The National Portraits Gallery blog "Face to Face" reminisces that 48 years ago this week, Illinois' late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen - a staunch Republican - led the fight to pass America's first Civil Rights legislation. The gallery wrote in 2008 about Dirksen's appearance on the June 19, 1964 cover of TIME, now on display at the Smithsonian gallery:
In the beginning, Dirksen could only guarantee that twelve to fourteen of his thirty-three Republicans would join with floor manager Hubert Humphrey’s solid forty-one Democrats, leaving the total short of the sixty-seven votes necessary to shut down the southern Democrats. “The key,” said majority leader Mike Mansfield, “is Dirksen.” Dirksen himself acknowledged, “Getting cloture is going to be as difficult as hell.” He went to his members one by one, pleading with them, appealing to their moral sensibilities, reminding them of past favors, and warning of more civil unrest, exercising his beguiling talents to their fullest effect.
By June 10, the stage was set. The Democratic senator from West Virginia, Robert C. Byrd, sat down after speaking for fourteen hours and thirteen minutes, and Senator Richard Russell of Georgia summed up for the southern opposition. Senator Dirksen then took the floor. “Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come,” he said, quoting Victor Hugo in his basso profundo voice. “The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment. It will not be stayed or denied. It is here.”
Dirksen produced twenty-three Republican votes to make a total of sevemty—three votes beyond the necessary two-thirds to break the filibuster (the final tally was 71–29). Swift passage of the civil rights bill followed, and the House, rather than argue, accepted the Senate version. On July 2, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law a bill that banned discrimination in public facilities, provided voting rights protection, and established equal opportunity as the law of the land.
More at "Face to Face"