King and LBJ Were Civil Rights Partners

Two years ago, I had the honor of joining a congressional pilgrimage on civil rights, led by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). It was an unforgettable experience.

We went to Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma, Ala. We visited all the battlegrounds of the civil rights movement. We prayed and sang in every church where Martin Luther King preached. We visited the Rosa Parks Museum. We marched across the Edmund C. Pettis Bridge in Selma. Everywhere we went, civil rights leaders taught us about the marches, the songs, the protests, the violence, and the ever-present dream.

The last night we were there, Lewis invited Jack Valenti to tell the story of how President Lyndon Johnson teamed up with Dr. King to achieve passage of the historic Civil Rights Bill. Both Lewis and Valenti praised Johnson’s bold move. And both stressed the significance of their partnership: Dr. King deserves credit for building the civil rights movement, but LBJ deserves credit for making civil rights the law of the land.

It was clear to all of us that night, as it should be clear to every American today: It is no slur on Martin Luther King Jr. to say that he did not achieve his dream alone. He did it with the courageous leadership of Lyndon Johnson.

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