For the last half of the 20th century, America was consumed by two struggles: the civil rights movement and the cold war. For 30 years, Hubert Humphrey stood at the center of both. And while he never reached his dream of being president - and in fact is most remembered for his 1968 loss to Richard Nixon - Humphrey left behind a legacy few presidents can match. As a soldier of the New Deal and the Great Society, he amassed one of the most prolific legislative records in senate history, sponsoring hundreds of bills - from Medicare to the Peace Corps to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
But Humphrey's most enduring achievements were in the areas of civil and human rights. Propelled to party prominence during the 1948 Democratic National Convention, the 37-year-old mayor of Minneapolis delivered an historic speech directly challenging the racist leadership of the U.S. Senate. Almost two decades later, Humphrey's extensive network of church and civil rights leaders helped him to break the longest filibuster in senate history, resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In November of 1977, for the first time in U.S. history Congress held a special session to honor a single senator. In the words of journalist Bill Moyers, ""while we may not remember Hubert Humphrey's name, [his] fingerprints are all over the America of today.""
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