OTD in History… July 15, 1960, John F. Kennedy accepts the Democratic presidential nomination

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Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

July 15, 1960

Governor Stevenson, Senator Johnson, Mr. Butler, Senator Symington, Senator Humphrey, Speaker Rayburn, Fellow Democrats, I want to express my thanks to Governor Stevenson for his generous and heart-warming introduction.

It was my great honor to place his name in nomination at the 1956 Democratic Convention, and I am delighted to have his support and his counsel and his advice in the coming months ahead.

With a deep sense of duty and high resolve, I accept your nomination.

I accept it with a full and grateful heart–without reservation–and with only one obligation–the obligation to devote every effort of body, mind and spirit to lead our Party back to victory and our Nation back to greatness.

I am grateful, too, that you have provided me with such an eloquent statement of our Party’s platform. Pledges which are made so eloquently are made to be kept. “The Rights of Man”–the civil and economic rights essential to the human dignity of all men–are indeed our goal and our first principles. This is a Platform on which I can run with enthusiasm and conviction.

And I am grateful, finally, that I can rely in the coming months on so many others–on a distinguished running-mate who brings unity to our ticket and strength to our Platform, Lyndon Johnson–on one of the most articulate statesmen of our time, Adlai Stevenson–on a great spokesman for our needs as a Nation and a people, Stuart Symington–and on that fighting campaigner whose support I welcome, President Harry S. Truman– on my traveling companion in Wisconsin and West Virginia, Senator Hubert Humphrey. On Paul Butler, our devoted and courageous Chairman.

I feel a lot safer now that they are on my side again. And I am proud of the contrast with our Republican competitors. For their ranks are apparently so thin that not one challenger has come forth with both the competence and the courage to make theirs an open convention.

I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, has taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk–new, at least since 1928. But I look at it this way: the Democratic Party has once again placed its confidence in the American people, and in their ability to render a free, fair judgment. And you have, at the same time, placed your confidence in me, and in my ability to render a free, fair judgment–to uphold the Constitution and my oath of office–and to reject any kind of religious pressure or obligation that might directly or indirectly interfere with my conduct of the Presidency in the national interest. My record of fourteen years supporting public education–supporting complete separation of church and state–and resisting pressure from any source on any issue should be clear by now to everyone.

I hope that no American, considering the really critical issues facing this country, will waste his franchise by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant. I want to stress, what some other political or religious leader may have said on this subject. It is not relevant what abuses may have existed in other countries or in other times. It is not relevant what pressures, if any, might conceivably be brought to bear on me. I am telling you now what you are entitled to know: that my decisions on any public policy will be my own–as an American, a Democrat and a free man.

Under any circumstances, however, the victory we seek in November will not be easy. We all know that in our hearts. We recognize the power of the forces that will be aligned against us. We know they will invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln on behalf of their candidate–despite the fact that the political career of their candidate has often seemed to show charity toward none and malice for all.

We know that it will not be easy to campaign against a man who has spoken or voted on every known side of every known issue. Mr. Nixon may feel it is his turn now, after the New Deal and the Fair Deal–but before he deals, someone had better cut the cards.

That “someone” may be the millions of Americans who voted for President Eisenhower but balk at his would be, self-appointed successor. For just as historians tell us that Richard I was not fit to fill the shoes of bold Henry II–and that Richard Cromwell was not fit to wear the mantle of his uncle–they might add in future years that Richard Nixon did not measure to the footsteps of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Perhaps he could carry on the party policies–the policies of Nixon, Benson, Dirksen and Goldwater. But this Nation cannot afford such a luxury. Perhaps we could better afford a Coolidge following Harding. And perhaps we could afford a Pierce following Fillmore. But after Buchanan this nation needed a Lincoln–after Taft we needed a Wilson–after Hoover we needed Franklin Roosevelt. . . . And after eight years of drugged and fitful sleep, this nation needs strong, creative Democratic leadership in the White House.

But we are not merely running against Mr. Nixon. Our task is not merely one of itemizing Republican failures. Nor is that wholly necessary. For the families forced from the farm will know how to vote without our telling them. The unemployed miners and textile workers will know how to vote. The old people without medical care–the families without a decent home–the parents of children without adequate food or schools–they all know that it’s time for a change.

But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high–to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office some twenty years ago: if we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.

Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.

Abroad, the balance of power is shifting. There are new and more terrible weapons–new and uncertain nations–new pressures of population and deprivation. One-third of the world, it has been said, may be free–but one-third is the victim of cruel repression–and the other one- third is rocked by the pangs of poverty, hunger and envy. More energy is released by the awakening of these new nations than by the fission of the atom itself.

