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tv   President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr.  CSPAN  January 11, 2015 8:00am-9:01am EST

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>> good afternoon.
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i had the great honor of chairing the lyndon b johnson foundation for 30 years. among the finest achievements that current chairman larry temple and i claim is that we recruited mark updegrove as the director of this lbj library and this three-day program is a terrific tribute to mark and his wonderful staff. mark, stand please. [applause]. >> from 1965 until the end of his term i served as an aide to president johnson. on april 4 1968 i had the sad duty of taking a flash associated press message into the oval office and handed it to president johnson that read dr. martin
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luther king has been shot in memphis. our world changed that tragic day. president johnson had enormous respect for dr. king. they worked closely together to pass the civil rights act, the voting rights act what we are celebrating this week, 50 years later. our panelists to discuss the relationship between these two men is about as good as it gets. first, doris concerns goodwin a pulitzer prize winning author a former member of the lbj white house staff and one of the first members of the white house fellows program that was created by president johnson and by john gardener. joe califano, who served as domestic affairs advisor better put domestic affairs
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czar for prejudice from 1965 to 1969. ambassador andrew young one of dr. king's very closest aides the first african-american united states congressman elected from the deep south since reconstruction. appointed by president carter as united states ambassador to the united nations. and mayor of my city of atlanta from 1982 until 1990. taylor branch, paul pulitzer prize winning author best known for his writings on civil rights, his book, parting the waters, america in the king years won the pulitzer in 1989. our moderator today is todd purdum, a contributing editor at vanity fair, a senior editor at politico. he recently published a book, an idea whose time has
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come two presidents two parties and the battle for the civil rights act of 1964. ladies and gentlemen please welcome todd purdum, doris kearns good win, taylor branch, joseph califano andrew young and. [applause]. and >> thank you very much tom and mark and the entire staff of theson library and johnson foundation. it's wonderful to be here. i i want to this be a wonderful conversation and i have only one thing to say to my fellow panelists no fillibusters. with that said i think it's fair to say that lyndon baines johnson and martin luther king were two of the
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most colossal figures of the 20th century. bill moyers, johnson's long time aide said that the president was 13 of the most complex and interesting and difficult men he had ever met. [laughter] stan 11 son dr. king's close aide said he was anything but the plaster saint that white america so wanted him to be. so i thought that we might begin our discussion today not at the beginning of the civil rights bill, but at the end on july fourth 1964, because i think this exchange offers a little bit of a window into the complexity of their personalities and their relationship. it was the fourth of july, president johnson had come home to texas after signing the bill two days before and he seized on a quote from his press secretary that he had been in continual touch with dr. king. why do you say that, johnson said? that's the last thing the president has been in continual touch with dr. king. ready said he said i've seen from time to time dr. king why do you say that, johnson demanded.
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well, he said, you saw him at the ceremony. i say, why do you say it? because i was asked, because they had seen you there. i'm sorry he was there johnson said. it was very unfortunate he was there and don't you get hung in on it. so i was struck by listening to that tape and reading those words that on the moment of the president's greatest triumph he would have such complex feelings about dr. king all of you have explored that question. can i start with you ambassador young what was the nature of president johnson's intense and let's say brief partnership with dr. king? >> well, i don't think it was that brief but it was very intense. and i think he was very warm and personal. whenever i went with them there was never an argument, no tension. there was gentlemen's disagreement. dr. king saw himself as having to keep the pressure on. and let me just end with the story that when we left
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before the voting rights act -- right after the nobel prize, president johnson talked for an hour about why he didn't have the power to introduce voting rights legislation in 1965 and gave very good reasons, but he kept saying i just don't have the power. i wish i did. when we left, i asked dr. king, well what did you think? he said i think we have to figure out a way to get this president some power. [laughter] and i thought at the time that it was awful arrogant of him to say that. except that we had not been back in atlanta for three days before amelia boynton came over from selma with a report on the voting atrocities in selma and pleading with dr. king you've got to come help us in selma.
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and this was not anything we were aware of or planned. it was thrust upon us and we went to selma on the second of january and by the end of march the president had all the power he needed to get that voting rights act introduced. >> i want to get to selma in a minute. i know joe has something to say about that. but if i could just start by asking you taylor, lyndon johnson's views on race evolved over time and i think when he became president in the wake of the tragedy of the assassination a lot of civil rights groups were not so sure of his record. after all, he was most known to many people at that point for having watered down the 57 and 60 bills to get them passed the first laws since reconstruction. but what was the arc of his consciousness on the question of race and the necessity of comprehensive civil rights law? >> i don't think i know him well enough to say that and i certainly wouldn't presume that the arc is measured by his voting record. his voting record is a practical thing.
