Freedom's Pragmatist: Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights

Freedom's Pragmatist: Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights

Freedom's Pragmatist: Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights

Freedom's Pragmatist: Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights


"Ellis paints a portrait of a politician who, like many other politicians, often publicly sailed with the prevailing political winds of the day but who, in private, constantly exhibited a fundamental commitment to fairness and justice. Freedom's Pragmatist is a provocative and indispensable volume for students, teachers, researchers, and the general public alike in rethinking Johnson's lifelong relationship with the struggle for African American freedom and equality."--John A. Kirk, editor of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

This comprehensive and balanced study of Lyndon Johnson and civil rights is a major contribution to the field of recent U.S. history. Ellis argues convincingly that Johnson's moral vision and practical political skills were absolutely crucial to the passage of major legislation advancing the legal rights of African Americans. A splendid analysis."?Anthony Edmunds, Ball State University

Lyndon B. Johnson made several major contributions to the black freedom struggle during his time in the White House. He provided much-needed moral leadership on racial equality; secured the passage of landmark civil rights acts that ended legal segregation and ensured voting rights for blacks; pushed for affirmative action; introduced antipoverty, education, and health programs that benefited all; and made important and symbolic appointments of African Americans to key political positions.

This examination of Johnson's life from childhood through his lengthy career in politics argues that place, historical context, and personal ambition are the keys to understanding his stance on civil rights. Johnson's viewpoint, in turn, is essential to understanding the history of civil rights in the United States.


Only a Southerner will eventually smash the caste system
in the South, a Southerner who will have gained politi
cal power in the only way a Southerner can gain political
power—filibuster against any and all civil rights proposals.
But at the right moment this Southerner will gather all the
white supremacists into one room and knock their heads
together. I have a strong suspicion that the Majority Leader,
Senator Lyndon B. Johnson might possibly be that man.


I do not want to say that I have always seen this matter, in
terms of the special plight of the black man, as clearly as I
came to see it in the course of my life and experience and


Forty-three years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Barack Hussein Obama was elected president of the United States. The election of the first African American was celebrated as the ultimate achievement of the civil rights movement. The tireless and courageous acts of grassroots activists and civil rights leaders were without doubt the vital element in the story. But there was another, less celebrated side to civil rights progress in the United States. On January 7, 2008, just one day before the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, in an interview with Fox News correspondent Major Garrett, Hillary Clinton made a public statement saying that it took a president to “pass” the . . .

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