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President Johnson Reinforces Commitment to Predecessor’s Civil Rights Program

Dec. 2, 1963 - President Johnson reinforced today his commitment to President Kennedy’s civil rights program. After meeting with President Johnson for nearly an hour, Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League, said: “While President Johnson is committed to carrying out the Kennedy program, he has deep convictions in his own right.” Familiar with Mr. Johnson’s part, as Senate Democratic Leader, in the passage of the civil rights bills in 1957 and 1960, Mr. Young remarked that Mr. Johnson “is not a Johnny-come-lately in the field of civil rights.” “We have very great faith in the President’s position on civil rights,” said Mr. Young. “We have every expectation that out of his own convictions he will do well in this job.” Mr. Young said he and President Johnson had spent much of their time discussing Negro unemployment, which is about twice the rate of whites. Mr. Young told the President that, in his view, the immediate problem could be met only by “a vast public works program” because Negroes did not want to be on Government relief. President Johnson, Mr. Young said, did not commit himself to a public works program. Meanwhile, four of President Kennedy’s closest advisers — Theodore Sorenson, special counsel; Kenneth O’Donnell, appointments secretary; Lawrence O’Brien, special assistant; and Pierre Salinger, press secretary, agreed to serve President Johnson for as long as he wants them. There were indications, however, that Mr. Salinger might be considering a race for a House seat from California.


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