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i think you might even be able to argue that his views on race were fixed when he was teaching in cotulla or even before that when he taught drama in the 1920's by teaching people first of all to make animal noises and be comfortable exposing themselves in front of other people and getting out of their self consciousness about being around other people and getting a sense of exposing yourself to different kinds of people. i think johnson had an enormous empathy his whole lifetime and practical politics made it impossible for that to express itself until he got close to the white house. well certainly in the 57 bill. so i think that's a mystery with the man in public life as long as he was. it presents a mystery looking back on it, did he suddenly have a conversion which i think is the common view of it, to take his earlier votes as reflecting
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his inner feelings. and that's really hard to reconcile with the sustained -- nominating thurgood marshall in the middle of the vietnam war i think that that tends to show the longevity of that record through the upheaval and the backlash against civil rights, show that those were probably his sincere views, and my guess is that they were formed long before it is popular to believe they were there. >> george one of the revolutions to doing this book and you know both families both men is john kennedy's acquaintance with black people is limited to his two valets and to the leaders of the movement himself. johnson had known personal pryvation he had known what hate can do to the eyes of a child in cotulla. what was your experience with him in his own discussions about these questions and how they came to us? >> i have no doubt. i only knew him really in the last years of his life in 1967 until he died.
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but there was no question the time i spent with him in the white house and then on the ranch he was proudest of civil rights of anything he had ever done. and he knew that it would stand the test of time. my sense is that once he became president he had the power and he had always wanted to do more than he could do. just as taylor said, he was stuck. and it was right to represent the state of texas. he is a texas senator he's a texas congressman but once he moved -- i don't think it was just john kennedy's death, although that gave him an opening. i don't think it was just the movement was out there although that's huge. i think what you said mr. ambassador, and what you've pointed out in this tension between martin luther king and lbj is a tension from the movement of the outside that's pushing to the government from the outside in and there's a president that knows he needs the movement, but there will be tension. no president wants pressure from the outside. the same tension existed
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between lien cool and frederick -- lincoln and frederick douglas. eventually they became very good friends and lincoln understood that he needed frederick douglas and the abolitionists just as lbj needed the civil rights movement. and together martin luther king and lbj produced something, thank god they were there at that moment in history that changed our country forever. >> secretary califano -- [applause]. what would your perspective be on their relationship? you had the good or bad luck to be there when the relationship dissolved in a way. >> well, i think that at both ends, i don't know that dissolved in the sense that martin luther king made a decision about the vietnam war and this was the greatest hair shirt that johnson had to wear during all those years. i think he admired king. i think they were both quite
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good at politics. i mean, you said i wanted to mention selma and andrew did. january of '65 -- '64 rather, in a phone conversation one of these wonderful taped phone conversations between king and the president johnson johnson starts talking about -- '65, i'm sorry about the voting rights act. and king reminds him that the five southern states he didn't carry had the lowest voting record. and then johnson says to king now this -- if you can find the worst condition -- this is january 15th 1965. the worst condition run into in alabama mississippi, louisiana, south carolina, where people were denied the right to vote to cast a vote if you just take that one illustration get it on the radio get it on
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television get it in the pulpits, get it in the meetings, every place you can, then pretty soon the fellow who didn't do anything but drive a tractor would say well that's not right. that's not fair. that will help us for what we're going to shove through in the end. [laughter]. and king says that's right. and if we do that, johnson said, we'll break through. it will be the greatest break through of anything. this was the voting rights act. not even excepting the '64 act. i think the greatest achievement of my administration the greatest achievement in foreign policy was the passage of the 1964 civil rights act but i think this will be bigger because it will do things that even the '64 act couldn't do. incredible. a partnership between these two guys that, i mean, was wonderful and idealistic and what have you but very
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practical. king i think as you indicated, knew what he was doing. johnson wanted him to do it. there's always, you don't like the pressure. and the other wonderful exchange here is johnson says talk about the right to vote, don't talk about the right to vote for negroes talk about the right to vote for everybody. >> he had another marvelous thing the weekend the bill was signed. he called john connally and said don't talk about enforcing it, that makes people's hack he wills go up, talk about obeying it. >> and the meat of the coconut. that was one of his great metaphors. lbj had these incredible metaphors the meat in the coconut. that's what the voting rights act would be. >> and i would like you to contrast president kennedy's relationship with dr. king. it was said they had a prickly relationship that kennedy thought he was preachy and starchy and they didn't relate at the point of human discourse. it seems that it might have served them well in a way. >> it's just being southern.
