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LBJ Tours South

May 7, 1964 - President Johnson jetted into Atlanta tonight after a fast-paced tour through six states in which he rubbed elbows with sharecroppers and Governors while whipping up public support for his anti-poverty program.

Thousands turned out to cheer the President. One North Carolina sharecropper, William Marlow, 39, didn’t have to bother. Johnson literally dropped from the sky in a helicopter into the startled Marlow’s’ front yard.

Johnson responded exuberantly to cheering crowds at Cumberland, Md.; Martinsburg, W. Va.; Athens, Ohio; Knoxville, Tenn., and Rocky Mount before heading into Atlanta, where he planned to spend the night.

Moving fast by helicopter and Air Force jet, the President visited “pockets of poverty” to gather data at first hand and also publicly urged support for his $228 million proposal before Congress to aid economically depressed areas scattered through the nine-state belt known as Appalachia.

It was Johnson’s second tour of Appalachia in two weeks, and he made the most of it. At his side was his daughter, Lynda Bird, 20, smartly garbed in a green sleeveless dress.

The President made all his scheduled talks and several more that were unscheduled as he responded to the mood of the crowd. Several times, he donned his Texas hat.

He got so carried away with enthusiasm before a crowd of 7,500 at Ohio University at Athens that he called for a “great society” in which the lifespan of man would be lengthened to 200 years — rather than the 120 years mentioned in his speech text.

Twice as his motorcade moved slowly through downtown Athens, Johnson called a halt, left the car, and plunged into the teeming throngs to shake hands.

In his speech at the City Hall in Cumberland, Johnson became so worked up with his anti-poverty message that he banged the rostrum with his fist and clapped his hands, booming out rhetorical questions.

“Will you help free these Americans from the prisons of poverty?” he cried.

“Yes,” the crowd yelled back.



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