ON JUNE 4, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson rose to address the assembled graduates of Howard University on the great question facing the civil rights movement. With passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a monumental achievement outlawing discrimination in employment and other fields, to what end should the nation, and the civil rights movement, now commit themselves?
Johnson was clear in saying the job of achieving racial equality was not complete. "Freedom is not enough," he declared. "You do not wipe away the scars of centuries saying: Now, you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please." He continued, using a powerful image that would be repeated over and over again in the coming years: "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair." Johnson defined "the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights" as one in which Americans would seek "not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result."1
Written by the speechwriter Richard Goodwin and Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the address was warmly received by the civil rights community. It was meant to put Johnson ahead of the curve, to be proactive rather than reacU+0AD tive.2 But in employing the sprint metaphor, Johnson was echoing an argument made earlier by Martin Luther King, Jr., in
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Publication information: Book title: The Remedy:Class, Race, and Affirmative Action. Contributors: Richard D. Kahlenberg - Author. Publisher: Basic Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 3.
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