try this recipe:

Senate Navy Bean Soup

By CopyKat

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
  • 1 pound dry navy beans
  • 1 smoked ham hock (or substitute with smoked turkey)
  • 3 Tbls butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Wash and rinse beans and pick any debris or dark colored beans.  In a large stockpot combine rinsed beans, ham hock, and 4 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a low-medium heat until the beans are soft, about 2 hours.

While the beans are simmering, heat butter in a medium sized skillet and add garlic, chopped onion, chopped carrot, and chopped celery and sauté until all vegetables are soft.  Add softened vegetables to the beans and stir well.

Remove ham hock from soup, and cut meat into small bite sized pieces and add meat back to soup.  Use a potato masher to slightly mash some of the beans, this will give you a nice velvety texture.  Season soup with salt and pepper before serving.

Sources: Wikipedia, National Archives, Google, Susan Wright, Bing, CopyKat 

1 comment:

  1. as they say life is ever-changing and in part thanks to JFK and LBJ whose goal was equality for all