Miller Center

President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. on the Watts Riots

In this conversation excerpt, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson discuss the implications of the recent Watts Riots. Although the United States had experienced a series of urban revolts during 1964 and 1965, the intensity and violence of Watts had been a shock to much of the nation and to LBJ in particular. The conversation reveals much of the balance between tension and cautious respect that characterized the King-Johnson relationship, as well as both men's growing sense of desperation in addressing the problems facing the United States. While King expressed his frustration with the unresponsive white leadership in Los Angeles, President Johnson appealed for King's support in pursuing his domestic policy agenda in an increasingly hostile Congress.

Date:  Aug 20, 1965
Participants:  Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr.
Conversation Number:  WH6508.07-8578

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