American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"LBJ" (2017)


President Johnson Relates a Story About Racism and the Civil Rights Bill

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President Johnson: About a year ago my private cook, Mrs. Wright, who you know, was driving from here down to the ranch in Texas, so I asked her if she would mind bringing my dog, little beagle Johnson, with her, in order that he could be there when I got home.

Mrs. Wright respectfully declined. She said, "It is hard enough for a black woman driving through the South without having a dog to worry about -- finding a place to eat, to sleep, to use the restroom."


The personal cook of the Vice President of the United States has to drive through towns without stopping, then squat to pee by the side of the road.

Hundred years ago she would have been a slave.

Hundred years from now...she might be President!

But today...we live in a time of too much uncertainty.

Where can she eat? Where can she sleep?

Can she vote? And if she does, will she be harassed for casting that vote.

Can she attend school? If so, which school?

Can she travel the cities and towns of this land without fearing for her safety?


What rights that belong to the men in this room should not be afforded to her?


Mr. Valenti: Sir, you're going to lose the support of the people that have always had your back. And if you aren't successful, you're never going to earn the support of anyone else.


Mr. Reedy: Four other Presidents have fought Congress on this....



And failed.


President Johnson:

There will be no compromise.

There will be no negotiation.

And, there will be no failure.

This time, Congress is not fighting a President -- it is fighting two! [John F. Kennedy]

Never underestimate the intensity of a martyr's cause.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.