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[laughter] >> is that earth thinkness? [laughter] >> president kennedy as you say really did not understand the south or our race. and president johnson understood it all too well. and dr. king would say when i talk to president kennedy he asked questions for an hour but when i go to see president johnson he talks for an hour. [laughter] he said he knows what he wants to do and he knows what -- he said, i don't have to convince him of anything, but i think their only tension was i think johnson would have liked to have taken the poverty program aid to education all of those issues first and then come back to voting. and that was one point of tension. we didn't really have that
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choice. i mean we didn't like the sit-ins, you know? we didn't like the back of the bus. there would have been much more relevant issues, but we were subject to the pressures of the people. and -- i mean, there was so much going on. well we saw it on bloody sunday. >> yes. >> that was a nazilike community. >> you have said that the movement in the streets and the grassroots effort that was so widespread across the country was drafting the '64 bill azurely as the all white lawyers in the justice department and the white house and the congress were doing that. but the truth is the people in the end who did the legislative scut work on the bill were overwhelmingly white men at the time when there were five black members of congress. doris, could you -- >> well except that they had been 30 or 40 years of
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work at howard university, yale, pennsylvania and the law schools had basically patterned, fashioned the path to freedom. and there was probably more tension between martin luther king and thurgood marshall than there was between martin luther king and lyndon johnson because thurgood marshall did not -- he felt very uncomfortable with us breaking the law. the concept of civil disobedience was not something he adhered to. but actually the first time i read an article about civil disobedience was written by harris wofford in the howard university law review. and i always thought he was black. [laughter] >> you know, but it's that famous exchange between roy wilkins and dr. king about wilkins demanding to know just what have you desegregated martin and he said maybe only a few human
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hearts. and apparently one of the hearts was john kennedy in the spring of 1963. >> i would like to say he was moved by dr. king's words and example in the movement but the fact of the matter is after birmingham the demonstrations spread to over 200 cities like wildfire, all over. president kennedy said there were even demonstrations on military bases overseas. and we're either going to put it out one at a time risking something that makes us look bad in the world or we will have to bite the bullet. so i think that it was -- the movement, the sympathetic demonstrations that spread from birmingham created the pressure that pushed kennedy to give that speech. on the other hand, that speech ought to be much more iconic than it is. right now it ranks way behind ask not what you do for your country, but we are confronted primarily with the moral issue. it is as olds as the
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scriptures and clear as the u.s. constitution is what dr. king had been asking him to say. that was a shining movement and the night edgar medgars was killed. i think it was an isolated moment and a combination of it was not written. he decided to do it that afternoon and was still writing it -- >> exactly. >> it was impromptu. and in some senses it came from the heart and that's one of the best thing you can say about that. that his highest speech came from the heart and the pressures of the movement, but the pressures were severe. and he was cutting loose from the democratic southern base that had anchored democrats in the white house for a century. and he knew that, but he did it with very fine words. >> i think i was general counsel of the army at the time of the '63 march and initially robert kennedy, who john douglas was his
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representative and cy vance, secretary of the army we met -- john douglas and i met with two others and bobby kennedy did not want the march to take place vance did not want the march to take place. the kennedys saw this as a political issue. there was no -- i mean, bobby kennedy was really tough on this, but we came back from that meeting and said this march is going to happen. and at that point there was terrible concern about the march. just to give you a sense we had military people and muftee and the crowd, we closed all the liquor stores in washington. we literally called hotels to tell them you need to cancel events. we don't want anybody to stay overnight. come and go, in and out. we can't take the chance.
