tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 3, 2014 5:30am-7:31am EDT
today, but first, talk about the process. >> so many things could have gone wrong, in the house judiciary committee, the most liberal in the party tried to load the bill up, relieved to have an actual bill they loaded up with provisions. for example, they wanted to apply to state and local elections, have strong employment discrimination measures that they said, oh, this can't pass the full house much less pass the senate. one of the last things kennedy did in terms of legislative negotiations was to very adroitly in contrast to the reputation as not being a very good legislation craftsman, he really rained that in and got the committee to pass a bill that was strong and had teeth in it and would be enforceable, but not such a christmas tree of things that it would all fall apart. that's one thing in the process. when the bill got to the house floor, the challenge was not to
keep it from being too strong, but keep it from being weakened on the floor, and because they conducted debate in what's known as the committee of the whole, votes were not recorded by and large, and the only way to know how someone voted was to be there physically and watch, and except for reporters, no one could take notes on paper in the house gallery so the forces led by clarence mitchell and others devised a system of gallery watchers, the segregationists called them vultures, but they had to sit there and keep notes in their head who was voting how, what amendment, and in the precell phone era, had to round up family members to make sure enough were on the floor at any one time to defeat hostile legislative mischief, so a bunch of young activists led by a woman working for the textiles who is still alive fighting all the fights, would sit in a telephone tree and they heard
something was happening on the floor, they would physically go run office to office, going come on, and after three days of this, they said, you don't have to come, i'm coming. she felt guilty when it was over, she stayed up baking sugar cookies with chocolate frosting and equal signs. >> is it accurate to say this was maybe one of the first modern lobbying efforts? >> i think in that way it was a very much one of the first grassroots lobbying efforts and crucial part i did not talk about yet is the ground swell of religious interfaith support for the bill, and across all denominations, and it was applied not willie-nilly, but in a targeted way. the northern and eastern democrats knew that labor unions could play a role because politicians in those states were motivated by things like organized labor, but in the
midwest and plain states, republicans disproportionally, those movements did not have the same, and, in fact, could have backfired, and those members had no large black constituenciecon but had methodists,p baptists, d they lobbied senators one by one, and, you know, day after day with their law school classmates from notre dame or their bishops, and muttering in the cloak room one day after taking a vote to procedurely support the bill, i hope that satisfies the two bishops who called me last night, and it was saltier than that, and that was a remarkable application of strategic lobbying that, in some ways, continued the next year with the voting rights act. we have not seen it again. we tend to think of religious activism being the political
right, but this was the last full firing of the religious left. >> tickets to the senate, a lot of interesting characters too. tell us about senator dirksen who you knew. >> yeah, well senator dirksen is irresistible. he was known as the wizard of ooze. he had a magnificent his diet cigarettes male ox and bourbon. he once described the rub lickating lube lickating properties and he kept a clock in his office where a lot of negotiations took place and every hour was marked five so it was always an appropriate time for a drink. the deputy attorney general told me the challenge in negotiating in the evening was to get his
agreement fons on any of the amendments because while legislative language could be redrafted once without changing its meaning to do it a second time was much harder. so that was one colorful character. >> but he comes along. >> he comes along. his interest was -- from the very beginning he said i'm for this accept for public accommodations and employment discrimination which is really the heart of the bill but his concern was he recented very deeply that he did not get more credit with black voters in illinois for having a civil rights record. he was always against the poll tax, lynching. way back in the 30s when he was a freshman member of congress. his home state of illinois already had strong anti-discrimination statutes on the books. as a good mid-western conservative, he did not want a second layer of federal
bureaucracy to go in and pester businessmen. he had a they of little changes but the big change he made was giving states that had their own effective anti-discrimination laws first crack at enforcement before the federal government would come in and the southern earns correctly surmised that this would be the affect of making the law focus almost completely on legal segregation in the south not de facto segregation like in philadelphia or chicago and also a it was a zrib ra drib raet effort to round up support. >> when we talk about grid lock and how difficult it is to get anything done in 1964 that you wrote so well about.
the process was not so pretty in 1964. >> it wasn't pretty but it wasn't so visible either. i know it sounds strange as a journalist but this story is a great testament to the uses of secrecy a lot of these negotiations happen between closed doors. because of the senate refused to consider the bill or take it seriously, they had to create a kind of ad hawk committee made up of lawyers, friendly senators, interest group who's could behind close doors hammer out a compromise. the interesting thing is several people who participated in those sessions most were in their late 20s or early 30s. the ones that were staill alive a glow comes into their eyes. people could test their assumptions and throw out a trial balloon without having to have a chart for csp a, n or
repeat the tired old talking points to satisfy the base. i think there's a lot to be said for t for the smoke-filled room. >> we should go back to reporters have to write things down. >> it's always better to see it yourself so. >> very good. i this i we're going to have some questions. so as we pull over the questions that the audience had do you want to tell the audience you were just telling me before about roger ails. >> on the occasion of the recent death of joe mcinnis. the president -- candidate nixon had a series of town halls that were taped for television and were shown on the air but ales described how the process would work which is that the audience members would fill out their question cards and come to the
team of the campaign and rewritten and passed onto nixon and answered just the questions that his staff want him to answer but they looked like they were coming from the audience. >> i might put them in a certain order but i promise not to edit them. one of the questions we have is who the civil rights act have passed if nixon had won in 1964? >> i think it probably would have because, you know, in 1957 when the civil rights act was pending on the senate floor and lbj scaled it back and dropped the provision and then promiezed on the jury trial provision, nixon was in tears and he was distraught. he was very close to clarence mitchell. he had a good regard on civil
rights. in 1960 when john kennedy famously called, nixon didn't do it because he thought it would look like a grandstand play and he didn't want to be accused of exploiting it. there's a scene of witnessing jackie robinson leave 96on's hotel suite in tears having to try to persuade him, no, it's the right thing to do. of course kennedy did the poll thing and got the credit for it. it might have made the difference in place like illinois because it flew under the radar of the white press t. was seen as a huge gesture in the black community so much so that because of kennedy's call he would vote for him.
