White House Logs From Sit-In

The LBJ Presidential Library has released copies of the official White House diary kept during the Johnson administration.

The entry for March 11, 1965 contains multiple entries regarding the sit-in, many of which feature Rufus Youngblood, a US Secret Service agent who had leapt to protect Johnson during the assassination of JFK, and was put in charge of the White House Secret Service detail when Johnson became President. The log also notes the involvement of Presidential advisors Bill MoyersJack Valenti, Cliff Alexander, and Lee White in the discussions that day.

11:20 Rufus Youngblood, USSS, went to the second floor to see the President. He was on the telephone, so he sent a note into the President by way of Ken Gaddis to the effect that 12 demonstrators were sitting down on the ground floor.

Rufus had taken a walk along the Ground Floor, looked at the demonstrators, and gone straight up to tell the President. When the President finished his telephone call he asked Rufus to come in. During the interval, however, he called Lee White and told him that Rufus was in the room with the news that 12 demonstrators were camped out downstairs. He discussed the matter with Lee. After finishing his conversation with Mr. White, he asked Rufus how many people were down stairs, how old were they. Rufus told him all he — after only his quick observation. Then the President asked him if the regular tours could go ahead without the demonstrators being noticed by tourists. Rufus told him he thought they could. So the President ordered that the tourists come in by way of the North Portico. Rufus relayed the message. However, the regular tours end at 12:00 and since they had been disbanded when the demonstrators were first noted, the crowds had dispersed, and there was neither time nor people to be brought into the front door. The President then asked Rufus what he advised be done. Rufus told him that the normal procedure was to tell them that they were violating the law, and if they didn’t move, then move them out bodily — with the aid of the Metropolitan Police. The President replied that if they could be isolated, then let us leave them alone for the time being, and we’ll look into it. Also in the room were Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, and the President turned to them for suggestions. The President ordered that all traffic be detoured away from the demonstrators. No staff people were allowed near them. They were to be given no attention by the people who work in the White House.

During this time the President was getting dressed and getting ready to come over to the office.

At one time during the afternoon two of the demonstrators left because they had to go to the bathroom — they had been served coffee during the morning hours. At another point the demonstrators got up — as if to leave and headed towards an exit, but when they noted that no one was there to see them, they stopped, and took up their seated places just outside the theater.

Staff members: Lee White, Jack Valenti, Bill Moyers, Cliff Alexander, during which time the President briefed White, Moyers and Alexander on how to go talk to the demonstrators — the 3 left for the mansion at 3:15p.

4:07 – 4:30: Bill Moyers and Cliff Alexander; Jack Valenti, George Reedy, and Lee C. White — RE: Civil Rights problems in Selma, Alabama and sit-in demonstrators in the East Wing of the Mansion.

4:24: Agent Rufus Youngblood joined — RE: same as above — but mainly concerned with sit-in demonstrators in the White House. Agent Youngblood said their [sic] were mainly of student age — not over 24 years of age and that at the beginning there were 6 white students and 6 Negro students — at this point, 2 had left — The problem concerned — was not that the students were of a violent nature, but that it was a “touchy” problem of “throwing them out since the closing time of the White House tours was 12:00 noon.

4:53: Asking to get Agent Rufus Youngblood to come in again.

4:55 – 5:00: Agent Rufus Youngblood. The President gave Rufus certain instructions as to how the demonstrators should be removed from the White House. He suggested that they use plain clothesmen and in a combination of both negro and white policemen and that they get about 3-5 cars and put a couple of the demonstrators in each car and take them out in different gates at different interfals, and take them to different police stations. Rufus had told him that in order for the police to remove them, they would have to be charged with something. The police planned to charge them with “illegal entry,” since they were illegally in the White House. This remove took place — in compliance with the President’s exact instructions — while he was away from the grounds at the Sam Rayburn Office Building Gym dedications.

6:41: In mjdr’s — looked through pics on gw’s desk — and said that he heard that someone in the WH had tied themselves to a rail so that they wouldn’t be moved from the East Wing — (this response came from watching the TV that was on in mjdr’s office — John Chancellor’s news report fr. the WH on the sit-ins in the WH)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *