Todd Purdum is the author of the book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On today's show, we're going to talk about the legislative and political battle to get the Civil Rights Bill passed.
So in a very important way, this law, which is often called the most important law of the 20th century, created the world we live in today. GROSS: What were some of the actions of the civil rights movement that were most effective in pushing President Kennedy to move forward with civil rights legislation? PURDUM: Well, beginning early in his administration with the sit-ins at lunch counters around the South, then the freedom rights to integrate interstate transportation of buses and so forth, and finally the most dramatic of all was in the spring of 1963, under the leadership of Dr. And these images went all over national television, all over the world media, the front pages of newspapers all around the world. And that was - I think most people agree that was the thing that really got the ball rolling on the legislation. GROSS: But President Kennedy had serious reservations about pushing civil rights legislation during what he thought would be his first term. Well, in that era, we must remember the Congress, and particularly the Senate, was completely controlled by the Southern delegations, who were adamantly opposed to integration. And I think they were persuaded in many senses that this would be a practical way to calm the situation down. GROSS: So when the bill is in its early stages, the March on Washington happens, and in the planning stages, President Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, who was the attorney general, were very worried about the march. So what they ended up doing was co-opting the march and essentially taking over the part of the organization that involved government entities and the police and the military and so forth; and making sure that it could be efficiently and effectively run as possible and that it would be a success. And I think at the end of the day, you know, President Kennedy greeted the marchers and Dr.
PURDUM: Absolutely, they - particularly now Congressman John Lewis of Georgia was then a young activist for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and he had a speech draft that included words like revolution and radical and masses. Well, this was too much for the Catholic archbishop of Washington, who had agreed to deliver the invocation, and he said that if Lewis used those kinds of words, he'd get up and leave the platform. And in the end of the day, he still made an incredibly beautiful, forceful speech in which he said we will not stop.
The sixth would prohibit discrimination in federally assisted programs in states and localities and allow the federal government to cut off money to, say, school districts or municipalities that discriminated. But that was controversial because it didn't include the real teeth that some of the most ardent civil rights supporters wanted.
PURDUM: The bill that finally passed had virtually all those elements, and virtually all of them, in one way or another, were strengthened. So the miracle is that the pattern had been, with most civil rights laws up to that point, they either failed completely or got watered down during their march to passage. So how were the Kennedys affected by this information that they were getting from Hoover, which wasn't even true because although Levison, you write, had been like sympathetic to or affiliated with the Communist Party, he was no longer?
So the effect it had was this warning about communism - remember at the height of the Cold War, at the height of, you know, just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis - this made the Kennedys so nervous that if Martin Luther King, you know, could be seen as having anything like communist associations, that if they were too closely associated with him, it could hurt them terribly in the public eye.
So it really drove a lot of their dealings with him, and it drove their keeping him at arm's length.
So whenever Hoover asked for authority to wiretap King or - Bobby Kennedy did not immediately grant it, but when Hoover asked for authority to conduct surveillance on the civil rights movement, generally speaking the Kennedy administration gave him that permission because they felt that if they did not, he would leak damaging information about Martin Luther King and the movement to the public, which would make it, you know, much, much harder to get any progress. Of course the other side of that coin is if the civil rights workers themselves, if King and the movement had known the degree to which the Kennedy administration was complicit in this bugging, the Kennedys would have lost all credibility with the pro-civil rights movement and would have, you know, it would have been an absolute political disaster for them.
