Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Situation in Selma, Alabama.

March 09, 1965

EVER SINCE the events of Sunday afternoon in Selma, Ala., the administration has been in close touch with the situation and has made every effort to prevent a repetition. I am certain Americans everywhere join in deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote.

The best legal talent in the Federal Government is engaged in preparing legislation which will secure that right for every American. I expect to complete work on my recommendations by this weekend and shall dispatch a special message to Congress as soon as the drafting of the legislation is finished.

Federal officials have been sent to Selma and are supplying up-to-the-minute reports on developments there.

The Federal District Court in Alabama has before it a request to enjoin State officials from interfering with the right of Alabama citizens to walk from Selma to Montgomery in order to focus attention on their efforts to secure the right to register and vote. I have directed the Justice Department to enter the case as a "friend of the court" so that it can present its recommendations and otherwise assist the court in every manner in resolving the legal issues involved in the case.

We will continue our efforts to work with the individuals involved to relieve tensions and to make it possible for every citizen to vote. I urge all who are in positions of leadership and capable of influencing the conduct of others to approach this tense situation with calmness, reasonableness, and respect for law and order.

Note: For the President's special message to Congress, see Item 108; for his letter transmitting draft legislation on voting rights, see Item 109. See also Item 106 [1].

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Situation in Selma, Alabama. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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