Thursday, October 21, 2010
AS SEEN IN:
"The Missiles Of October"
AS PLAYED BY:
Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. (November 2, 1897 – January 21, 1971) was a Democratic Party politician who was Governor and a long-time United States Senator from the state of Georgia.
He represented Georgia in the Senate from 1933 until his death in 1971. He was a founder and leader of the conservative coalition that dominated Congress from 1937 to 1963, and at his death was the most senior member of the Senate. He was for decades a leader of Southern opposition to the civil rights movement.
While a prime mentor of Johnson, Russell and the then-president Johnson also disagreed over civil rights. Russell, a white supremacist, had repeatedly blocked and defeated civil rights legislation via use of the filibuster and had co-authored the Southern Manifesto in opposition to civil rights. He had not supported the States Rights' Democratic Party of Strom Thurmond in 1948, but he opposed civil rights laws as unconstitutional and unwise. (Unlike Theodore Bilbo, "Cotton Ed" Smith and James Eastland, who had reputations as ruthless, tough-talking, heavy-handed race baiters, he never justified hatred or acts of violence to defend segregation. But he strongly defended white supremacy and apparently did not question it, nor ever apologize for his white supremacist views, votes and speeches.) Russell was key, for decades, in blocking meaningful civil rights legislation that might have protected African-Americans from lynching, disenfranchisement, and disparate treatment under the law.
A prominent supporter of a strong national defense, Russell became in the 1950s the most knowledgeable and powerful congressional leader in this area. He used his powers as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1951 to 1969 and then as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee as an institutional base to add defense installations and jobs for Georgia. He was dubious about the Vietnam War, privately warning President Johnson repeatedly against deeper involvement.
This is one of the few instances in the production where the actor looked nothing like the historical figure. (See Adlai Stevenson in next year's collection.) But based on what Wikipedia had to say about him, maybe we were seeing the inner Russell.....