Interview with Nicholas Katzenbach
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

WELL, WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO MORE OF THAT, LET'S JUST STEP DOWN FOR A MOMENT ‘CAUSE I WANT TO KIND OF, OK, REFUTE THE ARGUMENTS THAT HE WAS WAFFLING OR WASN'T THAT COMMITTED TO ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION.

Nicholas Katzenbach:

Lyndon Johnson was really determined to go down in history as the President who had made the greatest accomplishments in, in Civil Rights. Uh, and he was enabled to do that by the huge majority that he got in the ‘64 election where he buried Barry Goldwater. Uh, and so he had the opportunity to do it and he wanted to do it. I think those of us who had been involved, day in and day out, uh, in Civil Rights litigation and getting the, the, the uh 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress, uh, were the people who were dragging our feet and wanted breathing room, the President didn't want that. He said get it and get it now because we'll never have a better opportunity to get legislation on any subject, including Civil Rights that we have right now in 1965. We have the majority to do it and we can do it.** Uh, and he did. And people who have any doubts about it, will remember he made abs—-in the campaign he made an absolutely great speech in New Orleans on the subject of Civil Rights. And uh, I have heard him say to me, "I don't understand why people think they can discriminate in favor of whites." He said four-fifths of the world is white.