Hooded Ku Klux Klan Members Supporting Barry Goldwater At The 1964 Republican National Convention

May 28, 2021

Barry Goldwater emerged from the 1964 Republican National Convention as his party's nominee, but the contentious event transformed the GOP. Goldwater's pugnacious conservatism appealed to an angry segment of the electorate that included, as we see in this colorized photo, the out-and-out racists of the Ku Klux Klan.

Source: Library of Congress, colorized by Ahmet Azar

In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater squared off in what turned out to be one of the most lopsided elections in United States history. The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 put a pall over the nation and a feeling of foreboding over the election. Johnson succeeded Kennedy after his death, running in ‘64 for his first full term. Goldwater easily won the Republican nomination over Nelson A. Rockefeller. Nevertheless, he polarized the conservative party with his failure to support the ‘64 Civil Rights Act and his tendency for war-mongering statements. However, he found many backers in the segregationist states and the Klu Klux Klan.

Wrong Hill To Die On

The Civil Rights Acts of ‘64 immediately became the most glaring distinction between Johnson and Goldwater. Johnson continually championed the bill at every turn. On the other hand, Goldwater reluctantly voted against it; only he and five other Republican senators voted against the bill. He later called the decision “one of his greatest regrets."