Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "Civil Rights Act"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
I read people type that LBJ was a super racist who only signed the civil rights act for political reasons, and that even George Wallace would have signed it if he were president. Is this true?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, it’s not true. LBJ was definitely a consummate politician, but he believed in civil rights dating back to his time as a teacher at a small school for Mexican-American children in Cotulla, Texas. He believed that the time had to be right in order to line up the number of votes needed to pass civil rights legislation, but he also recognized that the time was long overdue and he could not continue to ask for patience or sacrifice. LBJ also pushed hard for the Voting Rights Act and that was for political reasons, but not the cynical political reasons that people suggest. LBJ understood that true power and influence for minorities would come when they had the ability to vote out those political leaders who were holding them back. That was when things changed. The “political reason” was giving political power to the segment of population that had been long discriminated against and denied their civil rights. LBJ was already the most powerful person in the world, and fighting for effective civil rights legislation wasn’t going to help him at the polls in his home state of Texas. Lyndon Johnson had a lot of faults, but there wasn’t anything selfish for LBJ in signing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and any other general civil rights legislation or specific bills prohibiting discrimination that the President put his name to during his Administration.

And George Wallace? Come on! George Wallace?! As Governor of Alabama, George Wallace literally stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama and tried to prevent black students from integrating the school. He’s also the guy who called for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his gubernatorial inaugural address. I don’t care if or when or how his viewpoint on race and segregation changed — George Wallace can’t even be hypothetically inserted into this discussion. Wallace might have signed the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act in the 1980s if he had been President, but he wouldn’t have signed either piece of legislation in the 1960s, and as Governor of a Southern state during that time, he actively fought against it to the point that enforcing the new laws required federal oversight and intervention.

Like I said earlier, I’m doing some organizing of the files on my computer and finding some great little photos that I may or may not have previously posted.  Despite what I do, I’ve never really been drawn to political cartoons — even those from what might be the golden age of American political cartoons stretching from the time of Jackson to Lincoln when they were particularly creative and often quite brutal.

However, I’d love a large print of this one.  I forget which newspaper it ran in, but I believe it was published the morning after LBJ died in January 1973.  This print is located in the stairwell leading to the basement restrooms at the LBJ Library in Austin and I never walked past it without wondering if I could pull it off the wall and make it out the door before security tackled me.