In a keynote speech on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act by Lyndon Baines Johnson, President Obama gave a reflective speech at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas this afternoon. With limited tickets and press allowed in the Auditorium, the President celebrated the accomplishments of the LBJ Presidency.
Shifting from the historic legacy of LBJ and championing his own policy agenda, Obama gave his second speech in Texas in two days. The President seemed confident as he spoke on civil and humanitarian right at the closing day of the week long Civil Rights Summit. The day before, Obama gave remarks at the memorial of the fallen soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas.
While championing the 1964 legislation on civil rights, his own administration has been battling criticism on surveillance programs, immigration and even humanitarian rights violations by the United Nations. As the Presidential motorcade arrived at the LBJ Presidential library, three individuals were arrested while protesting the current Administration's policy on immigration and deportation. Notably and timely, as Barack Obama remarked in his speech that, "The office humbles you.
In Austin for one hour however that all seemed to fade as he addressed a friendly crowd, mentioning "that's why I'm standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy."
An overall theme of the Summit has been the accomplishments of single individuals who have changed the course of history. In the closing line of his speech, President Obama gave tribute saying "He (LBJ) believed we make our own destiny. And in part because of him, we must believe it as well."
The Civil Rights Summit will close this evening with an address by President George W. Bush followed by a conversation with President Bush and Mark K. Updegrove, Director, LBJ Presidential Library.