john kennedy understood about fathers. a different kind of question. i'm so glad that one of our audience members wanted to ask you to tell us about richard russell and his role and what was his -- and also about his relationship with president johnson. >> well, richard russell was from georgia. his father had been a justice and chief justice of the supreme court. he had been a governor. he had come to washington during the new deal. he was a basic supporter of franklin roosevelts releelect riffication but he was a segregationalist and a hopeless racist. he was raised in an era where he was taught by his ancestors to believe that the civil war was a noble lost cause and that it wasn't 2:00 in the afternoon on
july three, 1963 and the confederacy might prevail. so he knew the world was changing. he knew he was fighting a losing battle. he made up his mind that he was going to fight it as hard as he could because he felt that's what he had to do for his constituen constituency. his relationship with president johnson was close. johnson had made its his business to cozy up to russell. he called him the old master. russell was a very shy and somewhat sad bachelor but the johnson family managed to entice him to a lot of sunday dinners at their house. he loved their daughters like his own. he gave one of them -- lucy when she got married he gave her an autographed copy of the gone with the wind as her wedding present. i guess the best thing you could say about him is after the fail buster was over and he lost, he
stood right up and said it's our duty to obey it. it's the law of the land. we have to comply with it and there will be no monkey businesses about trying to have action. i contrast that to -- he was not without class. >> it's so fascinating so there are three senate office buildings and one of them is named off dixon and russell. the third is named off philip hart. who was a supporter of this bill and tragically died. >> excellent. all right. let's find another good question. so this is really a follow-up to something we've been talking about but it's just so -- i know that people are thinking about it. two interesting things politicians that allow their believes to evolve and the need for bipartisanship an the question is, of course, are these dead in today's environment. you live in washington d.c.,
yes? >> you don't see many examples of it. and certainly don't see many examples of really political courage in confronting these questions or to put it another question, i mean, bill mucollec from ohio, his district was 2.7% black. he just thought it was the right thing to do. he realized his leadership of the caucus would be in jeopardy was he was seen -- imagine this. it's aprn election year. 1964 is an election year. the republican party instead of saying to johnson, your problem is you have a bunch of hate filled people in your party and you can't resolve this issue. you have large majorities in both houses but it's your own fault you can't fix it. don't blame us. we will go to the polls and see which party they like better. instead they removed civil
rights as an issue by cooperating to pass the bill. i think it would be hard to believe that their consultants and pollsters would let them do anything like that today. i think i often look at speaker boehner and your heart goes out to him pause he's a thoroughly decent guy at heart. if it were up to him he would made a bunch of deals on a lot of topics but he as he said on jay leno a leader without followers doesn't have an interest to taking a walk. >> doesn't he lose his leadership? >> he loses his leadership seat not because of civil rights narrowly defined but because they thought he was too high-handed and too willing to cooperate with the democrats without willing to consult with the party. >> an interesting story of courage but also some connection to today. >> he did in fact lose his leadership role. >> yeah. so one of the many virtues of the book is you really master of
arcane rules of the house and senate of that period. we've had a hot of talk about the filibusterer lately. can you compare and contrast on bipartisanship irk the main difference is when everyone threatened a filibusterer and in the current situation it's usually the republicans, everyone collapses that heap and gives up an says we're not even going to try to change your mind. in this case and a lot of the veteran aids whom i talked to from that era are going nuts when they watch cspan now because they say that harry reed should actually make the opponents conduct a real filibusterer and make them hold the floor and let all of their business grind to a halt and put pressure on them from the country to say what are you doing with this spectacle instead of having a kind of filibusterer like ted cruz in green eggs and ham which isn't a
filibusterer at all. the other thing i did not understand is in a filibusterer it'sibusterers who have the burden, it's the people who are trying to break the filibusterer who have the burden because at any moment somebody can call and they have to produce 51 warm bodies in real time which meant they had to set up an elaborate system of on duty rosters and people would be ready to interrupt their dinner or get out of bed and come in and be present because under the rules of the senate if it could not be mustered there are all kinds of arcane procedural thing that would kick in but it would basically reset the clock on the whole debate giving them even more time and speeches to delay the tactics. so that's partly where humphrey knew that running the senate around the clock would simply exhaust the good guys in their view and make them willing to
compromise with the southerners in a way they found no useful. but i think the huge difference is there aren't really real filibusterers anymore. there are these threatened ones and everyone gives up. >> you had a great vignette about opening day of the senators game. >> in 1964 they all went to the opening day of the baseball game. you thought for one day they could enjoy the national past time. the senator of florida noted the on sense of de core om and a close friend of tai cobb sat there watching the game because he didn't have to go back. >> another question. how many people did you interview and what types of source materials did you use in writing this book? >> i think i probably intervi interviewed something on the order of a couple of dozen