GROSS: What were reactions within the civil rights movement to the civil rights bill that was working its way through Congress? The fear of the Kennedys was that if it got too many elements in it, if it was made too strong, it wouldn't be able to pass the House, the whole House, much less pass the Senate. So President Kennedy in that fall, that October of 1963, had to really undertake a delicate dance to make the bill strong enough to please the civil rights groups or at least to be acceptable to them while not having so many elements in it that it would be immediately shot down in Congress. GROSS: What was the status of the civil rights bill when President Kennedy was assassinated? PURDUM: It had passed the House Judiciary Committee by a whisker kind of a way, with President Kennedy's help, in the end of October. The House is so big, with 435 members, that it can't have unlimited debate the way the Senate does. And the chairman of that committee was an 80-year-old man from Virginia named Howard Smith, who was an infamous segregationist and infamous conservative Democrat, whose favorite way of blocking a bill was simply to retreat to his farm in Fauquier County, Virginia and take no action at all. GROSS: So after Kennedy's assassination, when Johnson becomes president, Johnson pledges to make civil rights a priority, to make passage of the bill a priority. PURDUM: He had been careful to advise him that if he moved forward with it, he should first get the rest of his legislative program in line. But the interesting thing is that while he had a reputation among civil rights groups, particularly because of his work as Senate majority leader in the 1957 and 1960 civil rights bills, he had a reputation of watering down such legislation in order to get it passed. By 1963 he had actually become a very strong supporter of civil rights, and that spring he had made a series of speeches that went way beyond anything the president had said to that point and that in fact discomfited the White House and the attorney general because he was so outspoken. So what happened in the wake of the assassination was that Johnson realized he could not do anything else that he cared about in his presidency if he didn't establish his bona fides, his undisputed credentials on civil rights.
GROSS: So when Johnson becomes president, the civil rights bill is still stuck in the Rules Committee. PURDUM: There were a number of strategies, but one of the strategies that he chose to pursue was to put pressure on Chairman Smith by circulating what's known as a discharge petition, in which if a majority of the members of the House, that would be 218, wanted to call a bill out of the committee and put it directly on the House floor, it could happen.
It was a very rare procedure, almost never happened, and most people in the leadership of Congress did not like it because it usurped the prerogatives of chairmen, it bypassed the normal procedures. But what happened was that because word got out that Johnson was considering this possibility and was rounding up support for it, there was another mechanism in which members of the Rules Committee itself could force the chairman to hold hearings and take a vote, and that's what happened because of the pressure that Johnson began applying. PURDUM: Absolutely, absolutely, although it must be said that he had to be careful not to push too hard because if he had pushed too hard, there would've been a backlash against him.

GROSS: So once the civil rights bill gets out of the Rules Committee and onto the House floor, the concern of the advocates of this bill was that it would be watered down by segregationists who would add amendment after amendment, making the bill weaker.
PURDUM: Well, it was a kind of a wonderful scene because the House debated bills like that in those days in what was known as the Committee of the Whole, so that members would not have to take recorded votes on amendments.
And to do that, the pro-civil rights forces had to set up a system in the galleries of the House, kind of an early version of a human beeper system, in which they sent young people around to the hallways of the House office buildings whenever a vote was getting ready to happen and make sure that they could round up friendly members and bring them to the floor so that they could defend the bill. And this effort was led by a young woman from the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers named Jane O'Grady(ph). GROSS: So one of the big changes to the Civil Rights Act that happened in the House was that women were added as a protected class in the bill.
PURDUM: Yes, that was the work of Chairman Smith of the Rules Committee, who thought that by including sex as a protected category, it would be a poison pill, and he could doom the bill because his male chauvinist colleagues would not want to gum up a civil rights bill with protecting the fairer sex. PURDUM: He was a rock-ribbed Republican from a conservative district in West Central, Ohio.
So by 1963, he was the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and he believed that the time had come for a big comprehensive bill.
And he had a population, Terry, in his district, a black population, of less than three percent. This guide on employee motivation covers all traditional motivation theories to the present-day best practices. Getting started without knowing the basics is never fruitful, so here are a couple of articles that will give you a quick run through the basic concepts of some of the widely used motivation theories.
John Thomas North (pictured), originally a Yorkshire mechanic, became a friend of the future King George V and was worth $10 million in 1889?
King George V of the United Kingdom was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George"? 19 crewmen of the Russian oceanliner SS Czar received the Silver Sea Gallantry Medal from King George V of the United Kingdom for rescuing 102 survivors from a burning ship in October 1913? This year marks the 50th anniversary of that landmark legislation, which, among other things, outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, including restaurants, hotels and motels, and ended the era of legal segregation in those places. What would you describe as the biggest changes that were brought about by the Civil Rights Act?
