Newstalgia Reference Room with a Meet The Press episode featuring newly appointed Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach discussing, among other topics, the Civil Rights Bill.
November 28, 2011

Nicholas Katzenbach (hand over mouth) and friend. Defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

Nicholas Katzenbach became something of an "Eyewitness to History" in the 1960's. First as Assistant Attorney General to Robert Kennedy, participated in the pivotal "confrontation at the Schoolhouse door" moment with George Wallace in 1963 and later, as Attorney General, enforcing the newly signed Civil Rights Legislation of 1964. No walk in the park, to be sure.

During this episode of Meet the Press, from April 11, 1965, Katzenbach is grilled on his stance with regards to Civil Disobedience and protest of unjust laws.

Nicholas Katzenbach: “In history and history of Philosophy the argument about not obeying the unjust law was almost always an argument against absolute power on the part of the governing body.”

Katzenbach had helped draft the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. Although he frequently clashed with J.Edgar Hoover on matters of domestic surveillance and objections to Hoover's unauthorized use of wiretaps including those of Martin Luther King.

Eventually, the war with Hoover proved to be too exasperating and Katzenbach resigned in 1966 and went into the private sector in 1969. Still, he was around when a lot of defining moments were happening and this interview gives some idea of who was Attorney General in 1965.

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