In this WSB newsfilm clip from February 29, 1960, a reporter interviews two Northern Republican senators, Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and Ken Keating of New York, early in a Southern-led filibuster over proposed civil rights legislation in Washington, D.C.
The clip begins with the camera focusing on Senator Hugh Scott, a Republican from Pennsylvania. An off-screen female reporter asks the senator about the around-the-clock sessions the Senate began that day. Senator Scott calls the filibuster "the Senate's version of the pajama game." The reporter then asks Senator Scott the secret of breaking a filibuster or an extended debate. Scott explains that it is important to be near the Senate chambers to answer quorum calls. Southern senators will call for a quorum to get some rest and to test the opposition; if the fifty-one senators needed to make a quorum cannot be found the Southern senators have a chance to defeat the Civil Rights bill.
The reporter next turns to Senator Ken Keating, a Republican from New York. In response to the reporter's question, Senator Keating estimates the filibuster will go on for two or three weeks, with votes for cloture, ending the debate and moving to voting, happening once a week. Keating indicates that two-thirds of the senators have to vote for cloture in order to end the Southern senators' filibuster. Both Senators Keating and Scott feel their experience in politics in their home states indicate they can put up with the filibuster.
The United States Senate began debate on the proposed Civil Rights bill on February 15, 1960 after it was debated and passed by the House of Representatives. On February 29, eighteen Southern senators began an around-the-clock filibuster, which lasted until April 8 and had just one fifteen-minute break. The bill was finally passed in the Senate on a vote of seventy-one in favor, ten against, and eighteen abstaining. The bill was signed into law on May 6, 1960 by president Dwight Eisenhower, becoming the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
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.