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we asked the hotels to impose outrageous prices for their rooms. i got in an argument with the cardinal in washington because the catholic church was providing cots. we didn't want any cots in the gyms. [laughter]. it really gave you a sense that i watched them march with vance in the army war room film. we had people on top of the lincoln memorial. it was all really scared about violence violence, violence. and sort of something nobody really wanted. if only these guys -- if only king wouldn't do this. if only these guys -- we even had john lewis who will be here this afternoon had a stinging speech attacking kennedy and we did everything we could to put the heat on lewis to tone it down. [laughter] >> because the archbishop was going to get upset. >> and i think that march had a profound impact on
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everybody in the government. i mean, i began to see things change dramatically but i will say, still sitting in the pentagon then within a month after johnson became president the government changed. i mean, the pressure to do civil rights -- you know better than i do, taylor, but it was in his gut. it was really in his gut. >> doris, if i could ask you about that because here in this wonderful institution with no disrespect to president johnson's clausal role in this bill, it's fair to say that many other people in congress had a hand in it too and we forget and probably president johnson will be eager to remind us what a crucial role the republicans played, for example, but i think it's less well-known that in the senate particularly the president was haling. you can read in the transcripts he was chomping at the bit at mike mansfield and hubert humphrey wanting them to hold the senate
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around the clock. and they wanted the senators to talk and exhaust themselves. what discipline must it have taken him to restrain himself control himself and not apply the johnson treatment willy-nilly as part of getting the bill done. >> that shows extraordinary understanding of the congress. he knew for a certain period of time he had to trust his leaders there particularly hubert humphrey who did an extraordinary job during all of this. he would call when he needed to. the discussions with dirkson are just fabulous. you come with me on this bill and two hundred years from now they will know only two names, abraham lincoln and edgar dirkson. and the naacp will be flying your barn. but just to go back to what we were saying before, i think that tension between a social movement, pushing at a president, is the best moment in our american history, the progressive movement pushed it, teddy
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roosevelt, the backritionists pushed abraham lincoln and the civil rights movement pushed kennedy and johnson. that's where the change takes place, the women's movement the civil rights moviemovement and you need a president open to that. and i think even though jfk had started to be open to it after that march, what you needed was somebody who was going to put it at the top of his agenda and that's what lbj did. he was able to understand that he could say in his first speech to congress no memorial would matter to jfk more than the passage of the civil rights bill. so he used that whole feeling towards jfk and his death to help him but then it became his thing. and when you have a leader the stature of martin luther king when you have an andrew young, we were lucky to have those moments ai said before in history. those generations don't only exist. god all mighty we need one now a generation of those kind of leaders. [applause]. >> i think these two men
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knew each other even the week before the president declined to run again. i heard them on the phone talking like brothers like pastor and member. and yet in the midst of this you had two alien forces, i think dividing them. one was j edgar hoover and the other was what i called the harvard mafia that -- >> i thought you were going to say vietnam. >> that's the harvard mafia. >> the best and brightest. [laughter] >> i didn't realize until nick cots book that write about bloody sunday was the overthrow of one of the governments in vietnam and johnson was not focused on
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vietnam at all he was trying to deal with selma and mcnamara said why don't we send in two battalions. and johnson said we cannot win this war. and mcnamara's answer is nobody will know. everybody is concerned about -- we'll at least fly the flag. but he was lured into vietnam. and one of the reasons why dr. king stood up against the war in vietnam was he thought he was standing with president johnson. because president johnson would say to him over the phone look, they're trying to get me to bomb this, they're trying to get me to do that. you don't know the job i have standing up against the generals. they want more troops, they want -- and so he felt that plus the meeting with tricknothan who explained to him the buddhist position of the tension between the vietnamese and the chinese.
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and ironically the one war i had to mediate at the u.n. was between china and vietnam. and so they were wrong about vietnam. and we knew it and nobody would admit it. and that i think plus -- and i still don't understand what hoover's motivation was. but he had a sicken i have or hatred of martin luther king. >> let me just put in two points. on hoover i remember i was then bob mcnamara's assistant in the pentagon and hoover sent out this memo describing dr. king to all the cabinet officers. unbelievable. but you're right about the selma thing. after bloody sunday when the march resumed johnson sent troops, we nationalized the guard so that we could protect the marchers.
