The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of z964

present. She recorded in her diary that when asked by the press about
her feelings on that July day she thought about 1957 and the thirty-
seven days and nights Lyndon had spent working on that civil rights bill,
days when she brought him hot meals and clean clothes and he slept on
a cot in the Senate cloakroom. "So this was just another step in a chain
of steps," she said. "I left the East Room feeling that I had seen the
beginning of something in this nation's history fraught with untold
good-much pain and trouble." Earlier that afternoon, she and the
president celebrated daughter Luci's seventeenth birthday in the private
quarters of the White House.66 Her favorite lemon cake was baked by
Mrs. Wright.
Farmer, presiding over CORE's national convention in Kansas City,
was the only major civil rights leader not in attendance at the signing.67
However, Farmer and Moyers each played a role in the final chapter.
Moyers wrote Johnson's widely-reprinted speech delivered after the pres-
ident used seventy-two ceremonial pens to sign the Civil Rights Act of
1964 into law. Among the one thousand words that emerged from
Moyers' pen were these:
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 that the only limit to a man's hope for hap-
piness and for the future of his children shall be his own ability. . . . It does say
that those who are equal before God shall now be also equal in the polling
booths, in the classrooms, in the factories and in the hotels and restaurants and
movie theaters and in other places that provide services to the public. ... My fel-
low citizens, we have come 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 to this nation by the just and wise God who is the
Father of us all."8
Farmer, in Kansas City on July 2, vowed to be the first to test the law
with what he called, "a civil rights haircut." Shortly after Johnson
signed the bill into law, some of the delegates went down to the bar-
bershop at the Muehlebach Hotel, site of the convention. That night,
Harrison County and therefore Marshall, voted against, along with the majority of the Texas del-
egation, all Democrats.
6"Johnson, Whte HouseDary, 174.
"7 Farmer said he could not have afforded to miss the CORE convention "because I knew I
had enemies" among the delegates. The year 1964 was at the beginning of the rise of the "Black
Power" movement, of which Farmer wanted no part, and from which he tried to protect CORE.
Farmer to Beil, Aug. 16, 1998, mterview.
" New York Times and Dallas Morning News, July 3, 1964, front page, both papers.

2002

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed August 1, 2015.