Before final Selma march, LBJ agrees JFK needed more protection

Today, March 21, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the final of the three historic Selma-to-Montgomery marches protesting voting discrimination in the South.

During the first march, held March 7, the nation was shocked as it bore witness to the unchecked brutality Alabama state troopers unleashed upon peaceful marchers. The violence resulted in 2,000 U.S. troops joining 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard to keep the peace during the final day of protest.

But in the lead up to that day, President Lyndon Johnson had to lobby Alabama Governor George Wallace to call up the National Guard. In this March 18, 1965, phone call, Wallace insists that state authorities could handle the situation, while allowing that he couldn’t promise that “nobody’s gonna get hit by a rock.”

He uses the JFK assassination to make his point (begins at the 11:00 minute mark):

“It’s almost impossible to guarantee that somebody, one person ain’t gonna get hit with a rock,” Wallace says. “You know, the president of our nation was slain with all that protection he had over in Texas. Just sometimes can’t guarantee that nobody’s gonna get hit with a rock or something because if they can’t protect our president from being brutally slain, why sometimes it’s hard to keep somebody from getting hit with a rock…”

“Governor, that’s your right…” LBJ responds. “Course … if we could’ve anticipated, had any idea something like this might’ve happened, well we might’ve had a guard out. We know we got trouble ahead here. We can see it coming.”

15 thoughts on “Before final Selma march, LBJ agrees JFK needed more protection”

  1. What protection???? Knowing ahead of time that JFK had so many enemies going into his Dallas visit, why wasn’t anyone thinking clearly? Not even a bubbletop. What protection??

  2. There was a fascinating financial triangulation formed between George Wallace, Curtis LeMay and Dallas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt during Wallace/LeMay’s failed 1968 run for the American presidency. Hubert Humphrey called them the “Bombsey Twins” (though hopefully with a self-aware sense of deep irony considering the tonnage of U.S. ordnance dropping daily then in Vietnam). Uou can read about that triangulation here:,_1968
    And elsewhere no doubt.

  3. “All that protection” had to be sarcastic. Watching the stabilized panorama version of the Zapruder film makes is obvious he was a sitting duck. Anyone could have gone to work in Dealey Plaza that day or hid behind the picket fence with a rifle and taken a shot. This “lowering of the guard” was intentional.

  4. Nathaniel Heidenheimer

    Robert Caro in his last LBJ book wonders why LBJ’s aid Bill Moyers refused to be interviewed. Maybe questions about Moyers role in the motorcade route would have come up. Maybe questions about the Katzencbach Memo would have come up.

    JFKfacts should call out Moyers to make himself available. He owes it to history and is known to preach in favor or more sunlight in government. We need to stop giving this guy a free ride. He has been silent long enough.

    1. That Katzenbach memo, in which Moyers certainly had a role, set in motion the creation of the Warren Commission. It TOLD the WC what to do, in effect, which was to avoid seeking the truth of the assassination. Yes…Moyers needs to come clean.

    2. Ramon F Herrera

      “If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice that you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

      LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 1960, remark to Bill Moyers,
      “What a Real President Was Like,”
      Washington Post, 13 November 1988

    3. I agree with Nathaniel. If Moyers is the public citizen he says he is, he needs to stand up and be counted. He’s over eighty, and I have never seen him give an acoounting of the Katzenbach memo of November 25.

      Another question he ought to be asked about is what happened the day before. Just like shown in Oliver Stone’s movie, LBJ has been quoted as telling Moyers after a meeting with the military:

      “So they’ll think with Kennedy dead we’ve lost heart … they’ll think we’re yellow …” Moyers asked whom he was referring to. Johnson replied the Chinese and the Russians. Moyers asked his boss what he was going to do now. Johnson said he was going to give the generals what they wanted, more money. LBJ continued by saying that he was not going to let Vietnam slip away like China did…” (Newsweek, 2/10/75)

  5. Roy W Kornbluth

    It sounds like George is laughing in Lyndon’s face. “YOU know the PRESIDENT of our NATION was SLAIN with all that protection (HA!) he had over in TEXAS (YOUR home STATE).” And “…if they can’t protect our PRESIDENT from being BRUTALLY SLAIN (Eat it, own it, Lyndon)…”

    And then lyin’ Lyndon stammers, whimpers, hems and haws “…we could’ve ANTICIPATED, had any IDEA might’ve happened, well we MIGHT’ve had a guard out.”

    Wallace all but said the last words of Jim Marrs’ Crossfire, “Et tu, Lyndon?” and LBJ rejoinders with the famous words of that George Dubya Bush-looking dope Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?”

      1. Guess I should edit for a younger generation who never heard of Alfred E. Neuman or MAD magazine that I read as a young teen.

    1. Yes..I do believe he deserved that nickname of “Lyin Lyndon”. He lied to the entire nation when the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base…saying “For me it(the loss of JFK)is a deep, personal tragedy”. Not bad Lyndon, lie to your country within hours of becoming POTUS.

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