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i was -- my instruction was to send memos to the white house every two hours. about those marchs. and they're actually -- >> you can read them. >> you can read them. they're actually on the lbj library tapes. every two hours where they were, how far they had gotten. i sent them to jack volente who would bring them into the president. the questions would come back. he just didn't -- he was so focused on selma and on that march working, it was really quite remarkable. >> i think one of the things that people forget if they are not familiar with the period is how many things were achieved as he pointed out the assassination of met gar evers happened just hours after the speech. senator kennedy was in the terrible plane crash on the night the senate passed the bill. your head spins with all the things the president is dealing with. but it was remarkable how
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unwilling president johnson was for such a famous wheeler dealer to wheel and deal. he was sent away in 20 minutes empty handed. there's a marvelous exchange on the tapes where johnson tells humphrey i'm against these amendments. i will be against them right up until i sign them! [laughter] he never did have to sign them. but the other poignant part taylor is that the signing of the bill and the passage of the '64 act together with '65 but it really represents a kind of water mark of consensus. and just weeks later with the nomination of barry goldwater in san francisco the republicans begin their long transformation of identity and in atlantic city the conflict between the mississippi freedom democratic party and the regular democratic party give president johnson incredible heartburn around heartache. talk a little bit about how even in the wake of the signing of the bill the good feeling and consensus that had made it possible began to dissipate. >> i think we have to look at this period with a sense
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of history that is rare. 50 years ago there wasn't a republican in congress from texas to the atlantic ocean. it was the solid south. and 80% of republicans in both houses of congress voted for the civil rights act of 1964. but at the same time with goldwater announcing his opposition to the bill and johnson pushing the bill forward, you added something unprecedent in history which is that the parties reversed abruptly their 100-year-old position on race which has always been the litmus test of democracy in america. and it switched. nothing but race -- try to imagine something today that could happen in politics that next year would have republicans voting democrat and democrats voting republican. i grew up in atlanta. we didn't even know any republicans. [laughter] they were polar bears, they were yanks. >> not true. >> there was black and tan. >> actually, when i went to
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georgia in 1954 they asked me to run a voter registration drive to support eisenhauer. and i said but i'm a stephenson supporter. they said not here. [laughter]. they said in georgia if stephenson wins, richard russell appoints the federal judges. if eisenhauer wins, we get to nominate the judges. and the whole bevy of southern judges that really saved the nation were all republican appointees. >> but what i'm saying is that there's this -- as an historian and i'm so glad the lbj library has all those amazing tapes of johnson because i guarantee you if those tapes didn't exist there would be -- people would be pushing a consensus that johnson never had his heart in any of those things because if there's one thing that overshadowed the tendency of race to determine how we perform, it's our tendency
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to misremember race. i was brought up taught that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery. people want to misremember it. and those tapes preserve the intimacy of johnson's feelings in ways that i think will resist that. and we really need a balance again about how -- i think race johnson shows that race was the gateway the civil rights bill, to broader freedoms for lots of other people. it opened the door for the women's movement, for all kinds of disability movement things that are hard to imagine that back then women couldn't serve on juries and women couldn't dream of going to the ivy league schools, let alone west point. and all those doors opened in the the wake of going through the gate of race. but at the same time people started wanting to misremember it and say this was a bad time. president clinton told me once in one of our interview sessions that he could predict how people were going to vote with 85% accuracy by asking one question, do you think the
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60's on balance were good or bad for america? and that is the reinterpretation of all this when in fact i think andy and johnson the civil rights leaders, were in the role of modern founding fathers. they were confronting subjugation and setting in motion equal citizenship, but we don't remember it that way always. that's why i think this 50th anniversary is such a great opportunity to get the memory more in balance of what really happened. [applause]. >> there's no question that i think for historians 200 years from now those tapes will still be the gold star because you understand where the president is coming from, you understand where the people he's talking to are coming from. i'll never forget years later i met this man named don kindle the ceo of pepsi cola. and he told me i know you knew johnson when he was a young girl but i bet you
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don't know the following story. he told me when nixon was first made president he, kindle, was told to go to the randolph air force base to talk to johnson. and johnson was saying how am i going to remember anything. he said i have these tape machines and i have verbatim conversations. those chapters come out great. you tell your good friend nixon there's nothing more important than a taping system. [laughter] and there by he contributes to the downfall of his good friend richard nixon. >> that lapse in historical judgment notwithstanding president johnson was telling bill moyers that just the change you talked about was coming. but doris you've written about how he said he felt he had to get civil rights to establish his credibility so he could then do the things of the great society that were so important to him to push the freedom envelope further to push opportunity even further. i wonder joe if you could talk a little bit about did
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dr. king give him credit for that and you too, mr. ambassador for doing that? they were obviously on the same page, they were divided later by vietnam and hoover but did dr. king give him credit? >> i think andy can answer that better than i can. i don't think he was -- relevant is the wrong word, but he certainly wasn't involved when you look at everything from head start to the secretary of education higher education the food stamp program medicare, medicaid and what have you. and i think it's important to know race was an issue in those great society programs because something you may remember adam clayton powell, we couldn't get the elementary and secondary education act through. there were two problems. one was the catholics wanted help for pa reasonable accommodationial schools and the evangelicals and the
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secular jews didn't want help for those schools and both had the power to block it. but johnson saw as a killer problem the congress began to look at this as a black bill, the poor schools. that incidentally, for those of you who go back that far is why he told adam clayton powell you have to get out of town. powell went to bimini, never recovered from that, but -- and then moved to ucari irish congressman from new york. johnson did not want black involvement in that legislation in any public way. carey came up with the idea of leasing books and things the bill passes the house johnson says call speaker mccormick, tell him not to send the bill here for
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another month because i want to sign it on hugh carey's birthday. he figured this out. and he had the bill come over. i don't think it was -- i don't think it was that king wasn't interested. you can answer that part of it but i surely know that we were constantly worried that people would see these great society programs aimed at the poor on a race basis. >> and we didn't want that either. and i think the last gathering we had dr. king brought together 23 different minority groups four, five different hispanic groups, poor whites from appalachia and the poor whites movement. and the idea of the great society campaign was -- we knew segregation was about race, but we didn't even think voting rights was just
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a racial issue. and i to this day think that president johnson knew poverty and knew the poor and he had taught kids who came to school hungry. and those were the people he was most concerned. he was probably -- i think dr. king thought he was more concerned about the poor than the vote. and i think that he was probably wrong -- he was right in saying that we would lose the south but we've had four southern presidents since the voting rights act. clinton, carter, bush and of course johnson himself, but we haven't lost the south. and the south is going to rise again. [laughter] [applause].
