Francis R. Valeo: Secretary of the Senate
Interviewed by Senate Historian Donald Ritchie in 1985, Valeo recounts the Senate’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
VALEO: The details in which the bill came up elude me a little bit, except that it was suddenly decided, I think on the basis of what was happening in Atlanta and Birmingham and other places, that this could wait no longer, that it had to move, and if it didn't the country was going to have some very serious problems, in the South in particular. So the decision was made in the administration and conveyed to Mansfield, who was still reluctant to face the issue, that it had to be faced and it had to be done. And I’m trying to think if it was in the second session of that—it would have been in '64, so it would have been the second session of that Congress. And the decision was made early in the Congress, or perhaps not too long after Kennedy was assassinated, that we had to go this way, and one way or another, we'd have to make the attempt. And it was going to be win or lose but we had to make the attempt.
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