Interview with Nicholas Katzenbach
QUESTION 37
INTERVIEWER:

OK, LET'S STOP DOWN FOR JUST—OK LET'S JUST SORT OF GET AT, YOU KNOW, WHERE, WHERE, WHERE DID WASHINGTON'S INVOLVEMENT REALLY BEGIN THROUGH CONGRESS …

Nicholas Katzenbach:

Well, I think Bloody Sunday had a tremendous impact in Washington. The impact was because the Congress having spent days and days the Senate in uh, in filibustering uh, to get the ‘64 Civil Rights Act through it had been a long struggle and taken the place of other legislation. I think they were tired of legislation, even if Lyndon Johnson wanted more. When you had Bloody Sunday spread on all of the television cameras around the country and saw what had happened, I think their attitude was, "Oh, my God, we've just got to, got to get on top of this problem, we can't continue to have, be distracted by, by race, we've got to solve the, solve the problem." There wasn't anybody, Dick Russell, Senator Russell, uh, of Georgia who led the Southerners in their filibuster, people like that weren't about to defend the activities that were going on in Selma. They were just as, they were just as horrified by this uh as, as uh, as the most liberal of the civil rights people were. Uh, and uh, so the, I think it was the catalyst in getting Congress to act because they were just tired of Civil Rights. Uh, and uh, and it was interesting on voting because there wasn't a Southerner who was prepared to defend the proposition that there should be discrimination in voting. They may have denied that discrimination went on, but they were not prepared to, to defend it. They had defended discrimination uh, in public accommodations and that sort of thing.