Interview with Harry McPherson

What did you see as President Johnson's response to Stokely and Rap? Was he--


He never, President Johnson never talked to me about Stokely Carmichael or Rap Brown. He never had to. I knew what he thought about them. The, President Johnson was in something of the same fight over civil rights and political, ah, let me back up. President Johnson believed that his troubles in the field of civil rights were pretty much like his troubles in Vietnam. Contrary to the view of many, Johnson didn't think his big troubles in Vietnam were from the left, the anti-war people. He thought the big trouble was that he wasn't doing enough to win the war, that most Americans were furious with him, not because he was in the war but because he wasn't beating this little country, North Vietnam into rubble. He thought, on the civil rights side, that the problem was not Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown and the radical liberals except in so far as they exacerbated, made worse, the anger on the part of the conservative White majority in the country. That it, that their intemperate, radical speeches, their, their invitation to violence was exactly what would infuriate the White majority, to the point where all further progress would be blocked.