people because frankly it was a race against time and death to find some of them. >> could you mention a few? >> one of the ones i was especially proud of fighting. dirkson had a special aid named cornelious kennedy. dirkson says papers are held in illinois in a library that's defvoted to him. even the people at the library did not know whether he was dead or alive. thanks to the internet and creative searching. i found that he was in fact alive at 91 living in virginia. he suffered a series of very severe strokes which impaired his short term memory and not his long term memory. he went to have a wonderful morning with him and he was very frail but very clear-eyed of the
times another one was a wonderful guy named jon stewart who worked for humphrey. he's very much alive. still thriving. h his son is in the tennessee legislature. the final one that i found everyone remembers john lynnind as the mayor of new york. i kept seeing references to a legislative aid of his named robert kimbal. my default assumption was that the people were dead because some of them were in their 40s then so i just did a google search of robert kimbal and john lindsey. was that this was the robert kimbal better known to me as the leading historian and the executor of the complete lyrics
of everyone who is very much alive and i called them and wed the most wonderful visit. he started ou as a young civil rights loyal and wound up being this dean of musical theaters scholars. >> that's interesting. >> all because of the internet and you can track people down. >> thank you. another question. what was barry goldwaters role in opposing the bill. how did this opposition different from southern democrats. >> his opposition was really routed in the same kind of li libertarian stay out of my business philosophy which later led him to saying he had no objection to gays serving in the military. he was one of only six republicans in the senate to oppose the bill. he did so on civil liberties grounds saying the interference with private property that the public accommodations section could create a kind of national police force and a culture of
snooping and big brother and ratting people out. i think he was sincere in that. i mean, he don't think he was a racist as the final speeches were being made, the new york times recorded that dirkson looked at barry goldwater in the eye to shame him but two weeks later nominated him. it was a paradox that one of the republicans that opposed the bill became nominated that year. >> so staying in arizona, you'll see why i said that, what lesson can immigration reform advocated take away from the pass anl of the civil rights act. >> this is something i thought about a lot when i was finishing up the book and beginning to talk about it with other people. i do wonder why religious groups, the national conference of catholic bishops, and there is a big strain in that of feed of least of us kind of thing.
i wonder why they have not yet coalesced into some kind of broader more active effort at highlighting immigration as kind of a moral issue and not just an economic and political one. i think that if there would be any hope of moving members of congress on that question it would be that kind of an effort. i've been a little bit surprised that nothing like that has happened. the other thing that was both depressing and inspiring to for me about writing the book was 50 years ago we like to think of ourselves as living in a uniquely divisive and uncivil age. there's nothing in the meanest internet flame war that cover be said and there's nothing that has been said with barack obama that wasn't said in some way about john kennedy or linden johnson or the supporters of civil rights. it's kind of eerie when you go to the library and you see these people taking the trouble to sit down -- women especially in their perfect penmanship and use the n word and say these hateful
things to the president. i found a post card in the kennedy library on the night of the march on washington, that evening, there was post marked from huntington west virginia, a letter addressed john f. kennedy, care of martin luther king, the white house, washington d.c. the letter read grab the vote, you just lost mine. people would put this on paper. it's well to remember that we're not the only generation that's suffering with a lack of good manners. >> yeah. >> all right. so moving to another body that played a big role in civil rights. so there's a present question but i also invite you to talk about the supreme court in that period. the question is now that the supreme court has got the voting rights act. i'm sure you've got this question before, is the civil rights act next? >> that question has been asked to me three times in the past 36 hours. i think some advocates of civil
rights worry that the current courts emfphasis and just this morning the decision on the campaign finance case that the whole elevation of private property rights and this whole question in the hobby lobby case about religious liberty and who would be entitled to withhold service from what groups on what groupeds, i think people do worry that some of this body of law is at risk. the problem with the voting rights act comes back again to the dysfunctional of the our current politics. in that case the court had been warping congress for years that had needed to do something about addressing and updating this formula. because the congress knew that to touch it at all would be to lead to a tremendous unraveling of -- so the congress punted and got what it deserved in a way which was this rebuke from the court. i think it's interesting to hear people like congressman looseui
and people who were there on the front lines 50 years ago, i think they are very mindful that this fight is an an going one and there needs to be constant vigilance and it's wonderful that there's an african-american president but it's not the end of the journey. it's just part of the journey. >> i think the voting rights act the specific provision that was declared unconstitutional was even more aggressive in terms of its intrusion than the civil rights act not that our supreme court would find problem with the civil rights act also but they are not exactly the same. >> they are not exactly parallel. could you talk to us a little bit about if you came across any involvement of supreme court justices in this period. so obviously after the civil rights act of 1964, maybe you want to talk about that. also, i'm sure you're aware that the president and supreme court justices talked much more frequently or openly than they do now?