Meanwhile, Communist influence has penetrated further into Asia, stood astride the Middle East and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Friends have slipped into neutrality–and neutrals into hostility. As our keynoter reminded us, the President who began his career by going to Korea ends it by staying away from Japan.

The world has been close to war before–but now man, who has survived all previous threats to his existence, has taken into his mortal hands the power to exterminate the entire species some seven times over.

Here at home, the changing face of the future is equally revolutionary. The New Deal and the Fair Deal were bold measures for their generations–but this is a new generation.

A technological revolution on the farm has led to an output explosion–but we have not yet learned to harness that explosion usefully, while protecting our farmers’ right to full parity income.

An urban population explosion has overcrowded our schools, cluttered up our suburbs, and increased the squalor of our slums.

A peaceful revolution for human rights–demanding an end to racial discrimination in all parts of our community life–has strained at the leashes imposed by timid executive leadership.

A medical revolution has extended the life of our elder citizens without providing the dignity and security those later years deserve. And a revolution of automation finds machines replacing men in the mines and mills of America, without replacing their incomes or their training or their needs to pay the family doctor, grocer and landlord.

There has also been a change–a slippage–in our intellectual and moral strength. Seven lean years of drouth and famine have withered a field of ideas. Blight has descended on our regulatory agencies–and a dry rot, beginning in Washington, is seeping into every corner of America–in the payola mentality, the expense account way of life, the confusion between what is legal and what is right. Too many Americans have lost their way, their will and their sense of historic purpose.

It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership–new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.

All over the world, particularly in the newer nations, young men are coming to power–men who are not bound by the traditions of the past–men who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries–young men who can cast off the old slogans and delusions and suspicions.

The Republican nominee-to-be, of course, is also a young man. But his approach is as old as McKinley. His party is the party of the past. His speeches are generalities from Poor Richard’s Almanac. Their platform, made up of left-over Democratic planks, has the courage of our old convictions. Their pledge is a pledge to the status quo–and today there can be no status quo.

For I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. They were not the captives of their own doubts, the prisoners of their own price tags. Their motto was not “every man for himself” –but “all for the common cause.” They were determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from without and within.

Today some would say that those struggles are all over–that all the horizons have been explored–that all the battles have been won– that there is no longer an American frontier.

But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won–and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier–the frontier of the 1960’s–a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises–it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook–it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric–and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party.

But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age–to all who respond to the Scriptural call: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

For courage–not complacency–is our need today–leadership–not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously. A tired nation, said David Lloyd George, is a Tory nation–and the United States today cannot afford to be either tired or Tory.

There may be those who wish to hear more–more promises to this group or that–more harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin–more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high. But my promises are in the platform you have adopted–our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.

For the harsh facts of the matter are that we stand on this frontier at a turning-point in history. We must prove all over again whether this nation–or any nation so conceived–can long endure–whether our society–with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives–can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.

Can a nation organized and governed such as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction–but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space and the inside of men’s minds?

Are we up to the task–are we equal to the challenge? Are we willing to match the Russian sacrifice of the present for the future–or must we sacrifice our future in order to enjoy the present?

That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make–a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort–between national greatness and national decline–between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy”–between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity.

All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

It has been a long road from that first snowy day in New Hampshire to this crowded convention city. Now begins another long journey, taking me into your cities and homes all over America. Give me your help, your hand, your voice, your vote. Recall with me the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.”

As we face the coming challenge, we too, shall wait upon the Lord, and ask that he renew our strength. Then shall we be equal to the test. Then we shall not be weary. And then we shall prevail.

Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: “Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles,” July 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25966.

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Political Musings April 11, 2014: Obama honors Lyndon B. Johnson and Civil Rights Act at 50th anniversary summit

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama honors Lyndon B. Johnson and Civil Rights Act at 50th anniversary summit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Fifty years ago on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the most sweeping civil rights legislation since the of the end of Civil War, and 101 years after Abraham Lincoln emancipated the African American slaves, Johnson…Continue
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Full Text Obama Presidency April 10, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech honoring 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit

Source: WH, 4-10-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential LibraryPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014. They attended a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
Austin, Texas

12:16 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please, please, have a seat.  Thank you.

What a singular honor it is for me to be here today.  I want to thank, first and foremost, the Johnson family for giving us this opportunity and the graciousness with which Michelle and I have been received.

We came down a little bit late because we were upstairs looking at some of the exhibits and some of the private offices that were used by President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson.  And Michelle was in particular interested to — of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President Johnson’s performance.  (Laughter.)  And she said, come, come, you need to listen to this.  (Laughter.)  And she pressed the button and nodded her head.  Some things do not change — (laughter) — even 50 years later.

