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JFK Campaigns for the Presidency in Texas (1960)

Roger Simon

Sound | 1960

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  •  John F. Kennedy’s plane touches down at Meacham Field in Fort Worth, where he and Lyndon B. Johnson wave to the crowd as they disembark 
  •  Kennedy's press aide Pierre Salinger talks briefly with him. Mr. Salinger would become White House Press Secretary during the Kennedy administration and the early part of the Johnson administration. 
  •  Sam Rayburn and LBJ flank the presidential candidate in a convertible as they’re escorted to their first stop at Burnett Park 
  •  15,000 people gather to hear Kennedy speak at Burnett Park 
  •  Kennedy shakes hands and chats with John Connally, the future Governor of Texas 
  •  Kennedy stands with his sister Pat Lawford to his right and  Edna Willy to his left. Edna Willy was the widow of Lt. Wilford John Willy, a pilot who perished alongside JFK’s brother Joe when their plane exploded over England during WWII. 
  •  Sam Rayburn and Ralph Yarborough look on, perhaps a little amused? Barefoot Sanders sits behind them. Sanders would soon be appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas by Kennedy. 
  •  Texas Representative from Fort Worth Jim Wright introduces Johnson and Kennedy. Wright would go on to become House Majority Leader, then Speaker of the House. 
  •  A snippet of JFK’s speech is audible here 
  •  Mayor Tom Vandergriff, Arlington Texas, and Arlington State Bank 
  •  LBJ and JFK use the back of a convertible and microphone as a podium 
  •  The Chance Vought Aircraft factory at the Dallas Naval Air Station, where Kennedy was presented with a cowboy hat which he can be seen waving as his car pulls away 
  •  The Kilgore Rangerettes, who marched in a parade for Nixon just the day before, now lead Kennedy’s motorcade down Main Street in Dallas 
  •  The "rebel flag" was usually a sign of protest against JFK in his rallies in the South, but this young man carries a rebel flag with "Kennedy Johnson" on it. 
  •  Dallas’ Memorial Auditorium fills up with 9,500 Kennedy supporters 
  •  James Simon begins his interview about Operation Crossroads Africa 
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On September 12, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson touched down in Texas for a couple days of campaigning. This rare film captures the campaign as it travels through Forth Worth and Dallas, stopping in parks and parking lots as Kennedy addresses unexpectedly large crowds. While most of this film is without audio, there is a segment of JFK’s speech in Burnett Park in Fort Worth that can be heard. In it, he responds to Republican accusations that he is not a true member of the Democratic party. The crowd responds enthusiastically. In addition to JFK and LBJ, Sam Rayburn, Ralph Yarborough, Barefoot Sanders, Jim Wright, and JFK’s sister Pat Lawford all appear in the film. Later scenes include an interview with James Simon, a journalist and legal scholar from Fort Worth. Simon has worked for Time Magazine, was the Dean of New York Law School in the 1980s - 90s, and has published numerous books on American legal history. In this footage, Simon was between his junior and senior years of college and had just returned from Ghana as a part of his work with Operation Crossroads Africa. This interview discusses his time there and his experience with the Ghanaian people. Simon received this copy of his interview and the preceding footage from WBAP-TV, the station on which it aired, now called KXAS.
Thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on a hill country farm near Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908 to Samuel Ealy Johnson, a former Texas legislator, and Rebekah Baines Johnson.  He attended Southwest Teachers College, now Texas-State University, graduating with a degree in history and social science in 1930. LBJ spent one year as principal and teacher in Cotulla, educating impoverished Hispanic elementary school students. LBJ became the secretary to Texas Congressman Richard M. Kleberg in 1931; the four year position helped him gain influential contacts in Washington. Johnson married Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor on November 17, 1934.
LBJ acted as Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas from 1935 to 1937. Johnson won his first legislative election in 1937 for the Tenth Congressional District, a position he held for eleven years. He was a firm supporter of President Roosevelt’s New Deal and in 1940 acted as Chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee. In 1948, following his service as a Lieutenant Naval Commander during World War II, LBJ ran as the Democratic nominee for Senate. In a cloud of controversy, he narrowly defeated former Texas Governor Coke Stevens and easily beat his Republican opponent in the general election.  Before winning his second senate term, LBJ was elected Majority Whip in 1951, became the youngest ever Minority Senate Leader in 1953, and was voted Majority Leader in 1954. Johnson unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 but was selected to be Vice-President under John F. Kennedy. 
Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 and won reelection in 1964. President Johnson passed landmark legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Debate over military efforts in Vietnam intensified in late 1963 when the President stated that the United States would not withdraw from Southeast Asia. Escalation of the war against North Vietnam brought disapproval from Democrats, claiming the efforts were misguided, and from Republicans who criticized the administration for not executing sufficient military vigor. Antiwar protests, urban riots, and racial tension eroded Johnson’s political base by 1967, which further dissolved following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that we would not seek a second Presidential term.
After returning to Texas, Johnson oversaw the construction of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Throughout his political career, LBJ was an influential figure in Texas affairs; his policies brought military bases, crop subsidies, government facilities, and federal jobs to the state. After suffering a massive heart attack, former President Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973. In February of the same year, NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, in honor of one of the country’s most influential Texans. 
Texas congressmen and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, was born in Roane County, Tennessee on January 6, 1882. In 1887 the Rayburn family moved from Tennessee to a cotton farm near Windom, Texas. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas Normal College (now Texas A&M University–Commerce), he taught school for two years then left to pursue a career in law. In 1906, Rayburn won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives and attended law school at the University of Texas between legislative sessions. He served in the state legislature for two more terms, serving as Speaker in 1910. 
In 1912, Rayburn was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from the Fourth Texas District. He had no Republican opponent during his congressional career and maintained one of the longest records of service in the house at 48 years. Congressman Rayburn was elected Speaker of the House in 1940 and continued as Speaker in every Democratically controlled Congress from 1940-1961, serving as minority-leader during the two Republican periods. During his congressional career, Rayburn participated in the passage of some of the most influential legislation and was a leading supporter of the New Deal. The Congressman passed the Truth in Securities Act, The Rural Electrification Act, the Public Utilities Holding Act, and the Emergency Railroad Transportation Act while chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee from 1931 to 1937. Rayburn worked closely with Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson during the Eisenhower administration, supporting LBJ in his campaign for the presidency and later vice-presidency. 
Respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, Rayburn’s personal integrity was legendary. The Congressman refused money from lobbyists and was effective in dealing with his constituents. Rayburn’s efforts brought farm-to-market roads, Lake Texoma, Lavon Lake, The Veteran Administrative Hospital in McKinney, and Perrin Field Sir Force Base to Texas’s fourth district. In 1949 Rayburn was awarded the Collier’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Nation, and the $10,000 award served as the basis for establishing the Sam Rayburn Library at Bonham. The library was dedicated by former President Truman in 1957 and housed Rayburn’s public and private papers until they were moved to the University of Texas. Sam Rayburn died of cancer in 1961 and is buried in Bonham. 
Ralph Webster Yarborough, known as "Smilin' Ralph," was a U.S. senator representing Texas from 1957 through 1971. Yarborough was born in Chandler, Texas in 1903 as the seventh of nine children, and went on to attend Sam Houston State Teachers College as a young man before attending the University of Texas, where he graduated from the law school in 1927.
In 1931, Yarborough began a short but notable career as an assistant attorney general.  As an expert in Texas land law assigned to represent the interests of the Permanent School Fund, Yarborough won a number of cases against major oil companies such as Magnolia Petroleum and Mid-Kansas, through which he was able to guarantee that public schools and universities receive revenues from Texas oil.  This litigation has since brought billions of dollars to public education.
In 1938, Yarborough decided to run for attorney general but lost; it would take another 12 years for him to run for any kind of office again. In the interim, he served in the Texas National Guard and the U.S. Army during World War II. In 1952, running against conservative incumbent R. Allan Shivers for the governorship, Yarborough lost his second race. He continued this losing streak against Shivers in the 1954 primary and then again against Senator Marion Price Daniel, Sr. in 1956. In 1957, however, he was able to win Daniel's vacated seat in the senate next to Lyndon Baines Johnson.
In the senate, Yarborough pursued a progressive agenda, first refusing to sign the Southern Manifesto against desegregation and then being one of only five Southern senators to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1957. For the environment, he pushed through a bill to elevate Padre Island to the status of National Seashore.  For education, he introduced the first Bilingual Education Act in 1967, which was signed into law a year later.  He worked to expand health care funding and to extend the G.I. Bill to Cold War veterans.  In 1969, Yarborough chaired the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.
