HR 7152
Everett Dirksen & The Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Stan Mendenhall
The abolition of slavery in 1865 was merely the first act in the continuing drama to ensure equal rights for all Americans. The quest for civil rights legislation in the century following the Civil War was a long road, hampered by decades of struggle, neglect, and delay. Entrenched racial attitudes and hallowed legislative procedures left little hope for African-Americans to share in the American dream. It was not until 1964, that many diverse and powerful forces combined with the personal courage of the U.S. Senate minority leader and senior senator from Illinois, Everett McKinley Dirksen, to pass the most meaningful civil rights legislation in nearly a century: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Comments from the Free Republic
In the Senate, Minority Leader Everett Dirksen had little trouble rounding up the votes of most Republicans, and former presidential candidate Richard Nixon also lobbied hard for the bill. Senate Majority Leader Michael Mansfield and Senator Hubert Humphrey led the Democrat drive for passage, while the chief opponents were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, of later Watergate fame, Albert Gore Sr., and Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd, a former Klansman whom Democrats still call "the conscience of the Senate", filibustered against the civil rights bill for fourteen straight hours before the final vote.