To all the members of Congress, the warriors for justice, the elected officials and community leaders who are here today  — I want to thank you.

Four days into his sudden presidency — and the night before he would address a joint session of the Congress in which he once served — Lyndon Johnson sat around a table with his closest advisors, preparing his remarks to a shattered and grieving nation.

He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil rights bill — the most sweeping since Reconstruction.  And most of his staff counseled him against it.  They said it was hopeless; that it would anger powerful Southern Democrats and committee chairmen; that it risked derailing the rest of his domestic agenda.  And one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a President should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy they might be.  To which, it is said, President Johnson replied, “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”  (Laughter and applause.)  What the hell’s the presidency for if not to fight for causes you believe in?

Today, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible.  Some of them are here today.  We celebrate giants like John Lewis and Andrew Young and Julian Bond.  We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers — whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.

But we also gather here, deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office of the Presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating and sometimes you’re stymied.  The office humbles you.  You’re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision.

But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents — by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates; by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be.

This was President Johnson’s genius.  As a master of politics and the legislative process, he grasped like few others the power of government to bring about change.

LBJ was nothing if not a realist.  He was well aware that the law alone isn’t enough to change hearts and minds.  A full century after Lincoln’s time, he said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

He understood laws couldn’t accomplish everything.  But he also knew that only the law could anchor change, and set hearts and minds on a different course.  And a lot of Americans needed the law’s most basic protections at that time.  As Dr. King said at the time, “It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”  (Applause.)

And passing laws was what LBJ knew how to do.  No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson.  He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required.  (Laughter.)  He could wear you down with logic and argument.  He could horse trade, and he could flatter.  “You come with me on this bill,” he would reportedly tell a key Republican leader from my home state during the fight for the Civil Rights Bill, “and 200 years from now, schoolchildren will know only two names:  Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen!”  (Laughter.)  And he knew that senators would believe things like that.  (Laughter and applause.)

President Johnson liked power.  He liked the feel of it, the wielding of it.  But that hunger was harnessed and redeemed by a deeper understanding of the human condition; by a sympathy for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for the outcast.  And it was a sympathy rooted in his own experience.

As a young boy growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Johnson knew what being poor felt like.  “Poverty was so common,” he would later say, “we didn’t even know it had a name.”  (Laughter.)  The family home didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing.  Everybody worked hard, including the children.  President Johnson had known the metallic taste of hunger; the feel of a mother’s calloused hands, rubbed raw from washing and cleaning and holding a household together.  His cousin Ava remembered sweltering days spent on her hands and knees in the cotton fields, with Lyndon whispering beside her, “Boy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living than this.  There’s got to be a better way.”

It wasn’t until years later when he was teaching at a so-called Mexican school in a tiny town in Texas that he came to understand how much worse the persistent pain of poverty could be for other races in a Jim Crow South.  Oftentimes his students would show up to class hungry.  And when he’d visit their homes, he’d meet fathers who were paid slave wages by the farmers they worked for.  Those children were taught, he would later say, “that the end of life is in a beet row, a spinach field, or a cotton patch.”

Deprivation and discrimination — these were not abstractions to Lyndon Baines Johnson.  He knew that poverty and injustice are as inseparable as opportunity and justice are joined.  So that was in him from an early age.

Now, like any of us, he was not a perfect man.  His experiences in rural Texas may have stretched his moral imagination, but he was ambitious, very ambitious, a young man in a hurry to plot his own escape from poverty and to chart his own political career.  And in the Jim Crow South, that meant not challenging convention.  During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation “a farce and a sham.”  He was chosen as a vice presidential nominee in part because of his affinity with, and ability to deliver, that Southern white vote.  And at the beginning of the Kennedy administration, he shared with President Kennedy a caution towards racial controversy.

But marchers kept marching.  Four little girls were killed in a church.  Bloody Sunday happened.  The winds of change blew.  And when the time came, when LBJ stood in the Oval Office — I picture him standing there, taking up the entire doorframe, looking out over the South Lawn in a quiet moment — and asked himself what the true purpose of his office was for, what was the endpoint of his ambitions, he would reach back in his own memory and he’d remember his own experience with want.

And he knew that he had a unique capacity, as the most powerful white politician from the South, to not merely challenge the convention that had crushed the dreams of so many, but to ultimately dismantle for good the structures of legal segregation.  He’s the only guy who could do it — and he knew there would be a cost, famously saying the Democratic Party may “have lost the South for a generation.”

