211. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Moyers) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

This is your first speech on Africa.2 It is an effort to lay the foundation for a Johnson Doctrine for Africa.

Even so, it is only 2003 words.

I have sought help in ideas and language from such eminent authorities as Walt Rostow, Lady Jackson (who is in Cambridge, Mass. this week), Waldemar Neilson of the African-American Institute in New York, and others.

I am not sure what domestic play it will get, but I can assure you—it will be big news throughout the world if Section One is permitted to stand. This is the Section that deals with self-determination, Rhodesia, racial inequality in Africa, etc. There is no new policy in it, but this will be the first time the President will have spoken out on the issue. As such, that makes it good news. Except in South Africa and Rhodesia and other outposts of injustice, it will splash big headlines.

As you know, I think it is important to speak out this once on the subject for foreign policy reasons as well as for its impact on the civil rights people at home; it is a cheap way to keep them quiet on at least one issue.

There is also another reason. Bobby Kennedy goes to South Africa next week. He will try to get ahead of you on the question of political liberty for Negro Africans. Your speech preempts the stage. I think it would be wrong for us simply to offer economic assistance and material aid while Kennedy trots off making hay on the intangible issue of the rights of man. The attached speech is reasonable and restrained, but it will nonetheless make it difficult for Bobby to get far ahead of you on this issue.

I am giving copies to Rostow for clearance with State. Frankly, I wish we could come out harder and more concretely on the Rhodesian thing.

Bill Moyers 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Africa, General, Vol. 4, 3/6–5/66. No classification marking.
  2. For text of Johnson’s speech on May 26, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966, Book I, pp. 556–560. The President delivered the address at a White House reception observing the third anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.