Lyndon Baines Johnson provided the stage for Obama's Triumph
Witnessing Obama through LBJ
Election Night: Witnessing Obama’s Victory at LBJ's Hotel in Austin, Texas
From NBC's Rich Gardella
November 11, 2008
Some excerpts :
My thoughts turned to LBJ. What would the 36th President’s reactions have been, had he been able to watch this night’s election returns at his old hotel, and observe that moment? A white politician instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964, prohibiting racial segregation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave millions of African-Americans in the South the right to vote. The President who appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to the Supreme Court.
Lyndon Johnson left some good clues to how he would have reacted to that moment of history in the commencement address he delivered to graduates at Howard University in June 1965. The title of the speech was "To Fulfill These Rights." Its words ring powerfully if you imagine them playing over scenes of Election Night 2008: .
“In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope. In our time change has come to this Nation, too.”
“The voting rights bill [of 1965] will be the latest, and among the most important, in a long series of victories. But this victory -- as Winston Churchill said of another triumph for freedom -- "is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
“This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
That day, Johnson expressed long-term goals for the civil rights movement: .
“…to help the American Negro fulfill the rights which, after the long time of injustice, he is finally about to secure. To move beyond opportunity to achievement. To shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong--great wrong--to the children of God.”