That’s what his presidency was for.  That’s where he meets his moment.  And possessed with an iron will, possessed with those skills that he had honed so many years in Congress, pushed and supported by a movement of those willing to sacrifice everything for their own liberation, President Johnson fought for and argued and horse traded and bullied and persuaded until ultimately he signed the Civil Rights Act into law.

And he didn’t stop there — even though his advisors again told him to wait, again told him let the dust settle, let the country absorb this momentous decision.  He shook them off.  “The meat in the coconut,” as President Johnson would put it, was the Voting Rights Act, so he fought for and passed that as well.  Immigration reform came shortly after.  And then, a Fair Housing Act.  And then, a health care law that opponents described as “socialized medicine” that would curtail America’s freedom, but ultimately freed millions of seniors from the fear that illness could rob them of dignity and security in their golden years, which we now know today as Medicare.  (Applause.)

What President Johnson understood was that equality required more than the absence of oppression.  It required the presence of economic opportunity.  He wouldn’t be as eloquent as Dr. King would be in describing that linkage, as Dr. King moved into mobilizing sanitation workers and a poor people’s movement, but he understood that connection because he had lived it.  A decent job, decent wages, health care — those, too, were civil rights worth fighting for.  An economy where hard work is rewarded and success is shared, that was his goal.  And he knew, as someone who had seen the New Deal transform the landscape of his Texas childhood, who had seen the difference electricity had made because of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the transformation concretely day in and day out in the life of his own family, he understood that government had a role to play in broadening prosperity to all those who would strive for it.

“We want to open the gates to opportunity,” President Johnson said, “But we are also going to give all our people, black and white, the help they need to walk through those gates.”

Now, if some of this sounds familiar, it’s because today we remain locked in this same great debate about equality and opportunity, and the role of government in ensuring each.  As was true 50 years ago, there are those who dismiss the Great Society as a failed experiment and an encroachment on liberty; who argue that government has become the true source of all that ails us, and that poverty is due to the moral failings of those who suffer from it.  There are also those who argue, John, that nothing has changed; that racism is so embedded in our DNA that there is no use trying politics — the game is rigged.

But such theories ignore history.  Yes, it’s true that, despite laws like the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, our society is still racked with division and poverty.  Yes, race still colors our political debates, and there have been government programs that have fallen short.  In a time when cynicism is too often passed off as wisdom, it’s perhaps easy to conclude that there are limits to change; that we are trapped by our own history; and politics is a fool’s errand, and we’d be better off if we roll back big chunks of LBJ’s legacy, or at least if we don’t put too much of our hope, invest too much of our hope in our government.

I reject such thinking.  (Applause.)  Not just because Medicare and Medicaid have lifted millions from suffering; not just because the poverty rate in this nation would be far worse without food stamps and Head Start and all the Great Society programs that survive to this day.  I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts.  Because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because I and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us.  (Applause.)

Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody — not all at once, but they swung open.  Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability.  They swung open for you, and they swung open for me.  And that’s why I’m standing here today — because of those efforts, because of that legacy.  (Applause.)

And that means we’ve got a debt to pay.  That means we can’t afford to be cynical.  Half a century later, the laws LBJ passed are now as fundamental to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  They are foundational; an essential piece of the American character.

But we are here today because we know we cannot be complacent.  For history travels not only forwards; history can travel backwards, history can travel sideways.  And securing the gains this country has made requires the vigilance of its citizens.  Our rights, our freedoms — they are not given.  They must be won.  They must be nurtured through struggle and discipline, and persistence and faith.

And one concern I have sometimes during these moments, the celebration of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the March on Washington — from a distance, sometimes these commemorations seem inevitable, they seem easy.  All the pain and difficulty and struggle and doubt — all that is rubbed away.  And we look at ourselves and we say, oh, things are just too different now;  we couldn’t possibly do what was done then — these giants, what they accomplished.  And yet, they were men and women, too.  It wasn’t easy then.  It wasn’t certain then.

Still, the story of America is a story of progress.  However slow, however incomplete, however harshly challenged at each point on our journey, however flawed our leaders, however many times we have to take a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf — the story of America is a story of progress.  And that’s true because of men like President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  (Applause.)

In so many ways, he embodied America, with all our gifts and all our flaws, in all our restlessness and all our big dreams.  This man — born into poverty, weaned in a world full of racial hatred — somehow found within himself the ability to connect his experience with the brown child in a small Texas town; the white child in Appalachia; the black child in Watts.  As powerful as he became in that Oval Office, he understood them.  He understood what it meant to be on the outside.  And he believed that their plight was his plight too; that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs; and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for.  (Applause.)

