The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of z964

With his wife tucked under his arm, as if to shield her from as much
abuse as possible, Johnson slowly made his way across the lobby of the
hotel while television cameras recorded Lady Bird's discomfort,
Johnson's embarrassed smile, and the jeering Republican women. Some
say the scene convinced many northeastern voters that the
Kennedy-Johnson ticket was deserving of their support. Dallas Morning
News essayist Lawrence Wright, writing of the incident, made the point
that wavering voters, fearful that Johnson was too southern in his political
views, were convinced that Johnson was worthy of being vice president.24
Johnson's dependence on the support and counsel of his wife was
described by Joseph Califano, who replaced Moyers as Johnson's
domestic advisor. Each morning at 8 A.M., Johnson's aides would gather
around his bed. "If Mrs. Johnson had not gotten out of the couple's big
four poster before aides began arriving, she would patiently lie there
next to him, bed jacket on, covers modestly pulled up to her chin.
Extraordinarily for a man with such a large ego and intensity of mis-
sion, LBJ deeply loved his wife. He liked to have her close by .... He
relished his wife's pillow talk and was lonely when she was not there
during the night."25
Neither Moyers nor Mrs. Wright saw Lyndon Johnson as the typical
Dixieland demagogue who courted votes with racist diatribes, particular-
ly following the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education deci-
sion of 1954, which ruled "separate but equal" unconstitutional. Wright,
in her interview with Mike Gillette, agreed that the Johnsons, albeit
southern, did not exhibit the kind of bigotry she had grown up with in
South. Asked about the Johnson's attitude on race relations she said,
"They had to be easy to work with, because how do you think I worked
for them for twenty-seven years if they hadn't been. ... I think I noticed
[their attitude] more during that time when Martin Luther King had
that march on Washington. I didn't go, of course, because I think work-
ing for the Johnsons I didn't associate myself with any of these things
that were going on. I kept it on TV, and President Johnson would come
in and say, 'Did you hear what went on today?' and I said, 'Yes.' He just
seemed happy with what was going on. He said, 'Well, this is a step for-
ward for your people.'"26 Wright said she felt as though Johnson was
unable to do what he wanted in regard to ending segregation because
24 Lawrence Wright, "Growing Up in Dallas," Dallas Mornng News, Jan. 17, 1988, Dallas Life
Magazine, 20.
"jJoseph A. Cahfano Jr., The Trumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1991), 27-29.
26 Wright to Gillette, December 1974, interview, Tape 1 transcript, 33-34, Wright name file
text of AC 81 (tape 1 of 2) (LBJ Library). Moyers' opinion from Moyers to Beil, Aug. 1o, 1997,
interview, notes in author's possession.

2002

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 24, 2015.