President Lyndon Johnson on race relations

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:

This is an interesting story:

That’s the context of one of the most famous statements on race ever attributed to President Johnson, an off-the-cuff observation he made to a young staffer, Bill Moyers, after encountering a display of blatant racism during a political visit to the South. Moyers tells it in the first person:

We were in Tennessee. During the motorcade, he spotted some ugly racial epithets scrawled on signs. Late that night in the hotel, when the local dignitaries had finished the last bottles of bourbon and branch water and departed, he started talking about those signs. “I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it,” he said. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”