>> yes and played poker. >> yeah. >> the thing that you pointed ot was that by december of 1964 the court had upheld the public accommodations section, that part of the law. there's a very good piece in the current issue of the atlantic monthly about a series of books, including mine and a progressfe of law at yale. i did realize this whole situation where there was a case pe pending before the court and it involved this very question about whether the federal government could apply either the 14th amendment to preefate actors. the justice was afraid if the court decided the issue it would create another back lash akin to what happened with brown. it would take the heat off congress to pass a strong law and resolve the issue lenl la
legislatively. so he managed to get them to delay dealing with it long enough that the law was passed in the meantime and they didn't have to take action. if i misdescribed some aspect of that, i cop a plea. that's basically the outline of what happened. it's a have interesting window into the fact that the supreme court is than and now not a political institution and certainly a human institution as well. >> yeah. yeah. all right. a couple of more questions. i asked that one already. so i know you're asked this question a lot too. you bring it up in your book. it's fair game to talk about the fact that we have a black president. i was just reading today an article in the new york times there's a big debate about the president's -- president obama's statements toward african-americans an he's being criticized by some african-americans by being too
critical of african-americans. i'm not asking you to answer that question. i'm inviting you to talk about where we stand today and how writing this book has made you think differently about where we stand today having an african-american president and how our politics have changed with regard to race? >> well, i think it has been striking that with the exception of his remarkable speech during the campaign in 2008 about race which was made this this building, wasn't it. >> it was. >> he's had trouble addressing the question of race as the first black president in part because he is the first black president. i have a working theory, hard to prove that the times when he's gotten into the most trouble have been as with skip gate's case in cambridge when he criticized the police or when he said he had a son he would look like trevoron. there are the moments where he
faces an enormous back lash from the right saying how dare you say this. >> if bill clinton had said similar things he would have not have faced the same back lash. i think he has a singular burden and trends very lightly on this. it is paradoxical that by his person, he has done so much to elevate the topic but it's hard for them talk about openly. to me one of the most remarkable documents of his presidency was a young afric around american boy came into the oval office and the president leaned forward so he could touch his hair and the boy was touching hair like his. that was a picture that sent a thousand words. it is interesting though when you ask about that because in the spring of 1963 robert kennedy had a meeting with black intlikt yuellectuals in new yor
profoundly affected his thinking. he wanted to make the case that the kennedy administration was doing more than anyone had ever done and indeed, it was. they made the case back to him yeah but it's not nearly enough. if this is the best white america can do, it's pretty terrible. he tried to say to them look, look, 100 years ago my ancestors came from ireland and they were completely impoverished and now my brother is the president. there's no reason why he couldn't have a negro president in 40 years. he was wrong by five years. >> yeah. interesting. a couple of other questions. so there are a lot of other things going on in this period. one of the interesting stories that you tell is how the issues around economic policy, they get intwined but than disentangled with the civil rights issue particularly the tax law that president kennedy wants to pass.
tell us a little bit about that vignette. >> well, it's interesting. they do get -- first of all i didn't really realize until i started this research how crowded those first 2 1/2 years of the kennedy administration were. the day he made the speech proposing the bill that morning the university of alabama had been integrated by james hood and vivian malone and that four hours after the speech they was shot. lbj is juggling calls with hoover with that and members of congress about the bill. what you reference is the president's principal domestic le ledge slative priority was to get a tax cut. they thought you should not have a tax cut because you couldn't afford it. one of the people that was most against that tax cut was harry
bird of virginia who was a segregationist. so the challenge was to get support from senator bird to move the tax cut along so you could clear it out of the way because linden johnson knew if the tax bill was still pending when the debate of the civil rights bill came up they would be hopelessly entangled. the second point you made the incompleteness of the 1964 civil rights act and the part of the story that is so unfinished is the economic inequality that persists in america today. on the day he proposed the bill president kennedy sited the statistics for a black and white baby born on the same day. they involved life expectancy, access to college. on the questions of access to opportunity, equality, a lot of
blacks are infinitive better today. on the question of earning power, it's eerily the same. that part of the story is definitely unfinished. when president obama talks about the growing inequality gap, i suspect down in aft inn at the lbj library there will be plenty of speakers trying to grapple with that j of course lendon johnson did try to address those issues. maybe i'm pushing this too far but it seems -- an argument could be made that the 1964 act really was a turning point in the 60s too that we look at those two periods as distinct. >> there's the early 60s that stopped around 1964. >> yeah. >> and there was common agreement about the civil ryiigs act even though you proved there wasn't. and then we got into this other
aspect and also economic improvement that johnson is trying to create where we still have disagreements about all of those laws. >> just days after the 1965 voting rights act was passed, the watt's riots erupted. how do you address long-standing imbalances, the civil rights act was to be colorblind and race newt raxt the thinking was if you just remove the barriers, people can thrive and talent and nature will take the coriurse. of course we've seen that's not true. it's eerily poignant because it's kind of the last -- it's sort of the end of the 50s in a way. i guess the assassination is the end of the 50s but the 64 civil rights act is the last moment of real national unit on anything. after that we into territory
that's much more familiar feeling about the division that's persist. >> two questions about the people that you talked to. looking back is that how they looked at it. did you talk about this at all about your interviewers. it doesn't seem to me that they really -- >> no, i think at the time they were so focused on getting the bill passed and getting a foot in the door, i think they knew that it wouldn't finish the job and the ardent civil rights supporters knew there were another things that had to be done but that you could never go back and back slide all the way. i think it's also clear from history and humphrey says that nothing in the law should be interpreted as even allowing quotas in hiring. i think many people who supported it would not have supported if they would have
thought it would have led to affirmative action. he thought a great deal of it came from the practical hopes of members of congress that passing the bill would stop the demonstrations and stop the disorder in the streets. of course the disorder in the streets got worse. so that's part of it. but i want moved in talking to people many of whom are now, you know, have had rich, full long lives of doing other things. when they talk about this, they get a certain tone in their voice and they knew that then and they are proud now that they were living in really amazing times. >> yeah, yeah. well, so it's just wonderful that you were able to capture that. i want to thank you for this conversation and thank you for that book. i think that leaves us a little optimism that maybe this could happen again. that moment that you capture. >> well, we got through the civil war so we're still hanging in here. as dr. franklin said opt steps just across the street, the lady who supposedly asked him what have you given us. a republican if you can keep it so it's really our job to keep
it. todd is available forevery weekn primetime during congressional recesses on c-span 3. commenting on the anniversary of the signing president obama said," the civil rights act transformed the concepts of justice equality and democracy for generations to come and brought us closer to making real the declaration at the heart of our founding, that we are all created equal." now the 1964 civil rights act signing ceremony. this is a half hour. 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. 188 years ago this week, a small band of valient 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. and 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 minute man at concord to the soldiers in vietnam, 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 embedded 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 this 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 and restaurants and movie theaters and other places that provide
service to the public. i'm 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. [ applause ] 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 common sense. second, i shall appoint an advisory committee of distinguished americans to assist governor collins in his asignmen. third, i'm sending congress a request for supplemental appropriations to pay for necessary costs of implementing
the law and asking for immediate action. [ applause ] 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 through and to do it without delay and to keep me personally informed of their progress. fifth, i'm 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 lasted all 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 vistages of injustice in our beloved country. so, tonight i urge every public official, every religious leader, every business and professional man, every working man, 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.
