President Obama to speak at Civil Rights Summit

Madlin Mekelburg

President Barack Obama will deliver a keynote address at the LBJ Library and Presidential Museum’s Civil Rights Summit in April celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Obama’s address will follow two days of speeches from former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Former president George W. Bush is also tentatively scheduled to speak.

The three-day summit, which will begin April 8, is one of many events related to civil rights that the University, LBJ Library, LBJ School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Foundation will host over the next several years.

“We are truly honored to host President Obama as the keynote speaker at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit in April,” said library director Mark Updegrove in a press release. “As our first African-American President, [Obama] is the fulfillment of the promise of the civil rights legislation delivered by President Johnson and a bipartisan Congress.”

Former first daughters Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson will also make presentations at the summit, alongside a list of speakers including President William Powers Jr., former UT president Larry Faulkner, former NBA center Bill Russell and former NFL running back Jim Brown. First lady Michelle Obama will accompany the president.

History professor Henry Brands said the Civil Rights Act had an incomparable impact in the civil rights movement.

“The reason for the celebration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is that it did more than any other piece of legislation to secure equal rights to African-Americans,” Brands said. “It ended the Jim Crow system of segregation that had existed for decades, and it brought the South into line with the rest of the country. The modern South, including Texas, would not have come into being without it.”

In May 2013, Obama visited Austin on his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity tour, as part of his campaign to promote manufacturing and innovative research.