Friday, 03 Feb 2023

We may have lost the south: what LBJ really said about Democrats in 1964

We may have lost the south: what LBJ really said about Democrats in 1964


We may have lost the south: what LBJ really said about Democrats in 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in American history, giving protections and rights long denied to Black Americans. Like the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Medicare for senior citizens, it was a pillar of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.

The Civil Rights Act also had a profound effect on the American political landscape, triggering a reshaping that still influences the fortunes of Democrats and Republicans, particularly in the south.

A brilliant political analyst, Johnson foresaw the consequences of his civil rights legislation on the day he signed it into law. He is said to have remarked: "We've lost the south for a generation."

Indeed, the south has become steadily more Republican since then, the victories of Joe Biden and two Democratic senators in Georgia in 2020 and 2022 rare blue successes in a Republican stronghold.

But did Johnson really say it? He didn't mention it in his memoir - and he died 50 years ago on Sunday, aged just 64. In his absence, historians debate and write.

So the Guardian went to the source: the legendary journalist Bill Moyers. Now 88, he was Johnson's special assistant when the Civil Rights Act passed.

Moyers responded with a detailed email.

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