The Least, First

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Archive for February 1st, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. on LBJ’s civil rights role

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Martin Luther King, Jr.Much buzz – including a post of mine – was made of Lyndon JohnsonHillary Clinton’s comments on Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Over at MotherJonesBlog, researchers have found some comments on Johnson’s leadership from King himself.

clipped from

SEN. CLINTON: I would point to the fact that Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality. The power of that dream became real in people’s lives because we had a president who said, “We are going to do it,” and actually got it accomplished.

DR. KING: No president has really done very much for the American Negro, though the past two presidents have received much undeserved credit for helping us. This credit has accrued to Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy only because it was during their administrations that Negroes began doing more for themselves. Kennedy didn’t voluntarily submit a civil rights bill, nor did Lyndon Johnson. […] [after commenting that Johnson ultimately did push the bill, he writes] President Johnson has not been nearly so diligent in implementing the bills he has helped shepherd through Congress.

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It appears that presidents generally have been dragged along, rather than leading the way. Such is the nature of social change: people lead, politicians follow.

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Written by Monte

February 1, 2008 at 9:39 pm