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LBJ Pledges to Enforce New Rights Law

June 27, 1964 - President Johnson warned tonight that the new civil rights bill would not “instantly destroy the differences shaped over centuries.” But he pledged to enforce it to the limit.

“For once a law is passed,” Johnson said, “no man can defy it, and no leader can refuse to enforce it. If our laws are flouted, our society will fail.”

The “events of the past few days,” he said in obvious reference to the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, “again illuminate how painful can be the path to racial justice.”

The President addressed a $100-a-plate political dinner in the Municipal Auditorium in Minneapolis. HIs remarks apparently were aimed at destroying any impression in the Southern states that, as a Southerner himself, he would not enforce the civil rights bill strongly.

Most of Johnson’s day was devoted to applying his vote-harvesting techniques to the farm country.

Touching bases as naturally as Mickey Mantle, Johnson turned from a gathering of industrial magnates in Detroit last night to the liberal precincts of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in St. Paul, Minnesota.

At the gathering in St. Paul, Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman suggested a trademark for the Johnson Administration — “the great society.”

He coupled the slogan with that of President Kennedy by urging “a revolutionary reallocation of human energy to help create what President Johnson calls the great society, what President Kennedy described as the New Frontier.”

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