King, Johnson Recalled: History in the Making

By Feuerherd, Joe | National Catholic Reporter, January 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

King, Johnson Recalled: History in the Making


Feuerherd, Joe, National Catholic Reporter


In 1965 Harry McPherson, then a young aide to Lyndon Johnson and now a Washington elder statesman, was on the floor of the House of Representatives when the president addressed a joint session of Congress. The topic was voting rights. The scene is recalled by Nick Kotz in his new book, Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws that Changed America.

"Pausing for several seconds, Lyndon Baines Johnson continued slowly in a powerful, determined voice, with a distinct emphasis on each word. 'And --we--shall--overcome.' "The president of the United States--a Southerner with a mixed record on racial issues during his tenure as Senate majority leader--had just made the rallying cry of the civil rights movement his own. The crowd cheered uproariously, writes Kotz, while "Mike Mansfield, the laconic, dry-witted exemplar of fairness in the Senate, sat with tears running down his face."

Forty years later, McPherson, waiting in line to get Kotz's signature at a Jan. 12 book signing at a hotel just blocks from his old White House office, recalled that he was seated next to a Southern congressman during the presidential address. Mimicking a drawl, McPherson, a Texan, recalled the segregationist lawmaker's dumbstruck response. "Gawwd damn," was all he could say. Change was coming quickly.

History doesn't just happen. It is made, created, shaped. And it helps if somebody writes it down--candidly, factually and with a bit of flair. Which is exactly what Kotz, a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist who had a front row seat to the civil rights dramas as a correspondent with The Des Moines Register, has done. Washington's Great Society glitterati--Ben Bradlee, Julian Bond, Elizabeth Drew, Haynes Johnson, Frank Mankiewicz, Roger Mudd, Sally Quinn, Daniel Shorr, Roger Wilkins and many others--were among those who came to the St. Regis Hotel to celebrate not only Kotz's latest, but an era when it wasn't unheard of for politicians, presidents and activists to combine political skill with moral courage.

What everyone at the Crystal Ball Room book signing knew is that the great achievements of that era might never have happened. "Without the synergy they created together," Kotz writes of King and Johnson, "the outcome of the civil rights revolution would have been very different."

Kotz on Johnson, the master legislative strategist: "While he fought to pass a strong civil rights bill in the Senate, President Johnson nimbly worked behind the scenes with the segregationist Southerners, supporting their issues when he could. ... He had maintained the goodwill of his former Southern colleagues, especially opposition leader Richard Russell.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

King, Johnson Recalled: History in the Making
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.