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Video: The New York Times’ Clay Risen on the Civil Rights Act

April 8, 2014 by NCC Staff


New York Times editor Clay Risen talks about his newest book, “The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act,” in a National Constitution Center video with the Center’s Jeffrey Rosen.


Risen discussed behind-the-scenes accounts of the unsung congressional and White House heroes who helped the Civil Rights Act become the law of the land in 1964.

On his website, Risen talks about how the act we all take as an assumed fact of life today wasn’t a certainty 50 years ago.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress in American history. This one law so dramatically altered American society that, looking back, it seems preordained—as Everett Dirksen, the GOP leader in the Senate and a key supporter of the bill, said, ‘no force is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.’ But there was nothing predestined about its victory: a phalanx of powerful senators, pledging to “fight to the death” for segregation, launched the longest filibuster in American history to defeat it,” said Risen.

To watch the video, use the player below or click on this link:


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