Florida Memory: Gov. Farris Bryant Testifies in front of US Senate

The Florida Division of Library Services has a wonderful website called Florida Memory where they share photos, videos and audio from some great moments in Florida history.

If you are a junkie of this state’s history like myself, you are sure to spend hours on the site as I have done in the past. In this particular video Governor Bryant demonstrates the extremism of the Florida Democratic Party during the civil rights era while articulating his views in a more moderate  tone relatively speaking when compared to the other southern Democratic governors of the period. (Still his rhetoric would have been well out of the mainstream in any other region of the country.)

Governor Farris Bryant (D-Ocala) who had been a power in Florida politics from his election to the State House in 1942 onwards was a strong segregationist. As Speaker of the House he helped reroute the Turnpike towards the center of the state (it was originally supposed to be routed from Miami to Jacksonville) while working in alliance with other “pork-chop” gang legislators to blocks any efforts towards desegregation. In 1960, Bryant was elected Governor on a segregationist platform. In July 1963, Governor Bryant testified against the Civil Rights legislation sent to the Congress by President Kennedy. You can watch his entire testimony here. 

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