Aside from his legislation, Ralph Yarborough is also remembered for riding in the 1963 Dallas motorcade in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  The story goes that, being at odds with several of the other politicians on the President's tour, Yarborough originally refused to share a car with LBJ, who was friends with his rivals. This so outraged Kennedy that on the morning of the motorcade he took Yarborough aside and threatened to end their friendship if Yarborough did not cooperate.  The senator conceded and ended up just two cars behind the president when he was fatally shot that afternoon.  When interviewed about that day, Yarborough described it as "the most tragic event of my life."
In 1970, Yarborough lost his seat in an upset election against Lloyd Bentsen. While he ran once more for office, he did not win again.
In 1996, Yarborough died at the age of 92. He is buried in Austin at the Texas State Cemetery.
Congressman James Claude Wright, Jr.—better known as Jim Wright—was born on December 22, 1922 in Fort Worth. Due to his father’s job as a traveling salesman, Wright moved frequently, eventually graduating from Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. He studied at Weatherford College and the University of Texas at Austin, but never received a bachelor’s degree. 
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Wright enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces, ultimately serving as a bombardier in the South Pacific. After the war, Wright returned to Weatherford, where he formed a Trade Show exhibition and marketing firm. 
Wright began his career in politics in 1946 when he was elected without opposition to the Texas House of Representatives. After losing his reelection campaign in 1948, he served as the mayor of Weatherford from 1950 to 1954. 
In 1954, Wright was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from Texas’ 12th congressional district. Holding the seat for 34 years, he gradually rose in prominence in both the party and Congress. Wright became the House House Majority Leader in 1976, and Speaker of the House in 1986. During his time as a legislator, Wright served as a senior member of the Public Works Committee and promoted peace in Central America.
In 1988, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Wright, reporting in 1989 that he used bulk purchases of his book to earn speaking fees in excess of the allowed maximum. That same year, Wright also became the target of public criticism after media reports revealed that his main aide, John Mack, had violently attacked a woman 16 years earlier, and alleged that Wright (whose daughter was married to Mack’s brother) had manipulated the legal system in order to release Mack from prison only 27 months into his 15-year sentence. The resulting scandal from both incidents led Wright to resign from his post as Speaker as well as his seat in Congress in May and June of 1989, respectively. 
After leaving Congress, Wright retired to Fort Worth, teaching as a professor at Texas Christian University and writing several books. He passed away on May 6, 2015, at the age of 92. Upon his death, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated, “Speaker Wright’s strong, decisive leadership built an indelible legacy of progress, not only in his beloved state of Texas, but around the world.” 
Barefoot Sanders was a democratic politician from Texas and a United States District Judge perhaps best known for his role in desegregating the Dallas Independent School District.
Harold Barefoot Sanders was born in Dallas on February 5, 1925 to H.B. Sanders and May Elizabeth Forrester. He eventually went by “Barefoot,” his grandmother’s maiden name. After serving in the navy during World War II, he attended the University of Texas, where he studied law and served as both head cheerleader and student body president. He married Jan Scurlock and had four children. In the 1950s, Sanders served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. After an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives, President Kennedy appointed him as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Sanders was not far behind Kennedy in the motorcade during the assassination.
He went on to work in the Justice Department, serve as Legislative Counsel to the President during the Johnson administration, and served as a Federal Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas beginning in 1979. The Dallas Independent School District began desegregating in 1961 and declared itself fully desegregated in 1967. However, a lawsuit was filed against DISD citing continuing discrimination, which was prohibited under Brown v. Board of Education. Multiple desegregation trials took place over the next decade, and the case was turned over to Barefoot Sanders in 1981. He ruled that the district had continued policies of segregation and ordered his own plan to be implemented. The school rejected his decision until 1983. He continued to oversee the district until 2003, when he ruled that DISD was desegregated. Sanders held his position as a Federal Judge until his death on September 21, 2008. 
Dance drill teams originated in Texas as pep squads for high school football games that would perform much simpler routines than those often seen nowadays, focusing primarily on marching. The first pep squad was formed by Gussie Nell Davis in 1929 at Greenville High School in Greenville, Texas. In 1939, Davis was recruited by Kilgore College to form the first college drill team, the Rangerettes. The dean of Kilgore College, B. E. Masters, wanted to attract women to the predominantly male school. The Rangerettes set the standard for drill teams across the state and nation, including the signature white boots that make up part of their uniform. The Rangerettes have performed in countries such as Venezuela, Korea, Romania, France, Japan, and Singapore; in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Dublin, Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade; and in the second inaugural parade of President George W. Bush. They have performed at every Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas since 1951.