September 27, 1966. Hunters Point, a predominantly black section of San Francisco, erupts in a riot. Compared to Watts, or, especially, the riots to come in 1967 and 1968, the violence is relatively mild: it only lasts 128 hours, and no one is killed.
Two days later, however, LBJ tells Robert McNamara that he has received a frantic 2AM phone call from San Francisco’s mayor asking for help in finding work for the city’s young black men. (Listen to the LBJ-McNamara conversation here: this discussion begins at about 5:45.) LBJ has asked his staff to see if there might be work available around the defense industry, such as in the Navy Yards.
Then, at about 6:46, LBJ describes the impact the riots are having on support for civil rights: “These people are…these old dogs won’t hunt any more.” LBJ blames rioters for “a great revulsion taking place” against civil rights. While this is especially true in the south, LBJ adds that “the Daleys are awfully bitter” and that places like Chicago and New York are also becoming less hospitable to federal civil rights actions. LBJ refers to “my Demonstration Cities bill,” which was a bill currently before Congress that proposed an ambitious plan to partner with local governments in tackling urban problems. The fight over model cities is heated, but the bill becomes law in November.
Photo via FoundSF.