(Pictured: Lyndon Johnson gives a pen to James Farmer of the Congress for Racial Equality after signing the Voting Rights Act.)
Many thanks for your contributions to the discourse this week. I should probably keep going with stuff you’ll want to discourse about, but due to bad planning, there’s this instead.
August 6, 1965, was a Friday. President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law. It expands protections of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to prohibit racial discrimination against voters. (Last week, Johnson signed amendments to the Social Security Act, which established the federal health care programs known as Medicare and Medicaid.) Later, Johnson meets with the ambassador from Ghana, who gives him a letter asking him to suspend the bombing of North Vietnam while prime minister Kwame Nkrumah is visiting there. Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Abe Fortas are in recess. Fortas, a close personal friend of Johnson, is being scrutinized over his past ties to Communists. A ceremony is held in Hiroshima, Japan, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the atomic bombing. NASA performs a successful test of the Saturn V rocket, which is intended for use in the Apollo moon program. Elsewhere, NASA continues preparations for the flight of Gemini 5, which will launch on August 23.
Future basketball star David Robinson is born. Tonight, the pro football preseason opens with the annual College All Star Game. The 1964 NFL champion Cleveland Browns beat the top college players 24-16; Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, is named Most Valuable Player. Huarte has signed a $200,000 pro contract with the AFL’s New York Jets, turning down an offer from the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. (The Jets have also signed former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath; he and Huarte will battle for the starting job in training camp with second-year man Mike Taliaferro.) Others on the College All-Stars roster include Roger Staubach of Navy and Dick Butkus of Illinois.
The College All-Star game draws a lot of TV viewers tonight. Other shows on the air include Rawhide, The Cara Williams Show, Our Private World (a nighttime spinoff of the daytime drama As the World Turns), and International Showtime, a compilation of circus acts from around the world hosted by actor Don Ameche.
Yesterday, Jan Berry, half of the singing duo Jan and Dean, was among 17 people injured in a train accident on the set of the movie Easy Come, Easy Go. The Beatles album Help! is released in the UK; it will be out in North America one week from today, in the customary alternate configuration. The 1965 National Jazz and Blues Festival opens in the UK at Richmond. Tonight’s lineup includes the Yardbirds, the Who, and the Moody Blues. Manfred Mann and Georgie Fame are on the bill tomorrow night. On Sunday, headline acts include the Animals, Spencer Davis, and the Steam Packet.
At WABC in New York City, DJ Bob Dayton notes the Hiroshima anniversary, ending with the words, “in view of that.…” and starting up “Sixteen Candles” by the Crests, which begins with the words “happy birthday, happy birthday baby, oh, I love you so.” On the WABC All American Survey that will come out tomorrow, “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones holds at #1. “I’m a Happy Man” by the Jive Five is up to #2. “What’s New Pussycat” by Tom Jones is at #3. The Four Tops have two songs in the Top 10: “I Can’t Help Myself” at #4 and “It’s the Same Old Song,” which blasts to #9 from #41 last week. Also making big moves are “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher and “Help” by the Beatles. Among the newly charted hits this week are “Nothing But Heartaches” by the Supremes, “Don’t Just Stand There” by TV star Patty Duke, “California Girls” by the Beach Boys, and “Papa’s Got a Brand-New Bag” by James Brown.
Perspective From the Present: WABC’s Bob Dayton was swiftly fired for his Hiroshima wisecrack. After the train wreck involving the cast and crew of Easy Come, Easy Go, the project was abandoned and the movie was never finished. Steampacket, as the group was properly known, was fronted by Long John Baldry and included unknowns Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, and Rod Stewart. Abe Fortas was confimed as a Supreme Court justice, but resigned in the midst of an ethics scandal in 1969. Today, the Voting Rights Act is in grave danger from racist Republicans who fear the power it gives to minority voters, and from establishment Democrats who fail to understand that if the ongoing assault against it succeeds, American democracy is finished.