AUSTIN-America faces a new kind of “Civil War” based on a battle over ideology of the Civil Rights Act and “Great Society” legislation of Lyndon Baines Johnson and right-wing elements who criticize and work to undermine the gains of the past 50 years.
P.U.S.H. Coalition founder Jesse Jackson said the fight stems from the ignorance of those not really understanding how valuable LBJ’s work and legacy is in making America stronger.
“The dream of Martin Luther King Jr. is not under attack,” Jackson said at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Austin. “Johnson’s legislation is under attack. There is a lack of appreciation for what he did for Texas and for America.”
The LBJ Presidential Library hosted a Civil Rights Summit to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Summit, comprised of historic visits by four living presidents, panel discussions and evening keynote addresses. The summit reflected on the seminal nature of the civil rights legislation passed by President Johnson while examining civil rights issues in America and around the world today.
According to Jackson, conservatives groups have been campaigning trying to convince Americans to turn their backs on the advances of the past 50 years and are in the process of slowly chipping away at progress using the courts and legislation to unravel the Voting Rights Act, food stamp programs, affirmative action and Medicare.
“Voting is a fundamental right,” Jackson said. “The new feature that Blacks and other minorities need to understand is the new culture underway to control elections and limit and control voting rights.”
Jackson likened the new assault on rights to a new kind of “civil war”, where the Old Southern Democratic conservative thinking has not stopped.
Jackson is an American civil rights leader, Baptist minister and politician who twice ran for U.S. president. He became involved in the civil rights movement. In 1965, he went to Selma, Alabama to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 1980s he became a leading national spokesman for African-Americans.
Jackson created the organization, based in Chicago, in order to advocate black self-help and in a sense serve as Jackson’s political pulpit. In 1984 Jackson established the National Rainbow Coalition, whose mission was to establish equal rights for African-Americans, women and homosexuals. The two organizations merged in 1996 to form the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Jackson has had a tremendous impact on American politics and civil rights. In 2000 President Clinton awarded Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
According to Jackson, President Johnson overcame the pressures to remain with his party and colleagues, but decided to step out and do the right thing after civil unrest in the south and numerous discussions with Martin Luther King Jr. and other key Black civil rights leaders.
Jackson said what those who attack Johnson and his “Great Society” war on poverty don’t understand is how well the south has benefited from his work.
“Johnson’s efforts gave new economic life to the South,” he said. “The South is open for business and prospering.”
Jackson paid tribute to two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson, who he said were two of the greatest presidents from a Black perspective.
“They are the two tallest trees in the forest of America’s political landscape,” he said.
He also shared how Johnson and King broke down barriers and walls that existed between the races by opening up communication and dialog on key issues affecting all Americans.
He challenge Black Americans and other not to sit idly by and allow the gains of past years slide backward.
“”All we have fought for is under attack,” he said. “We must protect what the President Johnson and Dr. King dimension did for us and meant to us.”