WASHINGTON, April 5, 1968 (UPI) - President Johnson met with top Negro and Government leaders today and urged the nation "to deny violence its victory in this sorrowful time" of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King.
He also proclaimed Sunday a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader.
Johnson, who hastily arranged the top level meeting after a night of violence in a dozen cities, said at the session that "America shall not be ruled by the bullet."
His declaration served as an answer to black power militant Stokely Carmichael, who had told newsmen less than an hour earlier only a matter of blocks away, that Negroes "will have to get guns" and avenge the assassination.
Johnson called on men of "all races, all regions and all religions ... to deny violence its victory in this sorrowful time and all time to come."
"Men who are white - men who are black - must and will join together now, as never in the past, to let all the forces of division know that America shall not be ruled by bullet but only by the ballot - free and just men."
Johnson told Negro leaders assembled in the Cabinet Room that "once again, the heart of America is heavy - the spirit of America weeps - for a tragedy that denies the very meaning of our land.
"We have moved toward opening the way of hope and opportunity and justice. We have rolled away some of the stones - of inaction, of indifference, of justice.
"The work we have begun is not done. But together we shall overcome."
Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP, Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League, Housing Secretary Robert Weaver and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall were among the Negro leaders who assembled at the White House.
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Defense Secretary Clark Clifford joined the high-level talks. Others included Mayors Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind.; and Walter Washington of Washington, D.C., both Negroes; Bayard Rustin, a New York and civil rights leader; House Speaker John W. McCormack, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield, Senate Republican Whip Thomas Kuchell (Calif.), and Cong. William M. McCulloch (R-O.)
After the White House meeting, the President and other participants went to National Cathedral for a memorial service for King. King spoke there Sunday night in his last appearance in Washington.
Within an hour of King's death last night, Johnson broadcast an appeal for calm.
"We can achieve nothing by lawlessness and divisiveness by the American people," the President said.
Hundreds of telephone calls came to the White House, some from as far as Sydney, Australia. Many callers suggested memorials to Martin Luther King and a number of congressmen said the first should be House action on a bill providing an "open housing" law for which King had marched and for which he was to have marched here again on Apr. 22, leading a "poor people's crusade."