2002 The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 21
James Farmer, second from left, and Maj. Hugh Robinson, right, met with President
Johnson in the Little Office off the Oval Office in the White House in August 1965. LBJ
Library Photo by Yoichi Okamoto.
Texas State Historical Association in March 1998, Farmer was ushered
into the Oval Office where he was to have thirty minutes with the young
president. Kennedy shuffled papers the entire time, ignoring his guest.
Farmer said at first he tried talking to Kennedy and got no response.
Then, he said, he stopped talking. Still he was ignored. Finally Farmer
said, "If you're too busy for this meeting, I'm sure it can be arranged for
another time more convenient to you." Still he got no response. Finally,
when the half hour was finished, he told President Kennedy, "I see that
my time is up. I won't impose further on your schedule. Thank you for
seeing me."5 In Lay Bare the Heart Farmer called the incident "the most
insulting session I've ever had with a government official."53
Though Farmer agreed with others involved in the civil rights move-
ment of the i96os that Johnson sincerely wanted the civil rights bill of
1964 to pass, he said the president hated the marches and the demon-
strations.5' Farmer, on the other hand, knew that without them, the
impetus to get a bill passed would fade. For this reason Farmer did not
remain long an intimate of Johnson as did the other three Marshallites.
5 The author attended the March 2, 1998, Texas State Historical Association annual meeting
and introduced Farmer.
: Farmer, Lay Bare the Heart, 220.
SFarmer said so publicly in David Grubin's two-part documentary "LBJ," broadcast in 199 as
part of the PBS series "The American Experience." He has said so privately many times, and
because he would not -or could not-call off the demonstrations from the time the 1964 civil
rights bill was introduced to the end of the November 1964 presidential election, it ruptured his
friendship with Johnson for the rest of Johnson's days.
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 July 7, 2015.