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

The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of I964

Headlines" began, "Dirksen gains new stature on rights bill,' then said
the senator's support of the measure was winning bipartisan admirers."
On the other side of the issue was Lawrence, who couldn't bring himself
to write the words "civil rights" without putting them in quotation marks
each time he used them. On May 26 Lawrence predicted the defeat of
senators who voted for it, and that the Democrats would lose control of
the House in November." The lead story with the largest headline in the
Marshall News Messenger on July 3, 1964, read, "Rights Law Gets
Immediate Tests." The CORE barbershop incident in Kansas City was
part of a lengthy Associated Press story, but the name of the Marshallite
who got the shave and haircut was not mentioned.
The first lady was not ready to concede the South to Goldwater, a pre-
diction Johnson had made to Moyers the night the bill was signed. The
president told Moyers that he, Johnson, had just delivered the South to
the Republicans.73 Mrs. Johnson had Moyers and her press secretary, Liz
Carpenter, plan a whistle-stop tour for her through the South. It was
done in October, and Mrs. Johnson made it clear that though she was
born and raised a southerner, she supported all the provisions of the
1964 Civil Rights Act.74 Her train, loaded with the press and as many
southern politicians as would make appearances with her, left the sta-
tion in Virginia on October 6 and ended four days and forty-seven stops
later in New Orleans-coincidently about the same route as the
Freedom Rides some three years before. At each stop Mrs. Johnson's
speech usually included, "We are a nation of laws, not men, and our
greatness is our ability to adjust to the national consensus. The law to
assure equal rights passed by Congress last July with three-fourths of the
Republicans joining two-thirds of the Democrats, has been received by
the South for the most part in a way that is a great credit to local leader-
ship. . . . This convinces me of something I have always believed-that
there is, in this Southland, more love than hate.""7
Columnist Lawrence was wrong, of course. Johnson won the 1964
election by one of the largest electoral college votes on record, and
Democrats kept control of both houses of Congress, in fact, Democrats
gained forty-seven seats in the house. Perhaps through the first lady's
efforts, the South was at the least neutralized; four states voted
7' Marshall News Messenger, May 21, 1964, editorial page.
72 Marshall News Messenger, May 25, 1964, editorial page.
7 Moyers to Bell, Aug. 10, 1997, interview. Johnson's statement to Moyers, made that night in
the White House bathroom, is often quoted.
71 Moyers, for example, encouraged her to go to Huntsville, Alabama, "to show the country we
have scientists in the South." White House telephone log, Mar. 10o, 1964, telephone tape 2446
3/10/64 11:55 a.m. WH6403.o7, PNO 1o (LBJ Library).
71 Carpenter, Ruffles and Flourishes, 142.

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 July 7, 2015.