myself? thank you. >> anybody else? >> thank you very much. >> thanks. >> thank you. >> good day. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. anybody else? did i get them all? >> mr. president just put your hand in there. that's fine. that's good, sir. thank you, kindly. just your hand, sir. that's fine. just fine, mr. president. thank you. thank you. thank you, mr. president.
congressional leaders marktd the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act with a u.s. capitol ceremony that included awarding the congressional gold medal to dr. martin luther king, jr. and his wife core letta scott king. this is a little less than an hour. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our honored guest, members of the united states house of representatives, members of the united states senate and the speaker of the united states house of representatives. ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives the honorable john boehner.
>> good afternoon and welcome to the united states capitol. [ applause ] as you can see the dome is under construction. getting some repairs and there's a technical term for that canopy but the architect said we could refor it refer to it as the doughnut. on july 2nd, 1964 congress completed the most fundamental and consequential ladies and gentlemen -- legislation of our long history. the civil rights act recognizes every citizen has the right to pursue happiness without discrimination on grounds of race, color, or national origin. this was a long time coming
because of dr. martin luther king, jr. and coretta scott king. we have with us many special guests. we're grateful for the presence of president johnson's daughter, linda johnson robb along with her husband former senator chuck robb. [ applause ] we're also pleased to have with us members of the king family. let us welcome them all. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of colors by the united states armed forces lower guard and the singing of our national anthem and the retiring of the colors.
by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪
of the united states house of representatives the reverend patrick conroy gives the invocation. >> let us pray. loving god as congress comes together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act of 1964, may the hands and hearts of this nation be raised in prayer and praise as we remember also a couple whose lives were intimately involved in those great struggles. the reverend dr. martin luther king, jr. and coretta scott king. justifiably considered the first family of the civil rights movement. may the breadth of god uphold their noble and heroic story. may it carry to all generations a message to inspire americans,
to accept the responsibility of protecting the rights and privileges promised in our founding documents for all citizens, no matter their belonging to a numerical minority in our country. may the sacrifices of martin luther and coretta and those of so many who were inspired by them, or who joined them in their struggles for justice echo now and throughout history as a call to us all to be men and women for others, especially for those whose rights are threatened. ed god, bless america. grant us peace and equal justice for all both now and into a
greater future for our nation. amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, united states representative from the 11th district of ohio and chair of the congressional black caucus the honorable fudge. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. today we commemorate one of the most significant pieces legislation in our history and honor two of the world's greatest leaders, dr. martin luther king, jr. and president lyndon b. johnson exemplify the principles on which our nation was founded. these servant leaders committed their lives to moving america closer to what it can be. due to the work of dr. king and
president johnson, i am able to stand here today as the third african-american and second woman to represent the 11th district of ohio and i greet you on behalf of the 43 members of the congressional black caucus which i'm honored to chair. the civil rights act of 1964, did more than help in the discrimination in america. the civil rights act established legal discrimination would no longer be a barrier to what one could achieve, but that achievement should be solely determined by one's ability and ambition. the civil rights act clarified the difference between all men being created equal, and all men receiving equal treatment. the constitution established one as a principle the civil rights act of '64 established the other as a practice. giving a generation of americans hope that they too could be acknowledged as full citizens of
this great nation. as president johnson signed the civil rights act of 1964 into law, he stated that america's founders knew freedom would only be secure if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning. with the civil rights act and his other great works, president johnson did his part, and to protect our freedom and with his words, activism and sacrifice dr. king did the same. today the responsibility lies with every american, especially those of us in this house. the civil rights movement and the civil rights act of 1964 established equal opportunity and equal protection under the law for every american. and together we must protect it. as dr. king said, the time is always right to do what is right. it is only right that we fulfill the promise of the civil rights
act by ensuring every american's right to vote is protected. let us pass the voting rights amendment act of 2014. [ applause ] now, please join me in reflection as we listen to president johnson's remarks as he signed the civil rights act into law. >> 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 working man, 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
to honor dr. martin luther king, jr. and his beloved wife coretta scott king. one of the most distinguished husband and wife teams of the 20th century. often history remembers speeches or facts and figures, but i cannot forget their love. from their union came an enduring strength that carried many of us through the darkest days of the movement. when they stood together, their bodies became great pillars of hope, the roof of the american house resting on their shoulders. they led a nonviolent revolution, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. mrs. king had the rare ability to tell the story of the movement through song, through
music, to travel the length and breadth of america she built dr. mar martin luther king, jr. center for change. they taught us the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. they inspired an entire generation to find a way to get in the way, to find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble. through their action their speeches and their writings, they helped create the climate for the passage of the civil rights act of 1964. and the voting rights act of 1965. and president lyndon johnson signed these two pieces of legislation into law. without the leadership of lyndon johnson, we wouldn't be where we are today and there would be no barack obama as president of the united states of america.
