Flashback Friday: Florida Delegation and Civil Rights in the 1960s

Let’s focus today on the two items of momentous congressional legislation pushed in the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson and passed over the objection over the vast majority of the Florida Delegation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 received zero votes from members from the Deep South and very few from the peripheral south. The only vote in favor of final passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from Florida was by Rep. (former Senator) Claude Pepper, who courageously fought reactionary forces throughout his political career.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 received a higher percentage of support among Florida’s delegation than among any other southern state except Texas (which at this time was less “southern” than Florida) , something our state can be proud of. The act pushed by LBJ after the Selma Massacre got the support of several Florida congressmen including Rep. Charlie Bennett who represented the very conservative and racially polarized city of Jacksonville. This vote caused Bennett his only intense problems at home in his long and distinguished political career, but he survived in office until 1992.

Full votes of the Florida Delegation for both momentous pieces of legislation is listed below.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Final Passage

Florida Reps
NAY   D Sikes, Robert FL 1st
NAY   D Bennett, Charles FL 2nd
AYE   D Pepper, Claude FL 3rd
NAY   D Fascell, Dante FL 4th
NAY   D Herlong, Albert FL 5th
NAY   D Rogers, Paul FL 6th
NAY   D Haley, James FL 7th
NAY   D Matthews, Billy FL 8th
NAY   D Fuqua, Don FL 9th
NAY   D Gibbons, Sam FL 10th
NAY   R Gurney, Edward FL 11th
NAY   R Cramer, William FL 12th

Senate

NAY   D    Holland, Spessard FL

NAY   D    Smathers, George FL

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Florida Reps
NAY   D Sikes, Robert FL 1st
AYE   D Bennett, Charles FL 2nd
AYE   D Pepper, Claude FL 3rd
AYE   D Fascell, Dante FL 4th
AYE   D Herlong, Albert FL 5th
AYE   D Rogers, Paul FL 6th
NAY   D Haley, James FL 7th
NAY   D Matthews, Billy FL 8th
NAY   D Fuqua, Don FL 9th
AYE   D Gibbons, Sam FL 10th
NAY   R Gurney, Edward FL 11th
AYE   R Cramer, William FL 12th

Senate

NAY   D    Holland, Spessard FL

AYE    D    Smathers, George FL

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