The White House Tapes: Civil Rights

Eavesdrop on John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson in their pivotal phone conversations at the turning points of desegregation. Hear the private thoughts of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights as they navigate the turbulence and triumphs of the March on Selma, the Mississippi Crisis and the passing of the Voting Rights Act.


Resources in this Collection


listen JFK Debates Govenor's Decision to Ban James Meredith from U-Miss

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 5:01 | Audio Format: MP3
When Bobby Kennedy could not get Governor Barnett to comply with the order of the Supreme Court to allow a black man to enroll at the University of Mississippi, President Kennedy stepped in.


listen JFK Persuades Barnett to Maintain Law and Order in Mississippi

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 3:26 | Audio Format: MP3
Rather than send army troops to escort Meredith to Ole' Miss, President Kennedy dispatched scores of Federal Marshals to Mississippi – lightly armed men clad awkwardly in suits, ties and gas masks.
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listen JFK Addresses Nation Prematurely on Success in Mississippi

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 8:37 | Audio Format: MP3
President Kennedy went on national television that night to announce this apparent victory and explain that it had been achieved without the use of federal soldiers.
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listen JFK Demands Barnett Take Charge of Riot

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 1:28 | Audio Format: MP3
Ross Barnett was at his office in Jackson, on the phone again to Kennedy in Washington, where it was just past midnight. The governor...


listen LBJ: Road from Selma

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 41:40 | Audio Format: MP3
When Lyndon B. Johnson became president in 1963, liberals feared he would weaken JFK's civil rights agenda. Instead, Johnson got the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act passed. Hear Johnson talk strategy with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


listen LBJ Orders Aide, Bill Moyers, to Remind Civil Rights Leaders Who's in Charge

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 1:24 | Audio Format: MP3
President Johnson ordered his aide, Bill Moyers, to remind the civil rights leader who was running the country.


listen LBJ Address Congress and Nation Opposing Segregation

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 45:23 | Audio Format: MP3
President Johnson spoke to a specially-convened Joint Session of Congress, and to millions of television viewers. In one of the most important speeches of his presidency...
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listen LBJ and Buford Ellington Discuss Selma March with George Wallace

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 22:21 | Audio Format: MP3
Rather than take on Alabama Governor, George Wallace, alone, President Johnson enlisted a go-between, someone he thought Wallace would trust...
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listen LBJ and former TN Gov. Buford Ellington discuss Wallace double-cross

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 3:42 | Audio Format: MP3
At 9 p.m. that night, LBJ vented his fury to Buford Ellington, suggesting they use the secret White House taping system to trap Wallace in a lie.


listen Martin Luther King, Jr. Selma Speech "Our God Is Marching On!"

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 3:41 | Audio Format: MP3
The journey ended on Thursday, March 25 with a rally at the Alabama state capitol, below the window of Governor George Wallace. Martin Luther King, Jr. reassured...


listen Hoover Informant

SHOW: American RadioWorks | Length: 1:42 | Audio Format: MP3
After the march, a white woman is shot by the Ku Klux Klan while driving a black man home. An FBI informant was amoung the Klan members...