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tv   Interview on Showdown  CSPAN  December 25, 2015 7:48am-7:59am EST

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erik will be signing books and i will be out in the lobby. i/o to people drinks for the thread. way to go. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> we want to hear from you. post your feedback -- feedback. >> wil haygood of the "washington post" and the author of turn 11. what about now on thurgood marshall trust rate i think that one of the things that is so gratifying to me is the art of history in time. sixers ago when i began this book i did not know it would be published on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 voting rights act or the 75th anniversary of the legal defense
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fund of the naacp, which is an arm of the naacp that thurgood marshall founded. and so those two things are just great. and america right now is going through a whole lot of discussions about race. and i think thurgood marshall planted so many of the good seeds when it comes to racial equality in this country. and i'm a trained journalist i do like to tell stories that i like to look for stories that have never been told. emphasis story about thurgood marshall's 1967 senate confirmation hearing have never been told that he was the first african-american nominated to the supreme court. usually those hearings would last for hours or less. that's a long they lasted for
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all of the previous supreme court nominees. thurgood marshall's hearings lasted five days, stretched across 12 days and then his nomination sat in limbo for five weeks. so there's great drama in debt. also with these bigger than life senate figures like senator john mcclellan of arkansas, senator sam ervin, north carolina, strom thurmond, south carolina, james eastland of mississippi, they wanted to stop thurgood marshall's hearing. they wanted to stop him in his attacks because of his work at an naacp lawyer in the '40s and 50s when he took various cases all the way to the supreme court and knocked it down so many of the laws that were hurting blacks. and so in 1967 you have this line drawn in the sand. it was like, it was like wordplay that took place at the
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o.k. corral. thurgood marshall of the legendary lawyer and his legendary senators. and i think my timing just happened to be good, i guess you might say, because it seems that a lot of people around the country have been reacting very positively to this book. high school students, students in college, lay people, judges, lawyers, young, older. and so it's just been extremely wonderful to travel around the country about the people about thurgood marshall who, in terms of history, had seemed somewhat lost. you know, he's not as well known as some of the other iconic figures from the '30s, '40s and '50s and '60s. and i think he should be and to help at this book revised the
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legacy of thurgood marshall. >> host: why do you think is hearing lasted as long as it did? >> guest: well, there were efforts by the southern senators to question marshals rather toss, to question his more to -- gravitons. and so much was going on in the country at that time. there were anti-vietnam protest. it was the right in detroit that broke out on the last day of these hearings. and there was a lot of racial unrest. some of the southern senators try to link that racial unrest to all of the victories that thurgood marshall had one. and so you had a real combustion of philosophies, marshall's philosophy versus southern
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philosophy, which had been to keep the voting rolls down for blacks. and so you had lyndon johnson who finally made it into the oval office in 1963 following the assassination of president kennedy, and lyndon johnson had said to himself, he said, there are three pillars of segregation that i'm going to knock down. he knocked down the first massively with the 1964 civil rights act. he knocked down the second which wawas voting with a 19 city five voting rights act, and he said, my final move will be to get a competent, gifted african-american onto the the
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united states supreme court that was thurgood marshall graduated number one at howard university law school. so marshall was the right man in the right moment at the right time in this country's history. >> host: what was the final vote? how many democrats voted for and against, republicans for and against? >> guest: yes. the final vote was 69-11 which seems why but it's really not because if the southerners had a stop the white house at the 60 votes or less, then they could have filibustered the nomination, and marshall or the white house could not have withstood a filibuster. so in reality, the white house got its nomination through with only nine votes to spare. on the second day of hearings, president johnson was so nervous
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because he thought it would be over with on the first day, like all the previous hearings had been. president johnson was so nervous, he summoned william coleman was a celebrated african-american attorney from philadelphia. and he told william coleman secretly if my main thurgood marshall doesn't make it, then i'm going to nominate you for the supreme court, because i'm hell-bent on integrating the united states supreme court. william coleman had worked with thurgood marshall in 1954 on marshall's titanic victory, the brown schoo school desegregatioe but and william coleman did want to do it. he did want to be second choice. eddie told president johnson that. he also said, what i will do though, i will go around and visit as many of the southern senators and northern senators and western senators as i can, especially the ones who are on
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the fence about thurgood marshall, and i will try to persuade them to vote for thurgood marshall. and so that helped. there is no doubt that that health. >> host: what was the political breakdown, the partisan breakdown? >> guest: will, most of the democrats were southern democrats. so they were the ones who went against the marshall. marshall got a lot of help from republicans, eastern republica republicans. and one of the big heroes of the hearing was everett dirksen of illinois, who would send letters to people telling them this is a signature moment for the united states of america. and we need to show our mettle by confirming thurgood marshall to the supreme court. so it was one of those things that we don't see a lot in washington now.
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it was bipartisan. in the end it really was big and that's how thurgood marshall extended to the supreme court. >> host: it sounds like 20 senators did not vote in that. >> guest: yes. yes, i' i am so glad that you mentioned that. that was the margin of victory. needless to say, lyndon johnson who is a southerner himself, he convinced 20 southern senators do not vote, and that was brilliant. he was a master politician. and he would tell them, he would say look, i'm going to be looking at bridges next year, highway funding. i'm going to go looking for ways to help you. but first i need you to help me. it's called old-fashioned horsetrading. it's still done today but nobody was as masterful at it as lyndon johnson.
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and it's just amazing because senators go to the senate to vote. that's their bread and butter. but he convinced 20 of them back off, don't show up tomorrow into the halls of the u.s. senate. and don't vote. and they didn't vote. so that was amazing. >> host: wil haygood is the author. the book is called "showdown: thurgood marshall and the supreme court nomination that changed america." wil haygood appeared on booktv from columbus, ohio, is home town and a longer segment if you like to see the full segment you can go to booktv.org. type in the author's name and you will be able to watch the whole thing. >> republican candidate for president mike huckabee discussed his book "god, guns, grits and gravy" earlier this year on booktv's author interview program "after words." >> host: is the point of the book. t

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