And those children were on his mind when he strode to the podium that night in the House Chamber, when he called for the vote on the Civil Rights law.  “It never occurred to me,” he said, “in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students” that he had taught so many years ago, “and to help people like them all over this country.  But now I do have that chance.  And I’ll let you in on a secret — I mean to use it.  And I hope that you will use it with me.”  (Applause.)

That was LBJ’s greatness.  That’s why we remember him.  And if there is one thing that he and this year’s anniversary should teach us, if there’s one lesson I hope that Malia and Sasha and young people everywhere learn from this day, it’s that with enough effort, and enough empathy, and enough perseverance, and enough courage, people who love their country can change it.

In his final year, President Johnson stood on this stage, racked with pain, battered by the controversies of Vietnam, looking far older than his 64 years, and he delivered what would be his final public speech.

“We have proved that great progress is possible,” he said.  “We know how much still remains to be done.  And if our efforts continue, and if our will is strong, and if our hearts are right, and if courage remains our constant companion, then, my fellow Americans, I am confident, we shall overcome.”  (Applause.)

We shall overcome.  We, the citizens of the United States.  Like Dr. King, like Abraham Lincoln, like countless citizens who have driven this country inexorably forward, President Johnson knew that ours in the end is a story of optimism, a story of achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this Earth.  He knew because he had lived that story.  He believed that together we can build an America that is more fair, more equal, and more free than the one we inherited.  He believed we make our own destiny.  And in part because of him, we must believe it as well.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
12:46 P.M. CDT

Political Musings January 9, 2014: 50 years later Obama wages own War on Poverty with the Promise Zones Initiative

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

50 years later Obama wages own War on Poverty with the Promise Zones Initiative

By Bonnie K. Goodman

In honor of the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson declaring a war on Poverty during his 1964 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama introduced his own initiative to tackle the problem, called Promise Zones in an…READ MORE

History Headlines January 8, 2014: ‘War on Poverty’ at 50: Political Clash over LBJ’s Vision

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‘War on Poverty’ at 50: Political Clash over LBJ’s Vision

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Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment” in America, Republicans and Democrats are locked in a pitched battle over whether the United States is winning – or losing…READ MORE

History Headlines January 8, 2014: The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

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The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later

Source: WH, 1-8-14

Fifty years ago, in January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” and introduced initiatives designed to improve the education, health, skills, jobs, and access to economic resources of those struggling to make ends meet.

Read the President’s statement on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty here

Take a look at the Council of Economic Advisers report here

Full Text Obama Presidency January 8, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

Source: WH, 1-8-14

As Americans, we believe that everyone who works hard deserves a chance at opportunity, and that all our citizens deserve some basic measure of security.  And so, 50 years ago, President Johnson declared a War on Poverty to help each and every American fulfill his or her basic hopes.  We created new avenues of opportunity through jobs and education, expanded access to health care for seniors, the poor, and Americans with disabilities, and helped working families make ends meet.  Without Social Security, nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty.  Today, fewer than one in seven do.  Before Medicare, only half of seniors had some form of health insurance.  Today, virtually all do.  And because we expanded pro-work and pro-family programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a recent study found that the poverty rate has fallen by nearly 40% since the 1960s, and kept millions from falling into poverty during the Great Recession.

These endeavors didn’t just make us a better country.  They reaffirmed that we are a great country.  They lived up to our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being.  But as every American knows, our work is far from over.  In the richest nation on Earth, far too many children are still born into poverty, far too few have a fair shot to escape it, and Americans of all races and backgrounds experience wages and incomes that aren’t rising, making it harder to share in the opportunities a growing economy provides.  That does not mean, as some suggest, abandoning the War on Poverty.  In fact, if we hadn’t declared “unconditional war on poverty in America,” millions more Americans would be living in poverty today.  Instead, it means we must redouble our efforts to make sure our economy works for every working American.  It means helping our businesses create new jobs with stronger wages and benefits, expanding access to education and health care, rebuilding those communities on the outskirts of hope, and constructing new ladders of opportunity for our people to climb.

We are a country that keeps the promises we’ve made.  And in a 21st century economy, we will make sure that as America grows stronger, this recovery leaves no one behind.  Because for all that has changed in the 50 years since President Johnson dedicated us to this economic and moral mission, one constant of our character has not: we are one nation and one people, and we rise or fall together.

LBJ’s oldest surviving aide remembers

HISTORY FEATURES

Source: AP, 2-13-11

The family of the oldest living aide of former President Lyndon B. Johnson is sharing 31 pages of personal reminiscences of her years at the right hand of one of the world’s most powerful men.

