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CIVIL RIGHTS DURING THE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION


1963

November 22 -- John F. Kennedy assassinated. Lyndon Johnson assumes Presidency

November 27 -- Johnson's first address to Congress

    Johnson resolved to continue the work begun under his predecessor and to make the passage of the civil rights bill a monument to Kennedy's memory.

    He asked for the early passage of the bill in order to "eliminate from this nation every trace of discrimination and oppression that is based upon race and color."

1964

January -- Johnson met with civil rights leaders to discuss his dedication and plans for progress

January 8 -- Johnson's first State of the Union address to Congress

    Johnson asked Congress to "let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined."
June 21 -- Civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, disappear in Neshoba County, Mississippi.
    The three were volunteers traveling to Mississippi to aid in the registration of African American voters as part of the Mississippi Summer Project.

    The FBI recovered their bodies, which had been buried in an earthen dam, 44 days later. The Neshoba County deputy sheriff and 16 others, all Ku Klux Klan members, were indicted for the crime; seven were convicted.
    Check out an overview about the Mississippi Deaths.

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July 2 -- President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 18-21 -- Racial violence in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant sections of New York City; outbreaks in Rochester, NY (July 24-26)

September 26 -- Johnson received racial disorder report from the FBI

    The FBI reported that there had been "no systematic planning or organization" of any of the riots in New York City and eight other northern cities.
October 14 -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is named recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

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1965

February 9 -- Johnson conferred with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He pledged swift action on voting rights legislation

February 21 -- Malcolm X is assassinated.

March 9 -- Johnson deplored brutality toward Selma-Montgomery marchers

    He criticized the harassment of African American marchers in Alabama "when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote."
March 13 -- Johnson conferred with Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, White House

    After the right of African American demonstrators to hold a mass march to Montgomery was upheld in federal court, Governor Wallace announced that Alabama was "financially unable" to mobilize the National Guard to protect the marchers, Mar.19.
March 15 -- Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, urging voting rights legislation

    In his address to the unusual night session of Congress, which was televised, he said, "what happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice."

    He closed with the rallying slogan of the civil rights movement: "And we shall overcome."
March 17 -- Johnson submitted his voting rights legislation to Congress
    Listen to a taped conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Jan 15, 1965 regarding voting violations.
    (Running Time: 02:50)

    The proposed bill was drafted with the assistance of Democratic and Republican leaders.
March 20 -- Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard

    The thirty-two hundred marchers, including many white supporters from throughout the country, began the 50 mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Mar. 21. The participants had grown to twenty five thousand when the march ended in the state capital. After twice refusing to receive a delegation of the marchers, Governor Wallace finally saw the group, Mar. 30. Wallace refused to call a biracial conference on civil rights.

    Check out the "From Selma to Montgomery" activity pod for activities relating to this historic event.
March 26 -- Johnson called for a full investigation of the Ku Klux Klan

    He announced the arrest of four Klansmen for the murder of Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo of Detroit, Mich., a white civil rights worker who had been shot to death near Selma, Mar. 25. In a televised report to the Nation, Johnson stigmatized the KKK as "a hooded society of bigots" and warned members to "get out of the Ku Klux Klan and return to a decent society before it is too late."
June 4 -- Johnson described the eventual role of African Americans in America, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

    He said, "we seek not just freedom but opportunity - not just legal equity but human ability - not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and a result."
July 11 -- Johnson issued first-year report on Civil Rights Act of 1964

    He said 60 percent of the southern and border-state school districts had complied with the provisions of the act, which had been signed July 2, 1964.
August 6 -- Johnson signs the voting rights act of 1965

    The act authorized federal examiners to register qualified voters and suspend devices such as literacy tests that aimed to prevent African Americans from voting.
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August 11-16 -- More than 35 were killed and several hundred injured during the six-day riots in the 140-block Watts section of Los Angeles, Cal. African American mobs raged through the area, looting and burning entire blocks.

