Southwestern Historical Quarterly
after roll of film of the mayhem. When it was over, the press and politi-
cians had crowned Farmer as one of the four most important figures in
the modern civil rights movement. The other three were Roy Wilkins of
the NAACP, Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, and Whitney Young of the National Urban
League.9 Farmer's CORE was closely allied with the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee. John Lewis, SNCC's first president, was
among the first thirteen Freedom Riders who boarded the buses in
Washington. Washington politicians and southern racists identified both
CORE and SNCC as extremists, but during the first years of the civil
rights demonstrations, youthful SNCC was not considered as powerful or
as influential as CORE, the NAACP, the Urban League, or the SCLC.1'
Two years after Farmer entered Wiley College, Bill Moyers was born
on June 6, 1936, in Hugo, Oklahoma. His family moved to Marshall
when he was a preschooler, and in 1952 he graduated with honors from
Marshall High School. Just as Farmer had been, Moyers was identified
early in his life as precocious. When Moyers was sixteen, publisher
Millard Cope hired him as a reporter for the Marshall News Messenger and
assigned him to beats normally reserved for more mature reporters.'1
Moyers attended North Texas State College in Denton for two years,
graduated from the University of Texas, and completed his masters
degree in theology from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth.
Like Farmer, Moyers also elected not to enter the ministry. He was
offered a teaching position at Baylor University in Waco but turned it
down to enter the world of politics.
With Cope's recommendation, Moyers first worked for Sen. Lyndon
Johnson while Moyers was still an undergraduate at North Texas. He was
an important part of the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960 and was
rewarded with the position of deputy director of the Peace Corps under
Kennedy's brother-in-law Sargent Shriver. At age twenty-six, Moyers was
one of the youngest men ever to be confirmed by the Senate.12 He
became a special assistant to the president when Johnson moved into
9 The four met with both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson and
their photographs with both presidents appear in the Penguin trade edition of Lay Bare the Heart.
10 John F. Kennedy's opinion of Farmer, CORE, and SNCC appears m Farmer, Lay Bare the
Heart, 220-221, and was affirmed by Moyers. Bill Moyers to Gall K Bell, Nov. 4, 1997, interview,
notes in author's possession.
" Soon after Moyers was hired, Cope got a complaint from one of newspaper's advertisers,
insurance man Piggy Byrne, that Moyers was too young to cover something as important as a
school board meeting. The pubhsher suggested to his complainant that he wait until Moyers had
actually covered the meeting and written his story to make a final judgment and to call back if
the complainant still felt Moyers was too young. Byrne was never heard from again on the mat-
ter. Max Lale to Gail K Beil, 1982, interview Lale was city editor of the Marshall News Messenger at
the time Moyers was hired.
12 Eric Goldman, The Tragedy ofLyndon Johnson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), 1o8.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed May 23, 2015.