I found another great audio artifact at the website of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs: an actual telephone conversation between the Rev. Martin Luther King and President Lyndon Johnson!
The phone call took place on January 15, 1965. Dr. King first congratulated the president on his State of the Union address. Then he made this appeal on behalf of civil rights leaders nationwide:
“We have a strong feeling that it would mean so much to the health of our whole democracy, to the Negro and to the nation to have a Negro in the Cabinet.”
MLK continued: “It would really be a great step forward for the nation, for the Negro, for our international image, and would do so much to give many people a lift who need a lift now. And I’m sure that it could give a new sense of dignity and self-respect to millions of Negroes....”
Click here to hear a 6½-minute excerpt from that call on my Vox blog. (Johnson’s voice is clear as a bell, but King’s end of the conversation is harder to hear.)
President Johnson agreed with King, and talked about his plan to create a Cabinet-level department for housing and urban affairs. (This came to pass later in 1965.) Johnson said he wanted to appoint Robert C. Weaver to head such a department.
Indeed, Weaver (pictured) became the first Secretary of Housing and Urban Development... and the first African American to serve in the U.S. Cabinet.