• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Telephone conversation between President Kennedy and Governor Ross Barnett.
Sunday, September 30, 1962, Midnight

Listen

President Kennedy: Well, we can't consider moving Meredith as long as, you know, there's a riot outside, 'cause he wouldn't be safe.

Governor Barnett: Sir?

JFK: We couldn't consider moving Meredith if you -- if we haven't been able to restore order outside. That's the problem, Governor.

RB: Well, uh, I'll tell you what I'll do, Mr. President. I'll go up there myself--

JFK: Well, now, how long will it take you to get there?

RB: --andI'll get a microphone and tell 'em that uh, you have agreed for him to be removed.

JFK: No. No. Now, wait a minute. How long--Wait a minute, Governor. Now, how long is it going to take you to get up there?

RB: 'Bout an hour.

JFK: Now, I'll tell you what you- if you want to go up there and then you call me from up there. Then we'll decide what we're gonna do before you make any speeches about it.

RB: Well, all right.

JFK: No sense in, uh...

RB: ...I mean, whatever you, if you'd authorize...

JFK: You see, if we don't, we got an hour to go, and that's not, uh, we may not have an hour.

RB: Uh, this, this man--

JFK: Won't it take you an hour to get up there?

RB: --this man has just died.

JFK: Did he die?

RB: Yes.

JFK: Which one? State police?

RB: A state policeman.

JFK: Yeah, well, you see, we gotta get order up there, and that's what we thought we're going to have.

RB: Mr. President, please. Why don't you, uh, can't you give an order up there to remove Meredith?

JFK: How can I remove him, Governor, when there's a riot in the street, and he may step out of that building and something happen to him? I can't remove him under those conditions.

RB: Uh, but, but--

JFK: Let's get order up there, then we can do something about Meredith.

RB: We can surround it with plenty of officials.

JFK: Well, we've gotta get somebody up there now to get order and stop the firing and the shooting. Then when, you and and I will talk on the phone about Meredith. But first we've got to get order.

RB: I'll call and tell them to get every official they can.

JFK: That's right, then you and I will talk. When they've got order there, then you and I will talk about what's the best thing to do about Meredith.

RB: All right then.

JFK: Well, thank you.

RB: All right.

 ©2017 American Public Media