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POLITICO senior writer Todd Purdum will talk about his new book—An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964—on Wednesday, April 23, at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Purdum will be joined by John Stewart, a former TVA executive and chief legislative aide to former Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Purdum’s talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Toyota Auditorium of the Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Avenue. Afterward, he will sign copies of his book, which will be for sale on site.

In addition to writing for POLITICO, Purdum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He worked for the New York Times for twenty-three years, covering politics from city hall to the White House, and also serving as diplomatic correspondent and Los Angeles bureau chief. He is married to former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers.

Amazon calls Purdum’s book, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Right Act, a powerful narrative layered with revealing detail.

“It was a turbulent time in America—a time of sit-ins, freedom rides, a march on Washington, and a governor standing in the schoolhouse door—when John F. Kennedy sent Congress a bill to bar racial discrimination in employment, education,  and public accommodations. Countless civil rights measures had died on Capitol Hill in the past. But this one was different because, as one influential senator put it, it was ‘an idea whose time has come.'”

Purdum tells how the act became law, “recreating the legislative maneuvering and the larger-than-life characters who made its passage possible,” the Amazon review reads. “From the Kennedy brothers to Lyndon Johnson, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen, Purdum shows how these all-too-human figures managed, in just over a year, to create a bill that prompted the longest filibuster in the history of the US Senate yet was ultimately adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support. He evokes the high purpose and low dealings that marked the creation of this monumental law, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of new interviews that bring to life this signal achievement in American history.

“Often hailed as the most important law of the past century, the Civil Rights Act stands as a lesson for our own troubled times about what is possible when patience, bipartisanship, and decency rule the day.”

From Macomb, Illinois, Purdum is a graduate of Princeton University. He and Myers live in Washington, DC, with their two children.

The Baker Center is a nonpartisan institute devoted to education and research concerning public policy and civic engagement. For more information, visit the Baker Center website.

C O N T A C T :

Nissa Dahlin-Brown, Baker Center, (865-974-8681,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,