In this WSB newsfilm clip from July 12, 1963, Mississippi governor Ross Barnett testifies before a Congressional committee against proposed civil rights legislation in Washington, D.C.
The clip begins by showing a large audience in a conference room. Men sit at tables set in rows opposite an audience that sits in chairs. Mississippi governor Ross Barnett appears to speak. His comments are not initially recorded. After more views of the audience in the chamber, Barnett's comments are recorded. He accuses the Civil Rights movement of using communist tactics "to create crisis and then to leave the scene with heartaches, turmoil, and strife." Barnett claims the movement uses such tactics to increase racial conflict in a community and then lets things cool off, citing recent events in Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Danville, Virginia; Cambridge, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York City, New York. Barnett asserts that each time civil rights groups "attack with a hammer and then withdraw," they further damage "existing good relations of the people of this great nation." He declares that legislation will not cure racial problems but will instead "mean the complete end of Constitutional government in America and result in racial violence of unimaginable scope."
President John F. Kennedy proposed civil rights legislation during a speech to the nation shortly after the integration of the University of Alabama in June 1963 and sent a bill to Congress for its consideration shortly after that. In October, a new version of the bill was crafted during negotiations between the president and congressmen. The bill was carefully written to have a good chance of getting a two-thirds cloture vote in the Senate in order to overturn a threatened Southern-led filibuster against the bill. After Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his first speech to Congress as president, urged the passage of the civil rights bill as a tribute to Kennedy. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on February 10, 1964 and was then sent to the Senate, where Southern senators held a filibuster in attempts to block the legislation. The Senate eventually passed the bill and sent it back to the House of Representatives where it was approved as passed by the Senate on July 2, 1964. That same day, President Johnson signed the bill into law at one of the largest bill-signing ceremonies ever held at the White House.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
Local identification number: Clip number: wsbn31860