August 20 -- Johnson declared no justification existed for Watts riots

    "Neither old wrongs nor new fears can ever justify arson or murder," he said.
1966

April 6 -- Alabama Governor George G. Wallace defied federal school desegregation orders.
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April 28 -- Johnson sent the 1966 civil rights bill to Congress. He proposed legislation that would ban discrimination in the sale and renting of houses. This was his first civil rights proposal that concerned a national problem, rather than merely inequalities limited to southern states.

    He also asked for legislation to end discrimination in the selection of federal and state juries and to empower the attorney general to initiate suits to force desegregation of public facilities.
July 4-9 -- A convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rejected "black power doctrine advocated by other African American organizations.

July 23 -- Johnson warned African Americans that riots impede reforms, Indianapolis, Ind., after racial tensions caused riots in Omaha (July 3-5); Chicago, Il. (July 12-15), Brooklyn, NY (July 15-22), Jacksonville, Fl. (July 18) and Cleveland, Ohio (July 18-23).
    In a speech at the Indianapolis Athletic Club, he said: Riots in the streets do not bring about lasting reforms. They tear at the very fabric of community. They set neighbor against neighbor and create walls of distrust and fear between them. They make reform more difficult by turning away the very people who can and must support reform. They start a chain reaction the consequences of which always fall most heavily on those who begin them.
1967

February 15 -- Johnson sent special message on civil rights to Congress

June 13 -- Thurgood Marshall is appointed Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court; the first African American to hold that office.

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July 24 -- Johnson issued executive order that sent forty-seven hundred federal paratroopers to quell Detroit riot

    Riot Troops are brought in to restore order.
    Running Time: 02:44

    The bloodiest racial disorder of the summer occurred in Detroit, MI, July 23-30. More than 40 persons were killed and about two thousand injured. When the ghetto riot ended, the homes of about five thousand had been destroyed.
July 27 -- Johnson appointed special advisory commission on civil disorders "to investigate the origin of the recent disorders in our cities."

    Johnson creates advisory committee.
    Running Time: 02:22

    In a nationwide television address, he proclaimed July 30 as a national day of prayer for reconciliation.
December 15 -- Johnson signed an act that extended the civil rights commission for five years

    This was the only civil rights legislation passed during 1967.
1968

January 24 -- Johnson sent a special message to Congress urging passage of civil rights legislation

March 26 -- Johnson said solutions to racial problems should begin in the South, White House

    He told a delegation of southern Baptist leaders that there is no southern problem and no northern problem, but only an American problem. "But because so much of that American problem began in the region which you and I call home, I would like to see the solutions begin there, too," he said.
April 4 -- Johnson informed of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Headlines of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination with President Johnson's response.
    Running Time: 04:43
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    He deplored the "brutal slaying" in a brief television statement and asked every citizen to "reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King, who lived by nonviolence." He proclaimed Sunday, April 7, as a national day of mourning for the Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader.

    Dr. King was killed by a sniper's bullet in Memphis, Tenn. His killer, James Earl Ray, was arrested at an airport in London, England, June 8. Ray pleaded guilty to the murder in Memphis, Mar. 10, 1969, and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
April 5 -- Johnson attended a memorial service for Dr. King, Washington Cathedral

April 5 -- Johnson ordered four thousand army and National Guard troops into Washington D.C.

    A wave of African American rioting and looting had followed the assassination of Dr. King. At least six persons were killed and 350 injured in Washington during two days of disorder.

    Racial violence flared in 125 cities, principally Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md, Chicago Il., and Kansas City, Mo. Between 45 and 50 persons were killed, more than 2,600 were injured, and more than 21,000 were arrested. Property damage exceeded $65,000,000.
April 11 -- Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968

    President Johnson signing the Act of 68.
    Running Time: 03:06
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    This act was designed to end racial discrimination in the sale and rental of 80 per cent of U.S. homes and apartments. It also gave federal protection to civil rights workers.

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