Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library

Mar 15, 2015

The LBJ Presidential Library Releases Commemorative Book
Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library

AUSTIN, Texas—“I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.” So began President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s historic speech to Congress on voting rights on March 15, 1965, in which he echoed the anthem of the civil rights movement by invoking the phrase "We Shall Overcome." On the 50th anniversary of that historic speech, which came a week after “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama and served to galvanize the cause of voting rights in America, the LBJ Presidential Library releases Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library (published by the Briscoe Center, UT Austin).

The beautiful 8 x 10 hardcover, 232-page book documents the events of April 8–10, 2014 when four presidents came to the Library in Austin, Texas to reflect on the origins and progress of the Civil Rights Act, enacted July 2, 1964. Written by Library Director Mark K. Updegrove with a foreword by Civil Rights Activist and Congressman John Lewis, the commemorative volume features speeches by Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama accompanied by 23 black-and-white and 105 color photos. Captured by a team led by Chief White House Photographers-Pulitzer Prize-winner David Hume Kennerly (Gerald R. Ford) and Eric Draper (George W. Bush)–the book’s photos include poignant archival images as well as shots from the summit that range from historical moments to more lighthearted scenes, like President Clinton taking a “selfie” with President Johnson’s great-grandson.

Commemorating the Civil Rights Summit
President Johnson played a monumental role in America’s quest for civil rights. The legacy of those efforts reached a crescendo from April 8 through 10, 2014, as the LBJ Presidential Library hosted a summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. A host of luminaries—including President Obama, and former presidents George W. Bush, Clinton, and Carter—all came to the LBJ Library to recognize the progress made in the country’s long and often troubled journey toward civil rights, each praising the courage and conviction manifested by Johnson in carrying out his civil rights agenda, but also warning that while the laws he brought to bear are in place there is still work to be done.

“We are not caretakers of the past,” LBJ said as president, “but are charged with the construction of tomorrow.” Accordingly, he wanted his presidential library to be a “springboard to the future,” a place that would be not only be a repository of things past, but also a forum to explore the issues of our day. In that spirit, Destiny of Democracy reflects on Johnson’s legacy of civil rights and commemorates the historic summit.

About Mark K. Updegrove
Mark K. Updegrove became director of the LBJ Presidential Library in October 2009. Updegrove has authored three books relating to the American presidency: Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency (2012), Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office in Times of Crisis (2009), and Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House (2006). He has written for American Heritage, The Nation, National Geographic, Parade, Texas Monthly, Politico, The Daily Beast and TIME, and has conducted exclusive interviews with five U.S. presidents.

About the LBJ Library & Museum
The LBJ Presidential Library, located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.  Dedicated in May 1971, it is the nation's fifth presidential library.  Its mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in its collections and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibits and educational programs, and to advance the LBJ Library's standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world.