Mildred Stegall penned her memories of working as an aide to Lyndon B. Johnson — senator, Senate majority leader, vice president and president — 14 years ago for her family. Now 102, she lives in a Fort Worth nursing home to be near family members, who shared her memoirs with the Austin American-Statesman.

Stegall’s husband, Glynn Stegall, joined LBJ’s congressional staff in 1942. Mildred, however, resisted LBJ’s entreaties to join his staff until the mid-1950s.

She remembers her beginnings on his staff as rocky, unused to the demands and callousness for which Johnson was already notorious. “I had murder in my heart,” she wrote.

But she stayed on for 35 years, serving Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.

“I do not want to leave the impression that LBJ was somewhat of a saint — far from it,” she wrote. “He had his hang-ups, just like everybody else. He was only human and would get upset when things did not go his way.

“Sometimes he would just yell to show his displeasure; other times he would take his anger out on one of the most loyal employees when he knew full well that his anger had nothing to do with anything they had done. I cannot recall LBJ ever saying ‘I am sorry. I know it was not your fault.’ Instead, he would try to make amends in other ways.”…READ MORE

On This Day in History…. November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was Assassinated in Dallas, Texas

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. She blogs at History Musings

IN FOCUS: 47TH ANNIVERSARY OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY’S ASSASINATION

https://i2.wp.com/www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/1122-kennedy-assassination/9072754-1-eng-US/1122-Kennedy-Assassination_full_600.jpg

On this day in history… November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States (1961-63), was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. by Lee Harvey Oswald, while in a Presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas heading towards the Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was in a open limousine waving at the cheering crowd with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nelly when three shots in succession erupted, which hit the President, and the Governor. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 46 years, 30 minutes after the shooting. As news of the assassination was first announced on CBS by anchor Walter Chronkite, there was an immediate outpouring of grief by the nation that mourned the lost of an idealized young President. In a new book “The Kennedy Detail” Secret Service agent Clint Hill has said; “It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president’s death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don’t talk to anybody about that day.”

At 2:38 p.m. Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th US president, aboard Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side, still wearing the clothes stained with the President’s blood. Police arrested Oswald two hours later. Oswald, a Soviet sympathesizer with ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had shot Kennedy from the school book repository building. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner fatally shot Oswald, as he was being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail; Ruby claimed he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy any further grief.

Three days later on November 25, 1963 a state funeral was held for the slain President. It was a preceded by a repose of Kennedy’s body in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours on the 23rd. On Sunday, the 24th, the President’s coffin was carried by the same horse drawn carriage as President Franklin Deleno Roosevelt and the Unknown Soldier before him, to the Capitol building where his body laid in state for 18 hours, with 250,000 people visiting his casket.

File:Kennedy salute.gifOn Monday, one million gathered on the route of the processional from the Capitol to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where the funeral was held. Foreign dignitaries from 90 countries, including 19 heads of state came to pay their respects, and millions of Americans watched the funeral on TV, which was covered by then three big networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC. After the Requiem Mass, as the President’s body was carried from the cathedral, three year old John Jr. saluted his father’s casket giving the mourning nation an iconic image to remember. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, after the service Jackie Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains burning over the President’s grave site.


This past March historian Ellen Fitzpatrick published her book “Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation,” speaking to PBS’s Newshour about the purpose of the book and looking back at the memory of President Kennedy, she claimed; “And what I was trying to get at was how Americans in the moment viewed John F. Kennedy. It seemed to me that, in the decades since his death, there’s been so much historical revisionism, much of it appropriate, that dismantled the hagiography that grew up around him in the immediate aftermath of his assassination. But it had become increasingly difficult for students, for younger people, even people of my own generation, to recover that moment, the kind of idealism and faith that people had and the way that President Kennedy was viewed in his time…. So, I was thinking, how can I recapture this? And I went into the archives. I asked the archivist. I remembered the condolence letters. I remembered Mrs. Kennedy thanking the public.”

  • 47th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in PhotosMSNBC, 11-22-10
  • Kennedy assassination: Where were you? (Photos): Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and JFK’s assassination. Today is one of those thankfully few dates in American history that rocked the nation with a tragedy so big it stopped the clocks in people’s memories. Forty-seven years ago, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas…. – WaPo, 11-22-10
  • Nov. 22, 1963: The Death of a President Remembering the Fateful Day in Dallas When President John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated: It seems so long ago, and so recent. Those of a certain age will remember where they were 47 years ago today when they heard about the shots ringing out in Dallas. Subsequent assassinations of public figures did not quell the pain felt by the nation when President John F. Kennedy was killed, less than three years after entering office, at the age of 46. Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was waving to the cheering crowd as his motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street when gunfire was heard. The president slumped into the back seat of his open limousine with gaping wounds in his head and neck. He lost consciousness immediately…. – CBS News, 11-22-10

Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK on CBS

  • John F. Kennedy, in memoriam: It’s Nov. 22, and that may never be a normal date for political America. A full 47 years after the assassination of President John Kennedy, his murder continues to attract attention from historians, politicians, popular culture, and, of course, conspiracy theorists — just as it has since that fateful day in Dallas. The USA TODAY website has an interesting retrospective on JFK’s America, including a photo gallery… – USA Today, 11-22-10
  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 47 years ago today: Forty-seven years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade through Dallas with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas officials. Kennedy’s birthplace on Beals Street in Brookline reopened on Sunday for a small ceremony marking his death. The National Park Service, which runs the site, officially closed for the season in October. At the JFK Library in Dorchester, a memorial wreath has been installed in the lobby of the presidential library. The library recently upgraded its internet presence to focus on the date 50 years ago when JFK was elected president. The National Archives has collected hundreds of thousands of documents relating to Kennedy’s assassination and the multiple investigations into the shooting of the president. Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself murdered on Nov. 24, was charged with shooting Kennedy from the sixth floor of what was then known as Texas School Book Depository in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. The building is now a major museum. Boston Globe, 11-22-10
JFK Assination

Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas just two hours after Kennedy was shot. (Cecil Stoughton)

  • Front pages largely ignore today’s anniversary of JFK assassinationUSA Today, 11-22-10
  • JFK Assassination Anniversary: Eternal Flame Flickers but Still Burns: Forty-seven years later, it all seems part of another world defined by black-and-white television, the black-and-white certainties of the Cold War and black-and-white racial relations. Even if he had served two full terms as president, JFK (born in 1917 and afflicted with Addison’s disease) almost certainly would be long dead by now. Few remain who were close to John Kennedy (aside from his daughter, Caroline) following the deaths of Ted Kennedy last year and “ask not” speechwriter Ted Sorensen three weeks ago.
    Today’s Americans – no matter what age – have become hardened by the shock of wrenching events from the 9/11 attacks to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and the shooting of Ronald Reagan. But for teenagers born after World War II, this was not how it was supposed to be in 1963. Assassination meant John Wilkes Booth and Mrs. Lincoln’s evening at the theater…. – Politics Daily, 11-22-10
  • John F. Kennedy Assassination Still Intrigues, 47 Years Later New JFK Documentary and Motion Picture Will Probe Grim Day in Dallas: 47 years have passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the man who served less than a full term in office still casts a long shadow over the American politics and culture even as his relatives have slowly retreated from it. A new movie, as well as a documentary featuring Secret Service agents on duty in Dallas when JFK was shot, ensure that the Kennedy assassination will not fade from our minds any time soon.
    In January, when JFK’s nephew Patrick leaves Congress, it will be the first time since 1944 that no member of the Kennedy clan is on Capitol Hill. The retiring Rep. Kennedy was not even born when his uncle was killed, but the events of that day in Dallas still capture the interest of Americans. The documentary about the Secret Service is set to air Monday night on Discovery…. – ABC News, 11-22-10

