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March 18, 1965 Thurmond hits LBJ bill on education

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Published on: Thursday, October 06, 2011

Each week, The Sentinel revisits a memorable story from our archives.  

South Carolina Sen J. Strom Thurmond has attacked President Johnson’s education bill, stating that the American people “will regret the day when the federal government gets control of education.”

Speaking before 200 members of the Rock Creek Woman’s Republican Club at Governor’s House in Bethesda Tuesday, the one-time State’s Rights Party candidate for president said that the education bill is just another example of the centralization of government power—“of the federal government getting into an area which is reserved to the states.”

The education bill, Thurmond said, would enable the federal government “to go into every field of education, starting with pre-school and on up through post-graduate work.”

“The word education is not even found in the Constitution or in any of the amendments.” He said. “The federal government can go only into those fields in which it has specific authority—authority from the Constitution.”

“The American people will see the day, if the federal government takes over education, when history books will be rewritten, when sociology will be taught to a greater degree, when there’ll be federal inspections of schools, when teachers will be kicked out, when the curriculum is prescribed by the federal government.”

The South Carolinian, who bolted the Democratic Party last fall to join the Republicans and back Barry Goldwater for the presidency, blamed his former party for the “centralization of power.”

“Down through the ages, it has been government that has brought tyranny to the people,” he said. “Who has brought this centralization of power which we have today?

“I say—and I said this while I was still a Democrat—that it is chiefly the Democratic administrations of this country that have brought this upon us.”

Thurmond also hit at fair employment legislation which, he said, “will tell people who they can hire, who they can fire, who they can promote, who they can demote—will tell a man how to run his business. This means an employer will have to hire an unqualified person—perhaps one whose loyalty he questions—because some government bureaucrat tells him he has to.”

The senator blamed the Northern press for wrongly characterizing him as a racist.

“I am not a racist,” he said. “I believe in equal educational opportunities, equal economic opportunities, equal political opportunities for everyone. But we have a Constitution which we must abide by. It is not right for congress to pass statutes that ten to abrogate and nullify the constitution.”

Thurmond said the civil rights law of 1964 “will give the federal government ultimate control over private property.”

He also placed much of the blame for the “centralization of power” on federal money.

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