In this WSB newsfilm clip from a press conference held in Atlanta, Georgia on November 2, 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses an alleged Republican plot encouraging African Americans to write-in King's name in the upcoming presidential election. The clip's audio track is inconsistent; some comments may not be completely recorded.
The clip begins as King criticizes the write-in plot which he views as a desperate attempt to pull votes away from President Lyndon B. Johnson. King points out that there are six and one half million African Americans registered to vote in the United States and that in many large cities in the nation, the African American vote rivals the white vote. He believes that those who initiated the write-in scheme are seeking to "keep the election from being the kind of landslide that it should be." King recognizes that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater may not be responsible for the conspiracy, but does blame the "ranks of the Republican party and the anti-Democratic and anti-Johnson" forces for the trickery. Three white reporters sitting at the edge of the room take notes as does a black reporter; a reel-to-reel recording machine runs in the back.
Andrew Young, a minister for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, sits beside King; both Young and King appear to speak but no audio is recorded. The camera focuses on a Western Unity telegram although the text cannot be read. When the audio returns to the clip, King asserts that encouraging African Americans to write-in his name as a candidate for president takes votes away from the Democratic Party. While King and those working with him have not found the source of funding for the advertisements, he suggests that those supporting Barry Goldwater are responsible. He hopes that "no responsible officials of the Republican Party would approve such a gesture" and blames action for encouraging "the worst racist elements in the country to flood the [Republican] party ranks." King found out about the campaign when a California radio station informed him that an advertising agency was buying radio time and encouraging African Americans to write-in King's name. The Washington office of the SCLC also found that "millions of handbills" were being passed out with the same message. King emphasizes that he is not a candidate for president and encourages African Americans to vote for one of the candidates on the ballot. The plot to confuse black voters and cause them to cancel their votes "is a new low in national politics" and all the more obviously a plot since it was begun so close to the election date.
King reviews some of the challenges overcome by African Americans seeking to vote and announces that since the last election over a million African Americans registered to vote for the first time. Because many of the newly registered voters have little experience with voting, King declares "it is therefore all the more damnable that anyone attempt to employ such chicanery to deprive them of a voice" in the presidential election. King reviews his efforts to make his position for Johnson clear; he believes Johnson's election is a collective effort leading to "a massive victory" in part because Americans realize that Goldwater's philosophy "would take us backward."
A reporter appears to ask King about civil rights demonstrations, although the reporter's question is not completely recorded. King announces that there will be demonstrations as long as there is segregation, discrimination, and racial injustice. He lists Alabama and Mississippi as states with "pockets of resistance" where more African Americans need to register to vote. He also identifies problems in the North including "jobs, housing, and also quality integrated education" that civil rights organizations should address. Another reporter begins asking King a question that is not completely recorded. Finally, King supports Johnson because of his stand in favor of civil rights. King praises Johnson for the evolution of his opinion on civil rights, who, "though a Southerner, has been emancipated on this issue." He describes Johnson as an emancipated Southerner who sees the moral issue of civil rights. On November 3, Lyndon Johnson won the 1964 presidential election, beating Barry Goldwater by one of the largest percentages in history and winning ninety-six percent of the African American vote. Goldwater won in Arizona, his home state, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.