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May 31, 2011

HUBERT H. HUMPHREY’S 100TH BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY

by profbartling1

On Humphrey’s  100th birthday anniversary last Friday (5-27) our cooperative showed a new documentary,  “The  Art of the Possible”  dealing with his political career. Bill Moyers remarked in the documentary: “while we may not remember Hubert Humphrey’s name his fingerprints are all over the America of today”.  Humphrey shepherded New Deal, Fair Deal, and Great Society programs through the Senate over a thirty year period, 1948-1968. A few examples include arms control, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, food stamps, foreign aid,  giving JFK the idea of the Peace Corps, and Medicare. My particular interest is The Happy Warrior’s leadership in the crusade for civil rights, 1948-64.  His national political debut was as the 37-yearold Mayor of Minneapolis and candidate for the Senate.  He led the Minnesota  delegation to the 1948 Democratic National Convention.  Insisting that the party platform include a federal fair employment commission, a goal of the civil rights movement. Segregationist Southerners  threatened to walk out. This was the context for one of the great speeches in American political history. Hubert thundered from the podium:  “To those who say this civil rights program is an infringement on state’s rights I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightlyinto the bright sunshine of human rights.”  The motion carried and the Southerners walked out forming the Dixiecrat Party.  Democrats became the party of civil rights.  The Civil Rights Decade began in 1954 and closed  in 1964 with passage of the Civil Rights Act..  Humphry had outlasted the longest Senate filibuster waged by Southern segregationists. Passage of the act heralded the death Jim Crow ( legal segregation). Hubert Humphrey died January 13, 1978. After lying in state at the United States capitol later on the evening prior to interment Humphrey lay in state in the Minnesota state capitol rotunda. On a bitterly cold Minnesota January evening three of my grade school daughters joined their father in honoring Hubert Humphrey.  We filed respectfully and silently around his bier.

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