It's hard to remember that just 50 years ago they were anything but taken for granted, and people were literally fighting and dying for them. Martin Luther King and others of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Birmingham, the demonstrations, particularly those involving children and young people who were brutally turned back by police dogs and fire hoses, high-pressure hoses, 100 pounds per square inch of water knocking them to the ground, tearing off their clothing. And it shocked President Kennedy, and it shocked the country, and frankly it shocked a large segment of the American population who did not live in the South, who did not have large black populations in their states or areas, and it pricked the conscience of really right-thinking people all over the world. He thought he might serve a second and that the bill would be better served in his second term. He didn't want to jeopardize any of those other programs, many of which were, you know, liberal in their intent, by giving the Southerners an excuse to fight him on civil rights. He and his brother, the attorney general, Robert Kennedy, realized that the only way they had a chance, they felt, of stopping these demonstrations that were sweeping across the country and prompting violent backlash from both Southern officialdom and average citizens in the South particularly, was to propose a new law that would end the discrimination, that would end the cause of the unrest. Nicholas Katzenbach, who was the deputy attorney general at the time, told me shortly before he died that he did believe that part of the impulse among members of Congress for passing the law was not necessarily highly idealistic but was in some ways practical, to kind of calm the waters and put an end to these demonstrations, which of course continued all throughout the '60s and in some ways, you know, spiraled out of control later on in the decade into riots.
That was their nightmare, that somehow there could be scenes of violence playing out on the streets of Washington. Once they failed in their effort to sort of postpone it or block it, they determined that it should be a big success, which of course it was.
And he attacked the Civil Rights Bill as too little too late and said that his organization couldn't support it. So behind the scenes of the Lincoln Memorial, behind the statue of Lincoln, older civil rights leaders, including Philip Randolph, persuaded John Lewis to tone his rhetoric down. If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. The first would have enforced the right to vote in federal elections, and it would regardless of race.
The fourth would establish a community relations service to help individuals and communities in resolving racial disputes in their own localities.
And the seventh would create an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission to address discrimination by government contractors. It didn't include a real regulatory scheme to let that commission sanction private businesses and so forth and so on. Particularly in the end there was an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with greater teeth, and in the end the compromise involved letting disputes be heard in federal courts so that both sides could have their say, but there were more teeth in the measure than in the initial one. Edgar Hoover, then the head of the FBI, is bugging Martin Luther King's advisor and friend Stanley David Levison. Edgar Hoover never told the administration is that by this time the FBI had evidence that Levison had completely stopped his financial support for the Communist Party of the United States and instead had transferred his efforts to Martin Luther King's own crusade. The civil rights movement from the, you know, Depression on did get help from leftist American movements at a time when it wasn't getting help from mainstream groups elsewhere in the country. And you write letting Hoover build his file on King was the price the Kennedys paid for protecting the president's political future and the civil rights bill's prospects. Edgar Hoover knew a lot of things about the president's own personal life and his sexual indiscretions dating back to World War II when he was dating a young woman that Hoover thought was possibly a German spy.
When it was first proposed, I would say the most ardent civil rights advocates felt it was too little too late, sort of half a loaf, it was not strong enough. And it was hung up in the House Rules Committee, which as we know is the committee that sets the ground rules, the guidelines for debate of a bill on the House floor.
And that's really where things stood on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. So he vowed to finish the job that Kennedy had started and to make it his absolutely top priority.

And in those days Washington was much, much more traditional in terms of seniority and procedures in Congress, and it was just something that nobody was very much in favor of.
So he had to be very subtle in terms of he would call outside allies, liberal labor groups and others, asking them to do this kind of lobbying. And so what was that fight like between the House members who opposed the bill and those who supported the bill? And the challenge therefore was to keep hostile forces, keep the segregationists, from loading the bill up with amendments that would weaken it.
