Mr. Yarborough, a liberal Democrat who became known as "The People's Senator", was the only senator from a former Confederate state to vote for every civil rights law.
Senator Ralph Yarborough
United States Congress Photo
Mr. Yarborough, who was 1st elected to the US Senate in 1957, was born in Chandler, Texas & attended the US Military Academy.
Yarborough graduated from Sam Houston Teacher's College in 1921 & taught school for 3 years. During WWII, he served in the US Army in Europe & Japan.
One of his 1st victories in the Senate was the passage of the National Defense Education Act of 1958. Later he served as chair of the Senate Labor & Public Welfare Committee.
In the fall of 1963, Yarborough was having a rift with Texas Governor John Connally and the conservative wing of Texas Democrats.
It has been written that one of the reasons JFK went to Texas was to try to "patch up" this feud as the electoral votes of Texas were critical to JFK in the election of 1964.
The story goes that Senator Yarborough did not ride with LBJ in an earlier motorcade & JFK had a "loud" private discussion with the Vice-President indicating his displeasure at the way Yarborough was being treated.*
*According to Phillip F. Nelson in "LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination" (2011), LBJ was trying to get JFK to put Yarborough in the limo with JFK in order to move his friend, John Connally, to the safety of his own car.
Governor Connally said later that JFK told him that if Yarborough did not ride with LBJ in the Dallas motorcade, "he would walk".
As JFK's motorcade turned onto Elm Street, Yarborough & LBJ were sitting in the back seat, with Lady Bird in between, in an open car directly behind the secret service follow up car.
Following is Senator Yarborough's account of what happened:
And I walked up to the car where Mrs. Kennedy was still there on the back seat, lying there with her head bowed over covering her husband’s head, his blood running down her leg and on her clothes, and twice saying, "They’ve murdered my husband. They’ve murdered my husband." It’s the most tragic sight of my life."*
*From The Men Who Killed Kennedy – The Coup d'état, N. Turner, 1988