The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 7
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The Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 19 64
the White House in 1963. Moyers' face, with black, horn-rimmed glass-
es, can be seen behind Johnson's left shoulder on Air Force One as
Judge Sarah T. Hughes administered the oath of office to Johnson fol-
lowing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22,
1963.1 Writers, particularly reporters and other Johnson staff members,
place Moyers deep in the inner circle. He was one of the southern liber-
als in the administration, a gifted wordsmith, and the only member of
Johnson's staff who had a good relationship with the Kennedys.14 His
official title was special assistant, and in that position he coordinated leg-
islation-primarily on domestic issues-wrote speeches, and, according
to reporter Hugh Sidey and another special assistant, Eric Goldman, was
the only staff member who could say "No" to Johnson, particularly on
domestic matters. A lengthy essay on Moyers in The President's Men indi-
cates that Moyers was one of the most able and influential presidential
assistants in the long history of the office. Coincidentally, Sidey,
Anderson, Goldman, and others say the only person other than Moyers
who would say "No" to the president was his wife, Lady Bird.15
Critics of the Johnson administration seem to agree that Moyers was
ambitious but modest, and that his political beliefs drew in large part
from his theological training and small town nurturing. "I had a gentle
upbringing and gentle parents. I think I had basic humanitarian impuls-
es, but I had no political philosophy. I think my political philosophy grew
out of my religious training," he said. Basic to that philosophy, one critic
wrote, "was a belief that the duty of government was to do God's work on
earth-and that God, in fixing His political priorities, is not overly con-
cerned with the doctrine of State's Rights, the sanctity of private proper-
ty, or other matters that might impede the state's concern for the care of
human life and happiness."16 Before Moyers left the White House he also
served as press secretary to the president. He eventually departed in 1967
and rarely discusses those years, including the reason for his leaving,
especially for publication. He is one of the few who served in the Johnson
administration who has yet to write a book about his stint in public office.
Zephyr Black Wright knew Bill Moyers, and, while she may never have
met James Farmer Jr., she undoubtedly knew who he was and that he
1 Bill Moyers to Gall K Bell, October 16, 1983, interview, notes m author's possession.
1. See references m Jack Valenti, A Very Human President (New York: W. W. Norton & Co.,
1975); Liz Carpenter, Ruffles and Flourinshes (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1970;
reprint, 1981); Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Dzary (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1970); Hugh Sidey, A Very Personal President: Lyndon B. Johnson (New York: Antheneum, 1965),
calls Johnson and Moyers almost "father and son," 1 o8, and says no man was closer to Johnson
than Moyers, 251
15 Patrick Anderson, The President's Men (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1969),
'6 Ibid., 325
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/35/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.