Discovery JFK Assassination

  • The John F. Kennedy assassination: Four unanswered questions: The Kennedy assassination, a pivotal moment in American life, has fascinated historians, conspiracy theorists, and filmmakers, among others. Some questions might never be answered….
    Forty-seven years ago today President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It was an event of only a few seconds, but it was a hinge of history, something of such political and cultural importance that at dusk on Nov. 22, 1963, America was a different country than it had been at sunrise. Sheer shock was part of it. Almost everyone past preschool age at the time can say where they were when they heard the news, as today a new generation will always remember what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. Given its importance, the Kennedy assassination over the generations has been a subject of unending fascination to historians, filmmakers, novelists, conspiracy theorists, and ordinary citizens alike. Notable works range from director Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” a dense, purposely chaotic take that depicts the assassination as the work of a conspiracy, to attorney Vincent Bugliosi’s 2007 book “Reclaiming History,” a massive book of over 2,000 pages that attempts not just to refute conspiracy theorists, but to mock them, so that no one will take them seriously again…. – CS Monitor, 11-22-10
  • Young, old visit Dealey Plaza to mark anniversary of JFK assassinationDallas Morning News, 11-22-10
  • 47 years after JFK assassination, Sixth Floor Museum serves visitors who remember and those not yet born: Today, exactly 47 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the museum that has chronicled that fateful day finds itself in a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza wants to keep jogging the emotions of those old enough to recall the tragedy. On the other, it needs to find ways to explain the killing – using updated technology – to those who were yet to be born. “We’re at a pivotal moment right now,” said Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. “We’re changing from memory to history.”… – Dallas Morning News, 11-22-10
  • JFK’s Secret Service agents reflect on loss of a president: We couldn’t help, but we felt like we failed. It was a terrible feeling. –Jerry Blaine, former Secret Service agent
    After mostly avoiding the spotlight for decades, many of the former U.S. Secret Service agents who were assigned to protect President John F. Kennedy are now offering their accounts of the day he was assassinated, 47 years ago Monday. After the first shot hit the president, former agent Clint Hill says, “I saw him grab at his throat and lean to his left. So I jumped and ran.” Hill is the man seen running toward the limousine in the famous film of the shooting, captured by a bystander named Abraham Zapruder. Hill jumped onto the back of the presidential car, in a desperate attempt to protect the president. “Just before I got to the car, the third shot hit him in the head.” Hill says.”It was too late.”
    First lady Jackie Kennedy had climbed onto the back hood of the car, but Hill moved her back into her seat, and attempted to shield the two of them from any further bullets, as the car sped to the hospital. As the president’s head lay in her lap, Hill heard Mrs. Kennedy say, “Oh, Jack, what have they done to you?”
    A newly detailed account of the assassination is laid out in the new book “The Kennedy Detail,” by former agent Jerry Blaine, written with journalist Lisa McCubbin, based on interviews with many of the agents who covered Kennedy. Former agent Hill, who has rarely granted interviews about the shooting, wrote a foreword…. – CNN, 11-21-10
  • Kennedy bodyguard nearly shot successor: A member of John F. Kennedy’s elite security detail wrote in a new book that he nearly shot the president’s successor Lyndon Johnson, just hours after the late leader was felled by an assassin’s bullet. Gerald Blaine, a member of the US Secret Service, recounted, in his just-published book “The Kennedy Detail,” that on the night of the assassination, he was assigned to protect the newly-sworn President Lyndon Johnson. In an interview with CNN Monday, 47 years after Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 assassination, Blaine discussed how he almost mistakenly shot Johnson.
    “It was about 2:15 in the morning at The Elms, which was Johnson’s residence before he became president. I heard, all of a sudden, a person approaching,” Blaine said. The now-retired secret service agent said that, fearing an attempt against the life of the new president, he raised his gun and put his finger on the trigger, only to see Johnson rounding the corner of the residence. “He turned white, he turned around and walked in — and that was the last that was ever said of it,” Blaine recalled…. – AFP, 11-22-10
  • JFK’s Assassination: ‘Changing From Memory To History’: Most any American who was over the age of five or so on Nov. 22, 1963, has answered this question more than once: Where were you when you heard President Kennedy had been killed? Many of us were at school or at work. Many recall the moment when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite told the nation that “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time — two o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” Even the usually unflappable Cronkite had to pause for a moment, take off his glasses, and collect himself before going on.
    Today’s Dallas Morning News has a story headlined “47 Years After JFK Assassination, Sixth Floor Museum Adapts To New Era.” It underscores how things are changing as more and more Americans can’t relate to what happened in Dallas because they weren’t even born then. After all, the Census Bureau says nearly 70% of the population is under the age of 50. So, as the Morning News says:
    “On the one hand, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza wants to keep jogging the emotions of those old enough to recall the tragedy. On the other, it needs to find ways to explain the killing — using updated technology — to those who were yet to be born. “‘We’re at a pivotal moment right now,’ said Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. ‘We’re changing from memory to history.’ ”
    According to the Morning News, those who are too young to recall what happened on that day want much more than “artifacts in glass cases” and a plaza that has been “preserved to look like it did the day the president was shot.” They want interactive displays and lots of context. Adapting the museum to a changing population obviously makes sense…. – NPR, 11-22-10
  • First Poster: Katie Holmes as Jackie in ‘The Kennedys’: The eight-part miniseries premieres on The History Channel in 2011. The first promotional poster of Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy Onassis has hit the web. Monday is the 47th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. “We have these wonderful seamstresses who are creating beautiful dresses that are obviously replicas of real things [Kennedy] wore,” Holmes has said. “Her great style was both appropriate for every event that she went to and also classic, and also things that were wearable. I feel really lucky to be playing her.” The poster also shows Greg Kinnear as JFK, Barry Pepper as Bobby and Tom Wilkinson as their father, Joseph. The eight-part miniseries premieres in early 2011. It was also recently announced that Leonardo DiCaprio will star and produce a movie about the JFK’s assassination…. – Hollywood Reporter, 11-22-10
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