The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 20

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

bill. One of the methods he used was to try to forestall as much criticism
as possible of either measure. On April 23,1964, Johnson was in
Chicago to make a major speech that would introduce the whole con-
cept of an anti-poverty bill. When it was over, the president called
Moyers to tell him that he had also "put screws" to his Chicago audience
about the importance of getting the civil rights bill passed."
Knowing that too many of his former southern Democratic colleagues
would not support the civil rights bill, Johnson began to court key
Republicans. He needed them not only for the final vote, but more
importantly, to end the filibusters that had killed every attempt at mean-
ingful civil rights legislation in the past. "One man held the key to
obtaining cloture: the minority leader of the Senate, Everett Dirksen,"
Johnson wrote in The Vantage Point. "Without his cooperation we could
not enlist the support of moderate Republicans. And without
Republican support we could not obtain the two-thirds vote necessary
for cloture."'9 Lining up the support of Dirksen and other Republicans
was a task to which Johnson enlisted the civil rights leaders. Farmer
recalls meeting with Johnson on the matter. "Mr. Farmer, I've got to get
this civil rights bill through Congress, and I'm going to do it. If I never
do anything else in my whole life, I'm going to get this job done. It
won't be easy, but I'm going to do it. I have to get some of the
Republicans on my side. You civil rights leaders can help me on that.
You all should tell the Republicans that if they vote for this bill, you'll
tell your people to vote for them. And I think you should, too; if they
vote for this bill. You should tell people to vote for them."50
It was during this meeting, Farmer said, that he got another dose of
"The Johnson Treatment." As Farmer listened, Johnson took a number
of telephone calls from senators and congressmen. "He twisted arms,
threatened and cajoled, and then looked up to make sure I was duly
impressed with his efforts on behalf of the bill."51 At that point in their
relationship, Farmer has said many times, he realized, if he had not
before, that this southern president was truly committed to justice for
all, despite the lack of support from the solid South, including most of
Johnson's Texas. The president made it clear that he was counting on
Farmer's assistance. It was a stark contrast, according to Farmer, to the
reception he received two years earlier from President Kennedy. As the
old civil rights leader described the scene at the annual meeting of the
11 Recorded conversation of Johnson and Moyers at 10 50 p m CST Monday, April 28, 1964,
telephone tapes 3125, 4/23/64 6:36, WH64o4.12 PNO 5 (LBJ Library).
4Johnson, The Vantage Poznt, 158.
iO Farmer, Lay Bare the Heart, 293.
'' Ibid., 294


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.