June 2, 2010

Little_Rock_Desegregation_1957_5ac91.jpg
(The Civil Rights Bill of 1957 - a lot of love in the room . . .)


There's been a lot of talk lately about the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, forgetting that it got started as the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 and an offshoot of the Supreme Court ruling on School Desegregation in 1954. The ball was rolling and so was the resistance. Only in 1957 the resistance was more overt, as is evidenced by this discussion, part of The American Forum of The Air as broadcast on July 7, 1957. The debaters were Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.) and Sen. Arthur V. Hawkins (R-Utah) who co-authored the 1957 bill.

Sen. John Stennis: “I have no doubt about it, this bill is aimed primarily at the South. It’s inspired by those that have been wanting to get this enacted into law with affect of criminal statutes. And even though voting rights are involved some it’s directed primarily to the school problem, the intermingling of the races in the schools.”

Stennis was, needless to say, part of that breed of Southern Democrat known as the Dixiecrat (a cousin to the Blue Dog of today). It's interesting to note that the co-author of the bill, a landmark piece of legislation, was a Republican and part of that extinct breed known as the Moderate Republican.

I am really starting to wonder just how our current Republican Party views their party circa 1957. Would people like Hawkins be condemned or ridiculed? With so many Teabaggers voicing rejection of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, would that mean every piece of progressive legislation authored by a Republican in history be viewed as some neo-Socialist sleight of hand?

Is this what they mean by re-writing history?

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