Interview with Nicholas Katzenbach


Nicholas Katzenbach:

Uh, the governor asked uh, to uh, come up, there was a great deal in the way of demonstrations, uh, he said he wanted to meet the president on this, uh, on the problems he was having with demonstrations and so forth, and so uh, the President said he'd be happy to meet with him and he uh, and he did. I think uh, I think Governor Wallace thought for reasons that I can't understand that somehow or other Lyndon Johnson was really at heart a southerner who didn't believe in racial equality, and that somehow or other that would come out in the meeting. And I'll tell you it did not come out in that meeting. I, I remember one point there, uh, there were demonstrations going on on Pennsylvania Avenue and President Johnson said, George, he said, "You know you and I can put an end to these demonstrations right in a minute, we just go out there before the television cameras and you tell them that you have decided to desegregate every school in the state of Alabama, why that'll put an end to these demonstrations." And Wallace turned pa—-he said, "I can't do that, I don't run the schools." And uh, Johnson said, "Don't you kid me about what you run in Alabama, George." And uh, then the next question was how do you think we're doing in Vietnam, which was one that Wallace would support him on and he played that back and forth and I think asking for that meeting was—Wallace would have felt at the end of that meeting was a bad mistake. Uh, and he left by the back door and did not go out, did not meet with the press, did not meet with the cameras, and just kind of slunk home.