Obama honours civil rights, reflects progress

2014-04-10 20:18
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now

Austin - Barack Obama was 2 years old when Lyndon Baines Johnson sat in the East Room of the White House with Martin Luther King Jr and signed the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to an America where schools, restaurants and water fountains were divided by race.

Half a century later, the first black man to become president is commemorating what's been accomplished in his lifetime and recommitting the nation to fighting the deep inequalities that remain.

Obama takes the podium on Thursday afternoon on the third and final day of a 50th anniversary summit that's bringing four living presidents, civil rights leaders and cultural icons to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

The celebration comes as Johnson's legacy, four decades removed from the end of the Vietnam War, is being revisited, with his prolific domestic achievements serving as a reminder of how little Washington seems to accomplish today.

For Obama, who was criticised by some African-Americans in his first term for doing too little to help minorities, the commemoration dovetails with a focus on inequality and economic opportunity that has become an early hallmark of Obama's second term with modest success. Democrats have seized on the broader theme as their battle cry for the election year.

Lingering injustices in the US notwithstanding, the significance of Obama's participation in Thursday's ceremony isn't lost on Republican John Lewis, who withstood violence and arrest during the civil rights marches through Alabama in the mid-1960s.

"If somebody told me back in 1964 that a man of colour would be president of the United States, I would have said, 'You're crazy, you're out of your mind, you don't even know what you're talking about,'" Lewis said in an interview. "When people say to me nothing has changed, that feels like, come and walk in my shoes."

The summit kicked off on Tuesday with remarks from former President Jimmy Carter, who lamented residual racial inequality and Americans' apathy about the problem.

Former President Bill Clinton followed on Wednesday, riffing on immigration and voting rights while warning that a modern-day reluctance to work together threatened to "put us back in the dustbin of old history".

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived in Austin on Thursday morning and were scheduled to tour the LBJ library with members of Johnson's family ahead of the president's remarks. Former President George W Bush will deliver the finale in the evening.

When Americans look back 200 years from now at the nation's broader trajectory on civil rights, they'll likely single out three major markers along the way, presidential historian and LBJ biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin said: Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Act and Obama's election in 2008.

But the vision is not yet fulfilled, civil rights activists insist. They're wary of allowing celebrations of what's been accomplished to become excuses for failing to finish the job.

As activists and leaders look to the next 50 years, the focus has turned to other areas where they say injustice remains and can be reduced, including equal pay for women, same-sex marriage and poverty - an issue that echoes Johnson's own War on Poverty.

So too have voting rights attracted renewed attention in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling gutting much of the Voting Rights Act - another part of LBJ's legacy.

- AP
Read more on:    barack obama  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

LOL! 7 brutally honest texts from parents

Sometimes honesty is not the best policy!

 
 

For chic geeks...

DuckTales theme song gets 'quacked-up'
7 things you didn't know about Apple
Apple's sneaky move
Facebook testing self-destruction posts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off new fiction books!

Save 30% on new captivating books from great authors such as Wilbur Smith, James Pettereson and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to be too up in the air with your idealistic ideas. Find an anchor to help bring them into a more realistic...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.