[ applause ] so, it is fitting and appropriate on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the civil rights act of 1964, we honor this unbelievable couple, dr. martin luther king, jr. and his beloved wife mrs. coretta scott king. they were my friend. my brother. and my sister. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the united states senator from michigan, the honorable carl levin. [ applause ] >> thank you and good afternoon, everybody. the congressional gold medal resolution that we are implementing today commemorates
the ability of an inspired couple, armed only with the righteousness of their cause to help liberate millions from oppressive racism. we also commemorate today the ability of elected officials. led by president johnson. armed only with the desire for justice to overcome the divisions of party in order to help overcome the divisions of race. in october 1960, martin luther king, jr. wrote to his beloved coretta from a georgia prison 230 miles from atlanta, a prison to which he had been hauled in irons in the middle of the night. and this is what he said. "i have the faith to believe
that this excessive suffering that's now coming to our family will in some little way serve to make america a better country." if the reverend and mrs. king could speak to us now, if our predecessors who passed the civil rights act could speak to us now, would they not challenge us to come together across lines of party and geography in a great cause. would they not encourage us, for example, to pass legislation restoring the protections of the voting rights act. [ applause ] or would they not encourage us to pass legislation reversing
the policies that leaves thousands of nonviolent young men languishing in prison. [ applause ] we can best celebrate the lives of those we honor and remember today by channelling their inspiration and to taking on the tasks before us. tasks surely far, far less daunting than the ones that they undertook. that they undertook. coming together to help lead our nation on its continuing march toward a more perfect union is the duty that they have laid before us. and finally, to martin and dexter and bernice. our nation owes a debt of gratitude to your father and mother that can never be repaid.
♪ we shall overcome, we shall be free ♪ [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the democratic leader of the united states house of representatives, the honorable nancy pelosi. >> thank you all. thank you, mr. speaker, for bringing us togethering in the rotunda. and just think of it, we're sitting between -- under the gaze of the reverend martin
luther king, jr. and abraham lincoln. they're looking at each other directly across the rotunda and here we are [ applause ] it's an honor to be here with you with senator reid, senator mcconnell and also with senator levin, our dear colleague, jon lewis, the chair of our congressional black caucus. marcia fudge and with our democratic assistant leader mr. clyburn. awfully honored that he is here as well. i want to join my colleagues in thanking the king family for sharing your mother and father with us. we are deeply in your debt. as senator levin said, this is the congressional gold medal and certainly not enough thanks but as a token of our appreciation to martin, to dexter, to bernice and to dr. king's sister christine king ferris. thank you for being with us
today. this day, of course, would not be possibly without your parents and certainly would not be possible at all without president lyndon johnson, so thank you, lynn do d.inda johns and senator robb. clab cl [ applause ] again, as we gathered n the rotunda under the gaze of president lincoln we recall the gettysburg address when the great emancipator harkened back not to the constitution but to the declaration of independence. ours was a new nation, he said, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal. that is the promise of america and in making that promise come true that was the dream of dr. martin luther king, jr. and coretta scott king. a century after the gettysburg address, a century later, dr. king stood on the steps of the lincoln memorial and called our
nation to act on those words to reassert the vision of our founding fathers. a year later, dr. king stood as an honored guest as president johnson signed the civil rights bill into law. 50 years later, here we are, the law stands as a pillar of fairness, justice, and equality and enduring testament to the sole force of dr. king and coretta scott king. the civil rights act transformed our country. it made america more american. in 1959, the kings traveled to india, mr. lewis referenced non-violence. they traveled to india to study mahatma gandhi's principles of non-violence so they could apply it to the civil rights struggle here at home. actually, the indians and the kings learned from each other. it's interesting to note that in
sanskrit the word for "non-violence" that same word that means non-violence and also "insistence on the truth." insistence on the truth. [ applause ] they knew it would mean sacrifice and struggle for their family and for many across the country. and for the kings that they would insist on the truth at the heart of our nation that all men and women are created equal. dr. king was not only non-violent in his actions but non-violent in his words. that was the source of great strength to him and coretta and to the movement. when the civil rights act was passed, we would never have dreamed -- some of you weren't born, for the rest of us it was our youth -- right, steny? [ laughter ] we would never dream v dreamed
that on this 50th anniversary we would look out on the mall and there would be a monument, a memorial, to the reverend martin luther king as a neighbor to the lincoln memorial. [ applause ] and referencing what, again, mr. lewis said, and what would president lincoln think? and what would reverend king think that on that day when that martin luther king memorial was dedicated it was dedicated by president barack obama. [ applause ] all of this progress was made possible because of dr. king's insistence on the truth. and that insistence on the truth stirred the leadership of president kennedy and the legislative virtuosity and leadership of president lyndon
johnson. and because -- and, of course, because of the courage of civil rights activists across the country and including this week we mourn james cheney, michael swerner and andrew goodman. they and so many others made this possible. at the time, i'll acknowledge that the civil rights act was incomplete without the voting rights act. president johnson and dr. king would press for the voting rights act's passage in the next congress. it was only a matter of months later. and today those twin triumphs of civil rights stand among the greatest legislative accomplishments of our country [ applause ] and so as we bestow the medal on dr. martin luther king and coretta scott king we must insist on the truth. and this truth is to truly celebrate the 50th anniversary
of the civil rights act. thank you all [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the republican leader of the united states senate, the honorable mitch mcconnell. [ applause ] >> america, as we know, is the land of promise and opportunity. it's a conviction that unites all of us americans and one we repeat quite often. but for too long in this country that wasn't the case for a large segment of our population. and for nearly a century after the end of the civil war millions of african-americans
continue to be consistently denied the most basic a cancer of intolerance and injustice was allowed to metastasize while many with the power to top it wasn't looking. or didn't want to. . a pastor with a booming voice and a potent message helped change all of that. pu through the power of his words and the force of his example dr. martin luther king, jr. made those who may have wanted to look away focus on what he once called the long night of racial injustice. he inspired a generation of young people to action and he confronted the defenders of segregation head on.