And in fact the women in Congress immediately rose up, of both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and said for Pete's sake, we need this. It then became one of the most important parts of employment discrimination law in the 20th century, and it all happened because, in a sense, of the maliciousness of Chairman Smith, who wanted to block the bill. But he didn't want to have happen what usually had happened, which is to have the House pass a strong bill and see it watered down and frittered away in the Senate. But he just believed that this was the right thing to do and he stuck by his guns all through the debate and he carried along with him the entire House Republican leadership simply because of his stature as the ranking member on the committee and because of his strong passion - and reasonableness - on the question. Let's talk about what happened to the civil rights bill as it made its way through the Senator.
Then look no further, as right here we have an organized collection of tips and strategies that will guide and assist you in motivating your employees. Motivation promotes productivity and increases employee retention, making it a top priority for most managers.
Instead of mere explanations of the theories, the information presented here is more inclined to help you make practical use of their concepts. Today is the 46th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He wanted support for his foreign policy, for things like the space race, for other programs of, you know, income redistribution and, you know, help for poor people and so forth.
So while he personally was appalled, I think, by segregation and was - also felt it gave America a very big black eye in the Cold War, he was horrified at the exploitation that the Soviets were able to make of the situation here at home, he was very cautious about moving too quickly. The second was the one you mentioned: it would outlaw discrimination at hotels, motels, restaurants, and it would exempt private clubs without precisely defining them. And the fifth would extend the life of the Civil Rights Commission, which had been created originally by the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first real law since Reconstruction to try to get at this question. The book is called "An Idea Whose Time Has Come." Let's take a short break, then we'll talk some more. Edgar Hoover was giving them misinformation on purpose because he was so offended by King and so offended by King's crusade for racial equality, and also because he was so paranoid about any potential communist affiliation.
So it wouldn't have been disqualifying in Martin Luther King's eyes to take support from leftist liberal groups because they were the ones who were going to help. So the Kennedys knew that Hoover had a voluminous file on JFK and might try to use it against him.
Their liberal allies had made their bill stronger, but the Republicans, whose support they absolutely needed to pass it, were warning that this would doom it to failure, first in the House and then in the Senate. So every bill that comes to the House has a tightly proscripted pattern of debate and rules for how many minutes and so forth are set to do it. But didn't Johnson advise Kennedy not to move forward with the Civil Rights Bill in his first term? He should first get some of these other priorities taken care of so they would not be then held hostage to civil rights.
And her group became quickly known as O'Grady's Raiders, and they would go around from office to office rounding up members. And he was against government spending, against foreign aid, all the things we think of as being conservative.
So McCulloch told the Kennedy administration that he would take the lead in supporting the bill in the House if the administration would promise to stick by that bill in the Senate, not see it watered down by a bunch of weakening amendments and, moreover, would be willing to give the Republicans credit for helping to pass it. And this guide is all set to gear you up with practical and exciting ways to improve employees' motivation by lifting their morale, increasing their satisfaction and offering them a better job experience.
He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about the legislative and political battle to get the civil rights bill passed. That was four years after one of the greatest accomplishments of the civil rights movement, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
For the Kennedys, they wanted a peaceful day that demonstrated the bipartisan, biracial, interracial, interfaith nature of the movement, and as these images were broadcast on television and in film, in newsreels around the world, the message that it sent was there was tremendous unification, unity, harmony behind the goal of bringing justice in the law to black and white America. And the Kennedys were already a little concerned, probably because of Hoover, that the civil rights movement was under the sway of communism. And by the second or third day the members were so aware that they were doing this, they said come on, come on, I'm on my way, don't worry about it. But he was also the descendant of pre-Civil War abolitionists and he'd always been a strong supporter of civil rights.
So in a strange way, this one congressman from Ohio drove the whole train and ultimately set up the strategy that would force the administration - and later, the Johnson administration - to try to break the filibuster in the Senate, which was something that had never been successfully done on a civil rights bill. A manager may have to exercise a range of techniques to maintain a desired level of motivation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of that bill, now known as the Civil Rights Act. They didn't want otherwise persuadable senators and congressmen to be turned off by seeming to have a gun to their head from people, you know, invading their offices. So, here’s our collection of tips and strategies to help you ramp up your employee motivation efforts.

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