The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 22
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Early in the Johnson administration Farmer was welcome at the White
House or was the recipient of a telephone call from the president.55 But
CORE's agitation for the integration of public accommodations and vot-
ing rights, led by Farmer, kept the issue of civil rights in focus for
Johnson and the lawmakers, even as they dampened Johnson's friend-
ship with his fellow Texan.
The president was obsessed with defeating Republican Barry Gold-
water in 1964, so he repeated what Robert Kennedy had asked of
Farmer in 196 1--that there be a "cooling off period" in the Freedom
Rides. To Kennedy Farmer said, "We can't have a cooling off period.
We've been cooling off for 350 years. If we cool off now, we'll be in the
deep freeze." Farmer said essentially the same thing when Johnson
asked his aid in convincing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party,
which sought to be seated at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City
instead of its white counterpart, to accept some sort of compromise. Not
allowed by Mississippi statute to participate in the all-white primary, the
group of African Americans and whites sought support in replacing the
elected Mississippi delegates. Not only did Farmer tell Johnson he did
not have the power to declare a moratorium on efforts to be seated by
the MFDP, he ended up leading the demonstration with members of the
MFDP before the convention hall.56
Zephyr Wright was also convinced of Johnson's commitment to pas-
sage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She said she told people when
asked, as she often was, "'In talking with him, I know he is for all of the
Negro people, and he has done more for them than anyone else.' I
guess because he was a southerner they didn't believe in him.""5
On April 22 Johnson was to make a major address on the civil rights bill
at the New York World's Fair. The day before, Farmer reached Johnson by
telephone to warn him of possible demonstrations over which Farmer
would have no control. In a previous conversation the president said to
Farmer, '"James, this' Lyndon Johnson," and had told Farmer, "you can
call me Lyndon."'58 Farmer, however, continued to address Johnson as
"Mr. President." Nevertheless, the conversation illustrates the closeness
" LBJ's telephone logs as well as records of visitors to the White House confirm Farmer's rec-
ollections. Those records show that Johnson's most frequent visitor among the Big Four was
Whitney Young. Telephone logs, November 1963 to July 2, 1964 (LBJ Library).
56 Farmer, Lay Bare the Heart, 2o6, and author's conversation with Farmer.
,7 Wright to Gillette, Dec. 1974, interview, Tape 1 transcript, 11.
* Telephone tape 2169, 2/24/64, 8.01 P.M., WH6402.2o, PNO 17 (LBJ Library). Johnson
reached Farmer at home regarding Farmer's telegraphed complaint that Mexican braceros were
taking the jobs of poor blacks in Texas and California. Johnson also sought Farmer's approval on
the president's appointment of Sargent Shriver as head of the Antipoverty Program Farmer
called the nomination, "an excellent selection" and Johnson concluded the conversation with
"You let me know if you've got anything I need to know."
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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/m1/50/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.