tv President Johnson Address on Civil Disorder and Kerner Commission CSPAN July 23, 2017 8:12pm-8:31pm EDT
american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. announcer: next on american history tv's railamerica, we continue our look at the 1967 detroit riots. president lyndon johnson delivered an oval office address to the american people on july 27, 1967 near the end of a week of widespread disorder and violence. president johnson announced the formation of a national advisory commission on civil disorders, also known as the kerner commission, to investigate the causes of uprisings in many cities that summer. he also details his legislative efforts to address poverty and discrimination. president johnson: my fellow americans, we have endured a week such as no nation should live through. a time of violence and tragedy.
for a few minutes tonight, i want to talk about that tragedy and i want to talk about the deeper questions that it raises for us all. i am tonight appointing a special advisory commission on civil disorders. the governor of illinois has agreed to serve as chairman. mayor john lindsay of new york will serve as the vice chairman. it's other members will include fred harris, senator from oklahoma, edward w brooks, united states senator from massachusetts, the united states representative from california 22nd district los angeles, the u.s. representative from the state of ohio fourth district, the president of the united steelworkers, charles b. thornton, the director and chairman of the board of litman
industries incorporated, roy wilkins, the executive director of the naacp, the commissioner of commerce for the state of kentucky, herbert jenkins, the chief of police atlanta, georgia. the commission will investigate the origins of the recent disorders in our cities. it will make recommendations to me, the congress, the state governors, and to the mayors for measures to prevent or contain such disasters in the future. in their work, the commission members will access to the facts that are gathered by director edgar hoover and the federal bureau of investigation. the fbi will continue to exercise its full authority to investigate these riots in accordance with my standing instructions, and continue to search for evidence of conspiracy. but even before the commission begins its work and even before all of the evidence is in, there are some things that we can tell
about the outbreaks of this summer. first, let there be no mistake about it -- the looting and arson and plunder and pillage, which have occurred, are not part of a civil rights protest. there is no american right to loot stores or to burn buildings or two fire rifles from the rooftops. that is crime, and crime must be dealt with forcefully and swiftly, and certainly under law. innocent people, negro and white, have been killed. damage to property owned by negroes and whites is calamitous. worst of all, fear and bitterness which have been loosed will take long months to erase. the criminals who committed
these acts of violence against the people deserve to be punished, and they must be punished. explanations may be offered, but nothing can excuse what they have done. there will be attempts to interpret the events of the past few days, but when violence strikes, then those in public responsibility have an immediate and very different job, not to analyze, but to end disorder. that they must seek to do with every means at our command. through local, through police and state officials, and in extraordinary circumstances where local authorities have stated that they cannot maintain order with their own resources, then through federal authority that we have limited authority
to use. i have tonight directed the secretary of defense to issue a new training standard for riot control procedures immediately to national guard units across the country. through the continental army command, this expanded training will begin immediately. the national guard must have the ability to respond effectively, appropriately, in conditions of disorder and violence, and those charged with the responsibility of law enforcement should and must be respected by all of our people. the violence must be stopped quickly, finally, and permanently. it would compound the tragedy, however, if we should settle for order that is imposed by the muzzle of a gun. in america, we seek more than
the uneasy calm of martial law. we seek peace that's based on one man's respect for another man and upon mutual respect for law. we seek a public order that's built on steady progress and meeting the needs of all of our people. and not even the sternest police action or the most effective federal troops can ever create lasting peace in our cities. the only genuine long-range solution for what has happened lies in an attack mounted at every level upon the conditions that breed despair and breed violence. all of us, i think, know what those conditions are -- ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not
enough jobs. and we should attack these conditions not because we are fighting back conflict, but because we are fired by conscience. we should attack them because there is simply no other way to achieve a decent and orderly society in america. in the past 3.5 years, we have directed the greatest governmental effort in all of our american history at these ancient enemies. the role call of those laws reveals the depth of our american concern. the model citizen, the voter's rights act, the civil rights act, the supplement act, medicare and medicaid, the 24 educational bills. headstart, the job corps, neighborhood youth corps,
ps, manpower development and training, and many, many more acts too numerous to mention on television tonight. we will continue to press the laws which would protect our citizens from violence, like the city streets and crime control act now under consideration in congress, and the gun control act. and our work has just begun. yet there are those who feel that even this beginning is too much. there are those who would have us turned back even now at the -- would have us turn back even now at the beginning of this journey. last week in congress, a small but important plan of action in the cities was voted down in the house of representatives. the members of that body rejected my request for $20 million to fight the pestilence