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on november fourth we'll see another new south. >> all right. hooray! >> we tend to forget how intertwined the question of economic fairness and economic justice always was in the civil rights movement the march on washington was the march for jobs and freedom. when president kennedy proposed the bill he cited these statistics that harris wofford had worked up for him between a black and white baby born in the same place on the same day. and on questions of opportunities and life expectantty, blacks are doing much better today than in 1963 but in questions of lifetime earning power, economic power it's distressingly almost identical. what do you think both dr. king and president johnson would have made of this enduring gap and what do you think we as a country today can do about it? >> i just want to point out on the life expectancy the real promoter of that was medicaid not medicare not high-tech medicine. giving the poor people
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health care. dramatically. the black life expectancy went from just over 40 to 60 plus within a few years. they are entwined. >> no, i think that now i'm holding this social security card with my picture on it. >> you look cute. [laughter] >> because there are things that we would -- we need to do. we need to make the vote more accessible. and a social security card with your picture on it is something that you need to get in a hotel, you need to get on an airplane you need a government-issued id. and the social security administration could do it for nine cents apiece. and it would do a lot to save money if the government began to send its money
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through banking channels. it would put a lot more money in the bank. if we really wanted to make government efficient -- and i think those are the kinds of things that dr. king and president johnson were interested in. they weren't just interested in the show, they were interested in the delivery and how do you wipe out poverty. you can't just -- dr. king at one point said a guaranteed annual income. just give people money and give them a chance, that wouldn't fly too well in today's world but we still have to have a way to make democracy and free enterprise work for poor people of all dollars. >> taylor and doris i would like to ask you both tomorrow morning a young fellow who was -- received the nomination for president
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august 28th, what would have been president johnson's 100th birthday and i remember that president johnson's name was not mentioned, white house aides tell me that president obama's general reaction to comparisons between his situation and president johnson's is yada yada yada. so since you are a professional historians and i'm just a journalist writing about history who could easy be ignored i want to ask you what could president obama profitably take away from president johnson and his relationship with dr. king and the world they faced? and is there anything that could be comparable any instruction we could take in the present day from president johnson about how to get something done? >> well, i think he could say first off he needs to get 67 senators. >> you only need 60 now. >> yeah, which he doesn't have. and in that sense -- and to change the mood of the country from cynicism to optimism is not something that is wholly within the
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purview of the president. in that sense i think that president obama is fair to say it's a totally different environment and atmosphere. on the other hand, i wish he talked more about race and how it contributed when we deal honestly with it not to become the issue that dwarfs all others, but is a way that helps inform all the others. we go nuts whenever he even mentions anything. there was a quote in the "new york times" saying that his comment about trayvon martin betrayed the great promise of america, which is never to discuss race. never to discuss race turns american history and politics into a fairy tale. and i do think obama is a little too captive in that but he is facing a gridlock where -- that is not comparable to what president johnson had. and that was because of two things. world war ii and the great optimism that came out of that, we're going to go to the moon we're going to lick polio we were optimistic. and the civil rights
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movement had been building up an optimistic, patriotic sense of sacrifice from the brown vision for years into the 60's that made people say, well maybe something good happened, can happen when we confront knees intractable problems. so obama has neither of those major advantages so i think that it's unfair to look to the president to do all of it. the great moment for dr. king to me with president johnson was after selma they had a phone conversation where johnson says to dr. king i couldn't have done anything until you got down there and mobilized the people and there were nuns flying in in from everywhere into selma and the whole mood of the country changed. your movement aroused them so that i could go before congress in that night session. he said that was about the greatest thing that ever happened. and king is saying absolutely right. an aroused responsible citizenry with an optimistic, patriotic agenda getting responsive government that's what america is about. so it's not all up just to
