June 24th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

How LBJ got the Civil Rights Act passed

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

The Civil Rights Act remains one of the great puzzles and achievements of American history. The achievement part is obvious. The puzzle part is two-fold.  First: why did it take so long?  It passed 101 years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. And second: how did it finally get passed?

To get the answers, let’s step back 50 years. It's hard for young people today to imagine, but back then there were restaurants and stores and cabs – mostly in the South – where black people were not served. There were separate water fountains for the two races and, as Rosa Parks made infamous, separate sections of buses, just to name a few. It was legal in 1964 to refuse to hire somebody because of the color of their skin or their gender. A year earlier, President John F. Kennedy had addressed the nation to urge action on civil rights.

But then Kennedy was assassinated. Surprisingly, his successor Lyndon Baines Johnson, a staunch Southerner, took up the cause, a cause that looked hopeless.

Why? Johnson biographer Robert Caro explains.

For more on the issue, tune into CNN's 'The Sixties' as it explores the civil rights movement in-depth, this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.


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Topics: GPS Show • History • Politics • United States

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Because

    Because he didn't have to deal with the GOPTards we have today.

    June 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini@

      @ Because:
      Do you think that any of the Democrats we have today might possibly be racists?

      June 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  2. Ferhat Balkan

    Why did it take so long? Racism. Let's not kid ourselves, racism still exists today. It may not be on paper, but it exists in many forms. Take for example the recent racial profiling with "Stop and Frisk" in NY, the Trayvon Martin case in Florida etc.

    June 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    Yep and even though most wont admit it you see it every day! Most times on this site!

    June 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  4. rupert

    L.B.J. would pick up his dog by the ears.
    I am near Dayton ohio. My cell phone does not work proper. I can hear people. But they cannot hear me. Hello. Hello. Hello. Get the picture?
    I sent out smoke signals. But I can't spell help in smoke.
    help me please

    June 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  5. banasy@

    Oh rupert. Do be careful. There are bugs in those sink holes. I have got some volunteers to go to rescue you. ♥

    June 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  6. chri§§y

    Lol not banasy but it is funny!

    June 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  7. chr§§y

    I am going to. Rupert. I am part Cherokee. My great great great grandfather was a chief. He fought general custard.
    I will meet u there banasy. Good friend

    June 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  8. Joey Isotta Fraschini

    Wait for me ladies. I will take the chicken salad sandwiches and ruffles potato chips.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  9. George Patton

    Good grief joey. Such lingo! Leave the chicken sandwiches behind. I am taking roasted oven turkey on swiss. And ruffles of course

    June 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini@

      I do not eat potato chips, and I don't eat chicken salad.
      I certainly wouldn't offer them to anyone else.

      June 25, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
  10. ferhat

    I am taking cold pepperoni pizza.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  11. dazzle

    I'm sorry. I can't go rupert. But I have to prep for my college lecture tomorrow. "How to win people over" And I have to grade test papers through the scan Tran.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini@

      @ dazzle:
      You could have Zabar's send @ rupert a gift certificate.

      June 25, 2014 at 11:16 am | Reply
      • dazzle

        He wouldn't understand a New Yorker's love for Zabar's @JIF since they don't serve his beloved pizza. @ troll, Scantron, never!

        June 25, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  12. chri§§y

    Lmao cute ya derp! My italian/irish and german/skandinavian parents would be trippin to read that!!!

    June 24, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini@

    Another fact that many of today's young people find difficult to accept is that most young people in the late 1950s worked diligently to eradicate racist thinking and laws.

    June 25, 2014 at 11:05 am | Reply
  14. j. von hettlingen

    Robert Caro is full of praise of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He is LBJ's hagiographer!
    Looking back, LBJ wasn't too bad after all, compared to GWB.

    June 27, 2014 at 8:39 am | Reply

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