Interview with Harry McPherson

Is there a particular story that you remember from the time that describes Johnson's feelings?


President Johnson, after the Voting Rights Act was passed, felt exultant, um, with hope for the change in the South. But he knew that there were major problems, that the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act would not address. They would help; they freed Black Americans from um, many of the institutional, legal, and political shackles that had bound them for centuries, but they didn't do anything about the enormous number of Blacks who had moved from the South to the North, to the cities--from the Midwest and the Great Lakes to the East Coast, and who were now living in bad conditions, with, um, insufficient education, health care, training and jobs. So he made a speech at Howard University, the commencement speech in 1965 in which he said that these acts that we have passed, what we have now done to break the institutional shackles from Blacks, we now must go beyond and to, to a real program of education, health care, employment and the rest of it, so that we will begin to move people who have been oppressed for many generations into the sunlight of the 20th century.