of rats. rats which prowl in dark alleys and tenements and attack thousands of city children. the passage of this legislation would've meant much to the children of the slums. a strong government that has spent millions to protect 80's from worms -- millions to protect babies from worms could surely afford to show as much concern for baby boys and girls. there are some who feel we cannot afford a model cities program and they reduced my request for funds this year by two-thirds. there are some who feel that we cannot afford additional good teachers for the children of poverty in urban areas. our new efforts to house those that are most in need of housing or to aid in education to those
who need to read and write. theirs is a strange system of bookkeeping. i believe that we should be counting the assets that these measures can bring to america. cities richer in opportunity. cities more full of commerce. -- promise. cities of order, and progress, and happiness. instead, some are counting the seeds of bitterness. this is not a time for angry reaction. but i think it is a time for action, starting with legislative action to improve the life in our cities. the strength and the promise of the law are the surest remedies for tragedy in the streets. but laws are only one answer. another answer lies in the way
that our people respond to these disturbances. there is a danger that the worst toll of this tragedy will be counted in the hearts of americans in hatred and insecurity, in fear, in heated words that will not end the conflict but will rather prolong it. so let us acknowledge the tragedy, but let us not exaggerate it. let's look about tonight. let's look at ourselves, and i think we will see these things. most americans, negro and white, are leading decent, responsible, and productive lives. most americans, negro and white, seek safety in their neighborhoods and harmony with their neighbors. nothing can destroy goodwill more than a period of needless
strife and suspicion between the races. let us condemn the violent few, but let us remember that it is law-abiding negro families who have really suffered the most at the hands of the liars. it is responsible negro citizens who hope most fervently and need most urgently to share in america's growth and in america's prosperity. and this is no time to turn away from that goal. to reach it will require more than laws, and much more than dollars. it will take renewed dedication and better understanding in the heart of every citizen.
i know there are millions of men and women tonight who are eager to heal the wounds that we have suffered. who want to get on with the job of teaching and working and building america. and in that spirit, at the conclusion of this address, i will sign a proclamation tonight, calling for a day of prayer in our nation throughout all of our states. on this sunday, july 30 -- and i urge the citizens in every town and every city and every home in this land, to go into their churches, to pray for order and reconciliation among men. and i appeal to every governor and every mayor and every
preacher and every teacher and parent, to join and give leadership in this national observance. this spirit of dedication cannot be limited to our public leaders. it just must extend to every citizen in this land, and the man who seeks to break the peace must feel the powerful disapproval of all of his neighbors. so tonight, i call upon every american to search his own heart. and to those who are tempted by violence, i would say this -- think again. who is really the loser when violence comes? whose neighborhood is made a
shambles? whose life is threatened most? and if you choose to tear down what other hands have built, you will not succeed. you will suffer most from your own crimes. you will learn that there are no victors in the aftermath of violence. the apostles of violence with their ugly drumbeat of hatred must know that they are now heading for ruin and disaster. and every man who really wants progress or justice or equality must stand against them and against their miserable virus of hate. other americans, especially those in positions of public
trust, i have this message -- yours is a duty to bring about a peaceful change in america. if your response to these tragic events is only business as usual, you invite not only disaster, but dishonor. so my fellow citizens, let us go about our work. let us clear the streets of rubble and let us quench the fires that hatred sets. let us feed and care for those have suffered at the ri oters' hands. let there be no bones or no reward or no salutes for those who have inflicted that suffering. let us resolve that this violence is going to stop and there will be no bonus flow from it. we can stop it. we must stop it. we will stop it.
and let us build something much more lasting. faith between man and man. faith between race and race. faith in each other, and faith in the promise of a beautiful america. let us pray for the day when mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. let us pray and let us work for better jobs, and better housing, and better education, that so many millions of our own fellow americans need so much tonight. let us then act in the congress and in the city halls and in every community, so that this great land of ours may truly be
one nation, under god, with liberty and justice for all. good night, and thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. in 1911, the triangle shirtwaist factory new york caught fire and 146 workers died, mostly women and immigrants. this was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in united states. members of the remember the triangle fire coalition spoke about the event's history, memory, and relevance today. it is an hour and 15 minutes. >> welcome to the triangle factory