Miller Center

LBJ and Senator James Eastland on Mississippi Burning Murders

On June 23, 1964, President Johnson was receiving news that three civil rights workers--Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner--were missing in Mississippi. Throughout this day and the next week, Johnson continued to follow the case closely, holding over 40 recorded conversations. In this call, Johnson reached out to Senator James O. Eastland, a staunch segregationist from the Mississippi Delta. Eastland declared the episode a publicity stunt, denied the existence of organized white supremacy groups in that part of Mississippi, and ridiculed Fannie Lou Hamer.

Unknown to Johnson, the three workers had been murdered by a group of white supremacists that included local law enforcement officials. A massive manhunt turned up bodies, but not of the three workers. Only after a tip from a paid informant were they discovered--over six weeks later--in an earthen dam southwest of Philadelphia.

Date:  Jun 23, 1964
Participants:  Lyndon Johnson, James Eastland
Conversation Number:  WH6406.14 #3856

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