President Obama — as well as three of his predecessors — are paying tribute here this week to the man and the movement that in many ways made Obama president.
That man — President Lyndon Johnson — and the movement that forged the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are topics of a three-day 50th anniversary summit at the LBJ library that opened Tuesday.
Obama and presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are all scheduled to discuss the series of civil rights laws that continue to change American life, politics, and culture.
Those laws did many “wonderful” things, Carter said on the summit’s opening day Tuesday, but the nation is still “falling short” on parts of the civil rights agenda, notably racial disparities in employment and education.
Clinton speaks Wednesday; Obama and Bush address the summit Thursday.
Obama, who delivers the summit’s keynote address, has previously discussed the personal impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its equally high-profile companion, the Voting Rights Act signed by Johnson in 1965.
In an August ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Obama said that people demonstrated to open “doors of opportunity and education” for him and millions of others.
“Because they marched,” Obama said, “city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed — and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.”
Passed over the objections of filibustering Southern senators, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial segregation at public accommodations that included hotels, restaurants, schools and public transportation. It basically ended what civil rights activist Julian Bond, attending the summit here, called “this petty apartheid that America had.”
Source: USA Today | David Jackson