Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1957, there hadn't been a federal civil rights law since Reconstruction in 1875. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina wanted to keep it that way, filibustering for over 24 hours to delay passage of the bill, which established the Commission on Civil Rights . The bill passed anyway. Thurmond's filibuster record, however, still stands, as does the senator. At 96, he is the oldest person ever to serve in Congress. The same front page that reported Thurmond's filibuster record also noted the cancellation of a Fats Domino concert because of "security concerns." An excerpt from The Post of Aug. 30, 1957:
By Edward T. Folliard
Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) had talked for 24 hours and then some -- longer than any man in the 168-year-old history of Congress.
The small hand on the great clock over his head had made two revolutions, and a stubble of gray beard had sprouted on his chin as he talked on and on against the 1957 civil-rights bill. He said it was unconstitutional, bad, a measure that should never have been introduced.
"There are a million objections to HR 6127 (the civil rights bill)," he said.
He had gone a long way toward listing the whole million.
Finally, just before yielding the floor, Sen. Thurmond thought he had better make the purpose of his filibuster clear.
"I expect to vote against this bill," he said.
A great roar of laughter exploded in the Senate chamber. It came from the Senator's colleagues, from the galleries, and from House members who had come over to see the show.
When Thurmond brought his talkathon to an end shortly thereafter, he had held the floor 24 hours and 18 minutes, far and away a record. He had started at 8:45 o'clock Wednesday evening; it was now 9:12 p.m. on the next day.
The old record was 22 hours and 26 minutes. It was established April 24-25, 1953 by Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.), in a filibuster against the tidelands oil bill.
Except that it made him something of a hero in South Carolina and elsewhere in the South, Sen. Thurmond's marathon effort achieved nothing. He changed no Senator's views on the civil rights bill, and didn't expect to. The Senate, after listening to a few more speeches, approved the bill and sent it on to the White House for President Eisenhower's signature.