Which Party Is the “Party of Civil Rights”?

By | March 18, 2015

There is a canard circulating that the “Republicans are the party of civil rights and the Democrats are the party against civil rights,” based upon an gross misunderstanding of what happened in 1964, an incompetent search for the facts, and a malicious desire to change history for partisan advantage.

You need to know the facts so you can shut that conversation right down.

Let’s go back to 1964 and look at the vote counts in the United States Congress with regards to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

First of all, the actual breakdown of votes for the final bill in the House and Senate is easily discoverable in Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964#Vote_totals

Here is the summary:

By party

Original House version
House: 152-96 (D) or 61-39%
Senate: 138-34 (R) or 80-20%

Cloture in the Senate
44-23 (D) or 66-34%
27-6 (R) or 82-18%

Final Senate vote
46-21 (D) or 69-31%
27-6 (R) or 82-18%

Senate version, voted on by the House:
153-91 (D) or 63-27%
136-35 (R) or 80-20%

Which is impressive. There was a significant majority on both sides of the aisle, Democratic and Republican, for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Looks like there was a move to be decent to American citizens for the simple exercise of their civil rights.

But what is much more interesting is to look at the breakdown by region, and not by party.

Comparing the Representatives and Senators from the Old Confederacy states, here’s the breakdown (“Aye” is the first number, “Nay” is the second):

In the House
Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7-93%)
Southern Republicans:  0-10 (0-100%)

Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94-6%)
Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85-15%)

In the Senate:
Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5-95%)
Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0-100%)

Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98-2%)
Northern Republicans: 27-5 (85-16%)

The significant difference here is NOT the party. Both parties in toto supported the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights bill.

The significant difference here is that the elected officials from the states of the Old Confederacy, in both parties, voted massively against civil rights, and the elected officials from the states of the Union voted massively for civil rights.

Only the fact that the North, Midwest, and West (the states of the Union) voted overwhelmingly for civil rights counterbalanced the overwhelming opposition to civil rights for the citizens in the very states these men represented.

This canard that the “Republicans passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act” needs to be dispensed with. It is easily refuted by the facts of history. Repeating the false claims after being informed of the facts is a greater error of fact, and a shameful mark against character.


The South/Confederacy The North/Union
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Vote by Region / Party


Vote by Region / Party (Combined)