Richard Smurthwaite (Readers' Forum, Dec. 10) stated, "It was Democrats who fought against the Civil Rights Act of 1964." This statement does not accurately reflect the civil rights debates of the late 1950s and early 1960s and needs to be clarified. Both the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 were strongly resisted by white, conservative politicians in the Southern states. Because of Franklin Roosevelt's broad political coalition, the Southern states were, at the time, solidly Democratic. It was largely because of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, that the South left the Democratic Party and turned Republican.

In looking at the full spectrum of human rights and social issues, the Democratic party normally is in the forefront of needed change. Republicans, by their own definition, remain "conservative."

David E. Lowry