Obama to honor LBJ’s civil rights legacy: President Barack Obama on Thursday will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. A lot of people have compared Obama with Lyndon B. Johnson recently. The LBJ people want to rescue his legacy from Vietnam. In a piece in the National Journal, George Condon argues Obama staffers don’t want their guy’s star put up next to the coarse-mouthed Texan. But you can’t argue that Johnson didn’t get a lot done in his first few years in office. Civil rights legislation, the Great Society programs and Medicare and Medicaid – these are legacy items with a more lasting imprint on American culture and society than most presidents can claim.
David Jackson puts it well in USA Today: “There was a time – a long time – when Democratic presidential candidates would not even utter the name Lyndon Baines Johnson. This week, the three Democrats elected president since Johnson traveled to Texas to honor the memory of LBJ – a president once reviled for the Vietnam War, now revered for a domestic record that includes landmark civil rights laws.”
Jackson’s piece points out that when Bill Clinton visited the LBJ library during a 1992 campaign stop, he didn’t once utter the late president’s name.
Today, Texas is on the front lines in the debate over whether some civil rights legislation signed into law by Johnson remains necessary.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama are facing off against Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Supreme Court over key portions of the Voting Rights Act (which turns 50 next year).
Obama, speaking at a fund-raiser Wednesday in Houston, drew attention to the federal battle with Texas, which wants to reclaim full autonomy over redistricting. The Voting Rights Act forces states with a history of discrimination to clear new districts with the Justice Department.
The president called these “active efforts to deter people from voting.”
“The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American,” he said, according to Politico. “How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.”