A Conversation between LBJ and Martin Luther King, Jr.

11/25/63 - 9:20PM

LBJ:  …interest and your cooperation, and your communication, and a good many people told me that they heard about your statement.  I guess [it was] on TV wasn’t it?

MLK:  Yes, that’s right—

LBJ:  I—

MLK:  --uh-huh.

LBJ:  I’ve been locked up in this office, and I haven’t seen it.  But I want to tell you how grateful I am, and how worthy I’m going to try to be of all your hopes.

MLK:  Well, thank you very much.  I’m so happy to hear that, and I knew that you had just that great spirit, and you know you have our support and backing—

LBJ:  Well—

MLK:  --because we know what a difficult period this is.  [Inaudible]

LBJ:  It’s just an impossible period.  We’ve got a budget coming up that’s—we’ve got nothing to do with it; it’s practically already made.  And we’ve got a civil rights bill that hadn’t even passed the House, and it’s November, and Hubert Humphrey told me yesterday everybody wanted to go home.  We’ve got a tax bill that they haven’t touched.  We just got to let up—not let up on any of them and keep going and--  

MLK:  Yes.

LBJ:  --I guess they’ll say that I’m repudiated.  But I’m going to ask the Congress Wednesday to just stay there until they pass them all.  They won’t do it.  But we’ll just keep them there next year until they do, and we just won’t give up an inch.

MLK:  Uh-uh.  Well this is mighty fine.  I think it’s so imperative.  I think one of the great tributes that we can pay in memory of President Kennedy is to try to enact some of the great, progressive policies that he sought to initiate.

LBJ:  Well, I’m going to support them all, and you can count on that.  And I’m going to do my best to get other men to do likewise, and I’ll have to have y’all’s help.

MLK:  Right.

LBJ:  I never needed it more than I do now.

MLK:  Well, you know you have it, and just feel free to call on us for anything.

LBJ:  Thank you so much, Martin.

MLK:  All right.  Give my—

LBJ:  Call me when you’re—

MLK:  --regards to the family.

LBJ:  I sure will.  And call me when you’re down here next time.

MLK:  I certainly will, Mr. President.

LBJ:  Let’s get together.  And any suggestions you’ve got, bring them in.

MLK:  Fine, I certainly will do that.

LBJ:  Thank you so much.

MLK:  Thank you for calling.

Read the transcript of a conversation between President Johnson and Wilbur Cohen about the Medicare bill.