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president obama it's up to us too. >> i think there's two major changes in our political culture today that make it much harder for president obama than it was for president johnson. one is that in the old days they used to stay in washington together on the weekends. they formed friendships over party lines. they weren't rushing home to raise money for these escalating campaign costs which i still am convinced are the poison in the system today. [applause]. i shouldn't say stupid people but how much time our congressmen and senators spend raising money and going back to do it rather than doing the business of the country. and television access certify bates it. they want museum on either side districting exacerbates it. they look at each other with tribal alliances now rather than friendships. i think the bully pulpit makes it harder today. that if the president gives a speech it used to be covered on all three networks. everybody watched it. now you have the pundits like us sometimes tearing it
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apart before it's even begun and you've got people watching their own cable networks only seeing a part of the speech. so all of those things are true, but i think the one thing that president obama can do now which goes to the heart of lbj and what you were talking about with a mixture between poverty and race, when he talks about the defining issue of our time being the gap between the rich and the poor and the lack of mobility. president johnson in his howard university speech talked about you can't just bring people to the starting race and -- gate and think they'll have an equal chance for the race. that opportunity has to be deeply built into the society. when we see now that in our country the people born in the bottom fifth have a less chance of getting up beyond that then people in europe, this was the promise of america that if you worked hard you would be able to mobilize through the society. and i think obama has recognized that, he's talked about that, and it should be the defining issue. and in the end dr. king was talking about poverty. that was the whole movement was economic opportunity was
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the next step after civil rights. and boy do we need that now. [applause]. >> it's very hard, though. as mayor i could never talk about race in atlanta. but looking back, everything i did to help people helped black and white together. now, you don't see that at the time but i don't think i ever cast a vote in all of my political career that just helped black people. that every vote i cast helped 10 times as many blacks as whites. and we've got to deracialize these issues to get people to look at them a bit more objectively. because the stabbing in the schools today just before we got here, 19 kids stabbed. that's not race. that's a culture of violence. it's a sickness that is
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pervading our society that's far more complicated than anything dr. king and president johnson had to deal with. bernice king is dealing with it in the school name for her mother where she went in to a rough neighborhood and declared -- got the girls there in this middle school to say we're going to try 100 days of non-violence. and she made it work. but this was a rough school that the teachers could not handle but going in talking about non-violence in a public school, it was all black. it is something -- we've got to deal with the culture of violence. the things that president carter talked about the fact that there are more spousal abuses, murders than there are in the wars nowadays. more domestic violence than military killings. i mean that is a sickness
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in society that we've got to somehow find a way to face. it's not what it used to be. >> mr. secretary, you're last up. >> i'm last up. i want to just say one thing about violence. i cannot resist the fact but remember alcohol and drugs, but particularly alcohol is involved in about three-fourths of the rapes in this country and of the instances of domestic violence so we have a hell of a lot of problems to do with that. it has nothing to do with race. i think there are some lessons for president obama. i guess i disagree a little bit here. i think one is it's important to recognize which johnson did, when you sign a law, that's the beginning. that's not the end. when he signed the voting rights act, he announced that the justice department was filing suit the next morning to have the
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mississippi poll tax declared unconstitutional. we sent scores of monitors into the other southern states. secondly i think there are opportunities of various kinds. and i'd say i think -- maybe this is something to mention especially with dr. king, johnson was very opportunistic in the best way. he was open poor tunistic -- open poor tunistic in using the kennedy assassination in his ability to get the act passed. when martin luther king was assassinated that night, that night he said to me we're going to get one good thing out of this horrible act. we'll get the fair housing bill. we've been trying for four years to get it. he wanted a draft letter the next morning, which he sent to the speaker of the house. he sent a handwritten note to jerry ford, the minority leader of the house to get that bill passed. when report kennedy was
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killed, he said we're going to get our gun control bill. we didn't get all of it. we got about half of it. we're going to get it. we're going to get something good out of it. i think there is -- there should be some use of this in a much more opportunistic way. and a much more immediate way. that's the last point i would make. you have to go fast. i know -- i thank god we have president obama in the white house. i wish he had moved on gun control with that lame duck session he would have gotten a gun control bill. he waited a couple of months to look at it. you can't. and if we had problems then we're in a world -- you live in it more than any of us, i guess, with your reporting. we have 30-second attention spans. and lastly and i just -- i think obama, one of the problems he has is because
