When President Johnson signed the bill, he handed the first pen to Dirksen as a token of his appreciation for his critical role in getting the bill passed into law.
The chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd, a former official in the Ku Klux Klan who remained in Congress until his death in 2010 . None of these racist Democrats became Republicans.
Behind closed doors Lyndon Johnson said: "These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again."