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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

tone of thought and feeling in the country ... .What the president says is of
utmost importance to the people," Farmer said in an interview at the LBJ
Presidential Library in 1985. "So we told our [CORE] members and our
supporters to fight, of course, for a president whose experiences, and
whose background, and whose utterances, and whose records were more
in common with what we wanted."'6 The telephone logs from June 21
through June 23 indicate Johnson was equally reluctant to talk to the fami-
lies of the three missing men. Johnson did care about the fate of
Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, and LBJ Library records indicate he
spoke often to J. Edgar Hoover about the FBI search. At one point, exas-
perated with what he perceived as FBI foot-dragging, Johnson told Hoover,
You ought to have the best intelligence system-better than you've got on the
Communists. I read a dozen of your reports here last night, here till one o'clock,
on Communists, and they can't open their mouths without your knowing what
they're saying. ... Now I don't want these Klansmen to open their mouths with-
out your knowing what they're saying. They ought to have intelligence on that
state (Mississippi) because that's going to be the most dangerous thing we have
this year.... I'm having demands for five thousand soldiers. And all these
groups are meeting all over the United States. Farmer's got a group out in
Kansas City today.... Martin Luther King's getting ready.63
That conversation with Hoover took place July 2, the day Johnson
signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Records indicate the con-
versation with Hoover was at 5:02 P.M. Johnson signed the act at 6:45
P.M. The violent death of those three CORE workers, and the bloody
scene on March 7, 1964, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma,
Alabama, which began the march to Montgomery during "Freedom
Summer," were two of the major motivations for the second of
Johnson's civil rights bills, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.64
The 1964 signing ceremony was held in the East Room. A large dele-
gation of civil rights leaders, senior members of the Justice Department,
and members of the House and Senate, including Texas Sen. Ralph
Yarborough-the only southern senator to vote for the bill-gathered
around the president.65 Of the four Marshallites, only Mrs. Johnson was
6" "Lyndon Johnson's Great Society-Part II-Civil Rights," audiotape R-1i 126 (LBJ Library).
6r Beschloss, Taking Command, 450.
64 In 1964 SNCC and CORE instituted an effort to increase the voting strength of African
Americans in the South with Freedom Schools to teach people how and why to vote. They also
led African American citizens to the courthouses where they should have been able to vote.
Church burnings, brutality, reprisal, and death were the results Farmer, who marched with
Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and others the week following the confrontation, is one of
many who documented the events of that summer.
"'In the roll call vote, the following Texas congressmen also voted for 1964 civil rights bill:
Chet Brooks, Henry Gonzales, Jake Pickle, and Albert Thomas. Wright Patman, who represented

July

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 November 27, 2014.