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he is black. i think there are a lot of people -- [applause]. let's be realistic about this. i think there still is a lot of resentment about that among people in congress among people all over this country. and we've got to get over that. we've really got to get over that. [applause]. >> in that context it does seem worth remembering in this room that president johnson's last public appearance was on this stage in this room at a conference on civil rights marking the opening of some of the civil rights papers here in this library. and on that day he said nothing was more close to his heart nothing was more essentially him. and he also famously said that whites stand on history's mountain and blacks in history's hole low and the challenge for america was to stand blacks and whites on level ground. i'm honored to be part of this discussion today but i think your discussion has
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shown that the work president johnson so negotiablely began 50 years ago is not over and thank you all for all you do to keep the ball rolling. [applause]. screeria -- nigeria. - >> with live coverage of the c-span house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2, we complement that coverage by showing you public hearings and events. c-span 2 is home of american history tv including six unique series, the civil war visiting battlefields and key events. american artifacts touring museums and sites to discover what artifacts reveals ant america's past. american bookshelf, the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of the
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commander in chief. and our new series, "reel america" featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s to the '70s. c-span 3. created by the cable tv industry and funded by local cable or satellite provider. watch us on tv follow us on twitter and find us on facebook. american artifacts visits museums and historic places. founded in 1923, the museum of the city of new york's collection contains 750,000 objects. we visited to learn about the exhibit, guilded new york. >> my name is janine solino and i'm one of the co-curators of guilded new york, fashion, society, and culture being shown here at the museum of the city of new york, a show that happened in november of 2013 and
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closes in october of 2014. in those beautiful little jewel box gallery, we assembled a variety of objects that helped the public to appreciate what life was like for the 1% in the original guilded age the period that followed the civil war from about the 1880s through about 1910. and that period was characterized by great wealth kind of like the dot-com people of our own era but in those days the money came from industries, mining railroads, melting iron, and also the rise of the modern corporation. all those businesses yielded enormous wealth. at the same time that there was mass integration to the area, a time when new york was unified by all of the boroughs and the population was over 3.5 million. with all that mixture of people coming to the lower class, the
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rising upper class, there was a way to set oneself apart. the .1% of people decided to move up fifth avenue, establish their beautiful homes, import all of the greatest works they could in europe, and hire the great american architects to design their homes and add the beauty within them and fashion their clothes and live their own beautiful life. >> our contemporary public is absolutely mesmerized by those who are glamorous and rich and famous and beautiful. and most of the materials in this gallery were owned by individuals who everybody emulated in their day. so from our perspective we, in our egocentric manner think that we've invented the cult of
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celebrity and the cult of glamor. and i think it's very important to know that owe contrary, we didn't do it, there was an echelon of social figures and theatrical figures who were constantly who were in the press, who are constantly interviewed and whose clothes and jewels were described in great detail in the latter part of the 19th century and the public followed them just as feverishly as our public flows our contemporary celebrities. >> it was given as a gift by a wealthy industrialist to an orthopedic surgeon. >> you've been watching a preview of our weekly half-hour american artifacts program. visit c monday night on "the communicators," martin cooper,
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inventor of the cell phone for the growing needs of mobile phone service providers. >> the technology is includes a whole bunch of things. it includes -- i know you heard a lot about that. and it includes some new technology that's just starting to become laboratory available. we can use satellite to travel the world and they'll know whether they'll interfere with anybody else. you put all these things together, i hesitate to tell you how more efficient it would be. he would laugh me out of this room. but we're talking not about tens of times improvement or hundreds or thousands, but millions of times improvement. and that's not as crazy as it
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sounds because from the time of then until now we're more efficient than we were in marconi's time. the thought of being a million times more efficient in the next 20 or 30 years is not as crazy as it sounds. they also discuss the document's influence on american law. the two men spoke at the library of congress where a 13th century copy of the magna carta is on display. king john signed the document under pressure. american revolutionaries looked to the right guaranteed by the magna carta as they rebelled against the english crown. this is 40 minutes.


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