not with violence but reason, argument and an uncavering confidence in the justness of his cause. dr. king knew that his role was not just to expose or to confront injustice, but to prepare the country to actually do something about it. and by the time the civil rights act of 1964 passed, the country was ready. thanks to him and the countless many who took up his cause convinced as he once put it, that civilization and violence are antithetical. dr. king and his followers may have had to brave jail cells and fire hoses and, in the case of dr. king, paid the ultimate price. but the sacrifice was never in vain change came, because when
dr. martin luther king, jr. led marches, people noticed. they listen and washington acted. without the mighty strength of this man convinced of the rightness of his cause, speaking truths for which he and those who loved him paid so dearly the course of our nation's history would have been less just. so dr. martin luther king deserves as much credit as any president or senator for the passage of the landmark legislation we commemorate today. but it's also fitting today to recognize those others who worked so hard to make the civil rights act possible. . presidents kennedy and johnson and many senators whose essential role in this fight is sometimes overlooked. every time i walk into my office i'm reminded of the heroic role of one of my predecessors as
republican leader everett dirkson played in this great effort. [ applause ] and his famous words when the votes were secured for passage stronger than all the armies, he said, referring to victor hugo, is an idea whose time has come. and the time has come for equality of opportunity and sharing and government in education and in employment and it will not be stayed or denied. it is here, he said. [ applause ] near that portrait of dirksen
hangs my portrait of a role model of a young man. john sherman cooper kentucky. he worked tirelessly to not let the civil rights act be derailed. those in the segregationist camp tried to hold up the bill but dirksen and other democratic allies, many like hubert humphrey and mike mansfield finally prevailed. i can watching senator cooper round up the necessary votes. it was a powerful lesson in how determined many and women can use the senate to achieve our founding purpose. at important moments in our his tri senate has served an outsized role in leading us toward the more perfect union we
desire. i believe the senate can be that place again and that it must if we're to stay true to the vision of the man we honor today. and it's true that politicians sometimes need leaders like martin luther king to help focus their attention first. so we thank you, members of the king family, for giving us this opportunity to thank dr. king and you for that work and that legacy and for the idea that inspired him which we all renew today. may we all continue to draw inspiration from the vision and the memory of this great man. and from the leaders who helped to translate that vision into law. thank you. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the
majority leader of the united states senate, the honorable harry reid. [ applause ] >> today, of course, we gather to celebrate the 509 anniversary of the civil rights act of 1964. for people in this historic building, there are people who fought to overcome in obstacles in passing this historic legislation. as we've learned, certainly it was a team effort. speakers to previous my speaking today have indicated that, and that certainly is the case. in the senate, majority leader mike mansfield and his floor manager hubert humphrey crossed party lines with republican
leader everett dirksen and republican whip thomas to overcome every attempt to repeal this bill. and house of representatives, democrat emmanuel seller and republican charles hall lech proved that equality need not be a partisan issue. they rallied their parties to support the civil rights act. and the legislation has support for the white house. it was first championed by john kennedy and pushed across the finish line by president lyndon johnson. linda, i think it would be appropriate for you to stand and be recognized as lyndon johnson's daughter. [ applause ]
so we all thank those named and unnamed to helped craft and pass the civil rights act. it was difficult, as i said before, it was a team effort. they refused to let inequality continue to n our great nation. but the battle against racism in america wasn't only waged here in washington, d.c. the battle for civil rights was fought on bus rides through south carolina, mississippi, and even on the edmund pettus bridge in selma, alabama. one of those who fought for equality we've already heard from -- congressman john lewis. while still a teenager he worked alongside dr. martin luther king, jr. he soon became one of the principal leaders of the civil rights movement. when i they jon lewis and others fought for equality, let's look at specifically jon louis.
hoz body bears the scars of the vicious attacks perpetrated by racists. he was beaten for entering a whites only waiting room. his bus was firebombed by the ku klux klan and later on this same trip he was beaten by an angry mob, his head smashed with a wooden crate and those were just a handful of examples of the struggle that people went through. but three years ago i stood next to john lewis as we reenacted through him the selma march. she shared with us what happened on that bridge that day and told us that what happened on that day, with the police beating him and others, he, of course, that day suffered a fractured skull and nearly died.
