At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. –President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965
At a time when the first African-American has just been elected President of the United States, it is worthwhile to look at some of the other leaders who contributed to President-Elect Obama’s historic journey.
In March, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of landmark voting rights legislation. While language in parts of the speech is antiquated by today’s standards, it was groundbreaking at the time. It had an eloquence that foreshadowed some of the thoughts in the victory speech of his successor in Chicago, 43 years later. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965. Without this single piece of legislation, it is doubtful that Mr. Obama could have been elected. Without it, Johnson believed, America would not endure.
Here is a clip from President Johnson’s historic speech. His courageous, and controversial, determination to tear down the barriers between the races and bring the African-American community into the governance of their nation can never be overstated. He would have been very proud to see an African-American member of his great Democratic party elected to the Presidency yesterday. And Americans can be very proud of President Johnson’s role in the soon-to-be 44th President’s success.