Keith M. Finley, author of Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight against Civil Rights, 1938-1965, was recently awarded the prestigious D. B. Hardeman Prize offered by the Lyndon B. Johnson Library for the best book that furthers the study of the US Congress.
Dr. Betty Koed, Assistant Historian in the Office of the United States Senate, and a member of the Hardeman Prize Committee, had this to say about Professor Finley’s book:
"The Senate of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, with its dominance by seniority, its tradition of nearly unlimited debate, and its club-like atmosphere, was uniquely suited to the cause of civil rights opposition. As Finley argues, "Southern senators, in effect, transformed the chamber into a citadel of their interests." As the Civil Rights movement advanced, segregationists realized that their strength to defend Jim Crow was waning, and subsequently they shifted their strategy to one of delay rather than complete obstruction. That shift did not happen suddenly, but developed gradually, beginning with the battle over antilynching bills in the 1930s. By forming strong coalitions with northern and western conservatives, segregationists devised a "southern strategy" for legislative action that successfully forestalled civil rights reform for three decades. Finley is by no means an apologist for the segregationists, but he skillfully uncovers the multi-layered tactics of the southern caucus that so successfully dictated policy, while exploring the constitutional arguments carefully devised by southern senators.
Delaying the Dream is an excellent addition to the literature on civil rights reform in America. In particular, Finley deftly describes the Senate of the mid-20th century. He emphasizes the necessity of understanding Senate rules and procedures as well as the importance of committee action, while adding another chapter to the continuing debate over the filibuster. Delaying the Dream is essential reading for civil rights historians and those seeking to understand the Senate's unique folkways."