but even in the face of such violence, john lewis never wavered from dr. king's revolution of non-violence. and he never stopped fighting for freedom and he still hasn't stopped. [ applause ] he coordinated the mississippi freedom summit, a campaign to register black voters in the state of mississippi. he rallied young men and women, predominately college students, to mississippi. those volunteers were arrested, beaten and murdered, some of them were but still the movement did not stop, it kept moving. i was here in washington, d.c. working and going to school when dr. king delivered his "i have a dream" speech. i, along with the rest of america, was moved by his words
and are still moved every time we hear that speech again and watch it again. but just a year later after he gave that speech i was back in nevada in my home. i was in a las vegas convention center where dr. king spoke. i'll never forget how he urged that relatively small crowd there that evening, people of all backgrounds, to "learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools." and, of course, i am none of us ever will forget how dr. king gave his life for the cause of equality. so for those who fought for equality, for civil rights, congressman lewis, dr. king and countless others, the scars borne and the lives sacrificed and the price paid for freedom and equality, it's because of their sacrifice that we today, we honor, we commemorate the
civil rights act of 1964. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the honorable john boehner. [ applause ] >> in the fanfare of history, it's easy to overlook the small moments that make big things possible. so let's go back to july 2, 1963 and to somewhere far from these halls. let's go to pickwell, ohio. never been. small pleasant town in west central ohio, in my congressional district. it's not far from dayton where the wright brothers got their start. flying into dayton that day was
a man named burke marshall. the assistant attorney general of the united states. he was picked up by the son-in-law of the congressman that he needed to see, william mccullough, the top republican on the house judiciary committee. now, mccullough was a farm kid who went to a one-room schoolhouse but he was also a world war ii vet with a law degree from ohio state. the white house would try to rush him into something and he'd say "hold on, hold on, i'm just a country guy who's got to muddle along a little." but without him president kennedy had said, the bill can't be done. so marshall's there on this urgent business, he's expected to meet mccullough straight away. unfortunately, the son-in-law says the congressman is busy speaking to the pickler botarians. so they go for a long lunch and
take a scenic tour of the miami valley. they get into town, mccullough is still with the rotarians. well, the meeting finally started and he looks at the assistant attorney general and says "i'm going to tell you two things -- i'll support this bill as long as the senate -- you commit that the senate not weaken this bill." i kind of like the sound of that myself. [ laughter ] and, two, that the credit for moving this bill is shared between both parties. i like that sound of that as well. [ applause ] and so the deal was struck. and a year later when the final vote neared, the house paused for a standing ovation for
william moore mccullough. you know, there is no indispensable man, but there is a common man, the one who makes no distinction between the assistant attorney general and the local rotarian. he doesn't use his status for personal gain, he uses it to serve others. for him, the biggest thing is the right thing. it isn't a household name and it doesn't have to be. you can find him right there not in the fanfare but in the fabric of history. my slope that this gold medal ceremony today serves to honor dr. king and all who set out to answer what he called the most urgent question. what what are you doing for others? [ applause
[ applause ] [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, founding director of the national smithsonian museum of african-american history and culture, mr. lonnie g. bunch, iii. [ applause ] good afternoon. the national museum of african-american history and culture on behalf of the smithsonian institution is humbled and honored to help preserve the legacy of martin
luther king, jr., and coretta scott king by accepting into our care the congressional gold medal. there is little that i can add to the well-deserved accolades that have already been spoken except maybe to offer my thanks on behalf of those of us who were too young to participate actively in the civil rights movement but who were the beneficiaries of the leadership and the courage of dr. and mrs. king. as a result of their marches in selma and birmingham and chicago, generations of african-american have had the opportunity to march but march in their university graduations. [ applause ] clap as a result of their sacrifices and their commitment to and fairer america, many of just experienced possibilities
once unimagined. thanks to dr. and mrs. king, our lives and our opportunities were transformed and america was made better. there really is nothing more powerful than a people, than a nation that is steeped in its history and there are few things as noble as honoring all of our ancestors by remembering. with the acquisition of this medal, the smithsonian will ensure that as long as there's an america, the courage, the impact, and the legacy of martin luther king, jr. and coretta scott king will be honored, preserved and remembered. thank you very much [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand as the chaplain of the united states senate dr. barry
black gives the benediction. >> let us pray. gracious god, you created us to live in harmony. thank you for this opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1964 civil rights act and to posthumously award the congressional gold medal to two drum majors for justice and freedom, dr. martin luther king, jr., and coretta scott king. empower us to work as did martin and coretta to build a beloved community where the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind will
become a reality. in the spirit of martin and coretta, stir us to resist oppression with transformative love. in the spirit of martin and coretta, inspire us to continue our commitment to non-violence, direct action in the spirit of martin and coretta make us your active disciples who join you in your work of bringing deliverance to captives. restore us to our best selves with new strength and a hopeful faith hastening the day when all of your children can join hands and sing in the words of the
negro spiritual "free at last, free at last, thank god all mighty we're free at last." we pray in your sovereign name. amen. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain at your seats for the departure of the official party and until your row is invited to depart by a visitor services representative. thank you. >> up next, senate historian don richie discusses the congressional debate and