On August 28, 1957, United States Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina began a filibuster, or extended speech, intended to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. It began at 8:54 p.m. and lasted until 9:12 p.m. the following day, for a total length of 24 hours and 18 minutes. This made the filibuster the longest single-person filibuster in U.S. Senate history, a record that still stands today .
The content of the filibuster focused primarily on asserting that the bill was both unnecessary and unconstitutional, with Thurmond reading from a number of laws and other legal documents. While the filibuster was supported by many South Carolinians, Thurmond’s decision to filibuster the bill went against a previous agreement among Southern Senators. As a result, Thurmond received mixed praise and criticism for his speech. Thurmond’s filibuster is widely seen as racist today, as the civil rights bill it opposed protected voting rights for African-Americans. Despite the filibuster, the bill passed within two hours of Thurmond’s speech.
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We all know the double life this man lived, as his biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams wrote about in her Memoir: Dear Senator