Civil Rights Act of 1957

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Republican Attorney General Herbert Brownell originally proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Democrat Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson had Judiciary chairman Sen. James Eastland drastically watered-down the House version, removing stringent voting protection clauses.[1][2] The bill passed 285–126 in the House with Republicans providing the majority of votes 167–19 and Democrats 118–107.[3] It then passed 72–18 in the Senate, with Republicans again supplying the majority of votes, 43–0 and Democrats voting 29–18. Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who later became president, voted against it.[4]

It was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Johnson told Sen. Richard Russell,

"These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again."[5]

See also


  2. Caro, Robert, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Chapter 39
  4. The Kennedys and Civil Rights: How the MSM Continues to Distort History, Part 2, James DiEugenio, 07 October 2018. "Kennedy sided with the segregationists on a complicated procedural matter that watered down that bill. (p. 58) Even for Levingston, this is sorry. What watered down the bill was the removal of something that Kennedy voted for. This was called Title III.
  5. Said to Senator Richard Russell, Jr. (D-GA) regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1957. As quoted in Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1977), by Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York: New American Library, p. 155.