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The bill was quickly passed in the House of Representatives, but Southern Democrats filibustered it in the Senate for almost three months. [President Lyndon] Johnson made personal telephone calls to many of the Southern Democrats, and told them that they would be sorry if they didn't drop their opposition. He reminded the Southerners that he was the first Southerner serving as president since before the Civil War, and if they ruined his agenda, they might not see another Southern president for another hundred years.
The bill finally came up for a vote in the Senate on this day in 1964. Every senator was present, including Senator Clair Engle of California, who was dying of a brain tumor and couldn't speak. In order to vote yes, he pointed to his eye. Johnson needed 67 votes to break a filibuster. He got 71.You can read the full transcript or listen to the entire episode, which includes a sweet poem about the yellow Lab, by clicking here.
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