For Black History Month we have released some new transcripts of conversations between Dr. Martin Luther King and President Johnson from 1965.
[click on the blue quotes to go directly to the transcripts]
August 20, 1965 | In the midst of the Watts riots, President Johnson and Dr. King discuss how to fix the underlying problems.
January 15, 1965 | In responding to Dr. King's suggestion for the appointment of African American to a Cabinet-level post, Johnson laid out his priorities on racial matters, particularly in legislation and in Cabinet-level appointments. Johnson and King discuss the importance of the Voting Rights Act in the context of much broader legislation to help black Americans, especially poor black Americans.
July 7, 1965 | Dr. King and President Johnson discuss legislative tactics and King tries to explain his public criticism of the Johnson administration's conduct of the Vietnam War.
Following the September 15 bombing of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in which four black girls were killed, President Kennedy met with civil rights leaders in Washington. This tape segment begins with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describing the situation confronting Birmingham's black residents and urging federal action to remedy their plight.
Following the "March on Washington" and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech earlier in the day, President Kennedy met with civil rights leaders at the White House. The topics under discussion were the event itself. the details of civil rights legislation then moving through Congress, and strategies for empowering black Americans. The NAACP's Roy Wilkens begins this segment, offering reasons for the march's success.
Zachary Karabell and Jonathan Rosenberg, Kennedy, Johnson, and the Quest for Justice: The Civil Rights Tapes (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003)