Interview with Senator Ralph Yarborough
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'D LIKE TO JUST STOP DOWN FOR A MOMENT BECAUSE I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TROUBLE WITH THAT OK, I WOULD LIKE TO PROGESS UP TO, 1965 WHEN UM, A GROUP OF CIVIL RIGHTS DEMONSTRATORS TRIED TO MARCH ACROSS THE PETTUS BRIDGE AND THEY WERE GREETED THERE IN A VERY UNFRIENDLY WAY BY THE STATE TROOPERS IN ALABAMA, AND BEATEN AND TEAR GASSED AND EVERYTHING, UH, BEFORE I ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR COMMENT ON IT, HOW DID YOU FIRST, HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THAT, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST UH, INDICATION THAT SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED IN SELMA THAT DAY?

Senator Ralph Yarborough:

We were in the Senate. I cannot say whether it was radio or some other senator told me and we went and listened to the news uh, I do not recall. It just became the all pervasive topic in the Senate because a filibuster was going on, the Civil Rights Bill being strongly filibustered and there was talk in the cloak room. Senators gathered back in the cloak room, you know, nobody else went, lot of them had bills they wanted to pass they couldn't pass with that filibuster on, and they were saying back in the cloak room we'll never break that filibuster. The mood of those senators is strong enough and enough people sympathized with them, rather than break the filibuster they'll just be absent or sick that day. The means, the sentiment is not here, we can break it, it'll be close, but they can postpone this and ask us to give them a certain number of days and weeks and then let's lay that bill aside and pass our bills. That was the sentiment at that time. After Selma, there were no doubters then, those that were kind of on the fence waiting, willing to be absent or something, they were so outraged by what happened, they showed them on television, you know. You could see them dogging those people and putting the troopers on horseback and riding down and, and uh, putting the water hose to them. There's such a sense of outrage at the, the outrage was being committed by the people in uniform on the others, and the sentiment swung with that and that passed the bill. The general belief in the Senate, back in the cloak rooms was that bill wasn't going to pass that year. The Selma, treatment of the Selma marchers uh, swung the Senate around in my opinion and caused the passage.