Monday, June 28, 2021

On this day in history—the filibuster and SELMA

 From the “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” file….

On this day in history—The U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed after a eighty-three day filibuster in the Senate. For eighty-three days racist senators tried to block these basic human rights:

    - Discrimination in public places

    - The integration of schools and other public facilities

    - Employment discrimination

Thankfully that filibuster was ended by a cloture vote when Senator Everett Dirkson, the minority leader, found enough Republican votes to shut it down.

(And the story will give you chills, if you want to read on. )

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Act into law on July 2, 1964. 

        (From the "White men deciding things they have no business deciding" file)


But here we are today, with the threat of the filibuster again being used again to allow the suppression of voting rights.

It’s actually not a question of not remembering history. Mitch McConnell knows exactly what he’s doing with the filibuster today. It’s the same thing racist senators have always used the filibuster for.

Political scientists Sarah Binder and Steven Smith have identified every bill with a recorded history between 1837 and 1917 that died due to the use of the filibuster. Out of forty bills, at least ten targeted issues of race, including restricting and blocking voting rights.

After the “reform” of the filibuster between 1917 and 1994, half of the killed bills were civil rights bills, including anti-lynching bills.

History is repeating itself with a vengeance. Not because of ignorance of the past. Because of ignorance and hatred, willfully applied.

So our movie discussion today is SELMA (from my online Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop)—to remind everyone how far we should have come by now—and how hard people of malice are still fighting to erase progress.



As the Fourth of July approaches, with all its patriotic celebrations, I think of this TS Eliot quote:

                    Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow.

Patriotism also means not letting the country slide even further backward.

    - Alex

Read more on the filibuster here:

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