Wednesday October 7th, 2015 4:31AM

The day the 'war on poverty' came to Gainesville

By Ken Stanford Reporter
GAINESVILLE - Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson was in Gainesville to lobby for his "war on poverty."

The Gainesville stop was one of several during a five-state swing across the country to promote the campaign (see third link below) which Johnson had kicked off January 8, 1964, in his State of the Union speech.

After a breakfast meeting and speech in Atlanta, Johnson helicoptered to the Gainesville airport, where they were welcomed by numerous local and state leaders and the Gainesville High School band. (You can read the text of the remarks the president made at the airport by clicking on the first link below.)

The official welcome was not given by the mayor or the county commission chairman or the head of the chamber of commerce or some other government, business or civic leader. But that honor went to a 12-year-old boy, Charles Overby, a recipient of a Carnegie Hero Fund bronze medal.

According to a story in the Corsicana (Tex.) Daily Sun, Overby had been awarded the medal for saving the life of a younger boy who was about to be hit by a train.

"Mr. President," the paper quoted Overby as saying, "I want to welcome you on behalf of Hall County and northeast Georgia."

Replied the president, according to the story: "I've never been welcomed better."

After the welcoming ceremony at the airport, a motorcade then carried Johnson and his entourage to downtown Gainesville.

Johnson spoke at Roosevelt Square, using the same podium that President Franklin D. Roosevelt used in 1936 when he visited Gainesville not long after the deadly and devastating tornado that struck the city on April 6 that year. Johnson made an impassioned plea for not only passage of his war on poverty, authored by then-9th District Congressman Phil Landrum, but the Civil Rights Act, as well. (You can read the text of the president's downtown speech by clicking on the second link below.)


The New York Times covered the president's visit to Atlanta and Gainesville, devoting several paragraphs to his visit in a story that also included an account of Johnson's stop earlier in the day in Atlanta.

The Times noted that Johnson's motorcade into town stopped at a store owned by Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Buttler, an African-American couple that had been doing business there since 1910, where he visited with the Buttlers and a number of their neighbors. The motorcade also stopped at a house owned Mrs. Eva Russell. There, Johnson visited with Mrs. Russell, her son Johnny and Mrs. Robert H. Helton.

The New York Times' story reported that the crowd filled the area between city hall and the county courthouse, an estimated 40,000-50,000.

To read the entire story, you can visit

It was LBJ's second visit to Gainesville in four years. In May 1960, he campaigned here while running for Vice President on the Democratic ticket with John F. Kennedy.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Pictures courtesy The Hall County Library System,, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, and YouTube.)
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 9 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 9 months ago )
Cornelia keeping same millage; taxes up slightly
Even though the tax digest for Cornelia is up $1.7 million due to inflationary increase, city leaders anticipate collecting less taxes for Tax Year 2015.
9:48PM ( 6 hours ago )
Helen approves water line project at lower cost, better return
The Helen City Commission has approved changing a planned water line, a move their engineering firm will save the city money and produce better results.
9:07PM ( 7 hours ago )
Gainesville approves millage rate, asked to rethink some aspects of the rate
The millage rate for property owners in the City of Gainesville is now officially set, but final approval was not without some dissent.
9:05PM ( 7 hours ago )
Demorest man charged with setting fire in Clarkesville
State investigators have made an arrest in connection with a Sept. 26 arson fire near Clarkesville.
8:47PM ( 7 hours ago )
State official celebrates Pre-K Week at Gainesville school
State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black visited New Holland Knowledge Academy this morning to read to Pre-K students.
By AccessWDUN staff
6:10PM ( 10 hours ago )