It is About Activism AND Political Power

Folks should read Joe Califano’s piece in today’s Washington Post to get some serious perspective on LBJ and Martin Luther King. His point: They worked together to achieve real change.

Folks should also read Robert Caro’s volume Master of the Senate about LBJ’s years as majority leader. It details his alliances with Hubert Humphrey and Northern liberals while bringing along Southern conservatives to pass civil rights legislation.

What we have to remember here is that LBJ, who was the subject of great anger from many of us because of Vietnam, was a truly amazing legislator and arm-twister who took serious political risks in 1957 to pass the very first substantive civil rights legislation to ensure blacks the right to vote. It was far from perfect, but it was a start.

The extraordinary activities of Dr. King and others pushed this country from “the shadow of states' rights ... to the bright sunshine of human rights,” as Humphrey said at the 1948 Democratic Convention.

For Hillary Clinton to credit a president and a courageous civil rights leader was exactly the right point. It wasn’t demeaning of Dr. King; if anything, it was an accurate portrayal of all he did to move this country into a new day.