LBJ Library

Both the Blanton Museum of Art and the LBJ Presidential Library have recently opened exhibits discussing the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The Blanton’s exhibition, Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, focuses on how art influenced the civil rights movement in the ‘60s, while March to Freedom, the LBJ Library’s exhibition, focuses on the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches.  

Both exhibitions come during February, America’s celebration of Black History Month, but they coincidentally have come during a time of heightened racial tension in the United States. Between the six-month mark of the Ferguson protests, Fiji House’s racist theme party, the Muslim-centered West Campus bomb threats and the deaths of the three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, it is becoming clear that we do not live in a post-racial America. The campus exhibitions, although focused on the past, contribute to the conversation about race for those of the UT and Austin communities because of the striking parallels between the civil rights movement and today’s racial tension.  

Witness, the Blanton’s exhibition, uses several key pieces to discuss civil rights, one of those being Nina Simone’s song “Mississippi Goddam.” Part of Witness is dedicated to Simone’s performance, and the video of her performance is featured in the exhibition. Simone’s song echoes through the galleries, urging listeners to “just try to do your very best/stand up be counted with all the rest” in regard to political activism, and for those in power to “just give me my equality.” The song, while written specifically for the civil rights era, is applicable to today’s racial protests. 

Similarly, the LBJ Library’s exhibition on the Selma marches closely parallels the recent protests against police brutality. In addition to documents and quotes on marches during the civil rights movement, the exhibit features photographs of the March 7, 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, that infamously became violent and resulted in the injuries of 50 people. The rare images will give museum-goers a glimpse of the violence 1960s black Americans faced.   

However, the parallels between the “Bloody Sunday” March and today’s racial tensions are striking. Following the early August murder of Michael Brown and the subsequent Ferguson protests, America was able to discuss the protests instantly via social media such as the revitalization of #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter. Protesters from around the nation were able to organize quickly and discuss race relations directly. The online display of race discussion and action caused the Ferguson protests to gain hundreds of supporters, sparking protests all across the nation. Similarly, Bloody Sunday was one of the first televised protests, and when Americans viewed the violent actions, the movement garnered huge support and resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both the Selma marches and the Ferguson protests had a similar desire: to establish basic human rights for black Americans, and March to Freedom highlights this fact.   

Unfortunately, the exhibitions bring up the fact that few race issues have been resolved in the last half-century. People of color’s lives are still at risk due to the underlying racism in America. However, these exhibitions, while inciting discussion, also present hope.  The civil rights movement resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and expanded black rights. In 2015, UT students are dedicated to continuing the work of the civil rights period and providing a safe campus for all students — regardless of race. The exhibitions give the Austin community a glimpse of the past, which lead us to think about our future.

Ferguson is an English and art history junior from Austin. Follow Ferguson on Twitter @LaurenFerg2.

Jack Matlock, former United States ambassador to the Soviet Union, visited the LBJ Library on Tuesday and said current American-Russian relations are intensifying.

Matlock said he fears the aggression between the U.S. and Russia is relatively high.

“The rhetoric now in Russia and Washington reminds us of the height of the Cold War,” Matlock said. “I don’t think we are entering a new cold war, even though the rhetoric sounds like it.”

In the modern political climate, Matlock believes the U.S. is taking the wrong steps in addressing Russia.

“I think we have gotten ourselves in a very dangerous situation, in terms of our relationship, in part, because we have failed to understand some of the lessons we should have learned when we ended the Cold War,” Matlock said.

After studying at Duke University, Matlock attended Columbia University, where he specialized in Russian studies. Matlock went on to teach at Dartmouth College, but decided he wanted more from his occupation later on.

“He decided he could do better things than teaching nasty undergrads,” government professor Zoltan Barany said. “He had an explicit goal in mind to become the American ambassador to the Soviet Union.”

Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library, said Matlock’s involvement in the Cold War makes him an ideal source for information on the contemporary relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

“There are few who know more and were more instrumental in the ending of the Cold War than Jack Matlock,” Updegrove said.

Matlock, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia, said the notion that the U.S. single-handedly brought an end to communism is incorrect. He said Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union and general secretary of the communist party, brought communism to an end in the Soviet Union.

“It wasn’t military pressure, but Gorbachev, who, step by step, removed the party from control,” Matlock said. “He was able to do that because the Cold War was over and the lack of military pressure from the outside freed him up to try internal reforms.”

Matlock said the Cold War ended before the Soviet Union collapsed, and communism still existed in the Soviet Union years after the Cold War had come to an end.

“What actually ended the Cold War was negotiations, backed by strength, but it wasn’t strength alone,” Matlock said. “As much as we negotiated an end to the Cold War, we proved the power of diplomacy, rather than the power of military strength.”

In this week's podcast, Jacob Kerr, Amanda Voeller and guest Madlin Mekelburg discuss the past week's Civil Rights Summit, which was hosted on the UT campus by the LBJ Library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. They also talk about the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations' report on Regent Wallace Hall.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

University police arrested three people, including one UT student, during an immigration rights protest outside the LBJ Library during President Barack Obama’s address, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

The University has charged three protesters with criminal trespassing. Undeclared freshman Emily Freeman, United We Dream leader Alejandra Gomez and GetEQUAL member Patrick Fierro were protesting as part of several immigration-related demonstrations coordinated by University Leadership Initiative over the course of the week.

Diana Morales, linguistics junior and ULI member, said the group members knew there was a chance they would be arrested.

“We knew that the three people who were there were willing to take any risk to bring our message to Obama,” Morales said. “His administration has deported over 2 million people. This is something no other president has done, and his term is not even over.”

The protest began in front of the Tower, then the group marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. statue, which four ULI members had chained themselves to and slept Wednesday night.

After leading more chants, the group marched to the LBJ Library to try and deliver their message to the President. The arrests were then made and the protest dissipated.

Mechanical engineering senior Javier Huamani, who is undocumented, said he immigrated to the U.S. with his family from Peru when he was 8 years old because of financial issues and in search of the “American Dream.” Huamani said he and his family had to work hard to survive, and they experienced constant animosity from their surrounding community.

“I would have to be discriminated against in high school … and have to pretend I was not undocumented just so people wouldn’t make fun of me,” Huamani said. “There is no shame in being undocumented, whatsoever.”

According to the Pew Hispanic Research Trends Project, there were 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living the United States in 2012, a significant rise from 3.5 million in 1990. 

Mechanical engineering freshman Michael Rukavina said he thinks the current rate of deportations under the Obama administration is understandable.

“Maybe I just don’t know enough, but I don’t see what the problem is,” Rukavina said. “Obama may have deported 2 million people, but if you’re here illegally, you have to be deported — that’s the law.”

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Scroll down to read our liveblog, which was updated throughout the day.

Update (6:17 p.m.): In his speech Thursday night at the Civil Rights Summit, former president George W. Bush focused primarily on education as both a battleground and driver of civil rights progress.

“From Little Rock Central High School to the University of Mississippi, the fight for civil rights took place in educational settings,” Bush said. “Education provides the skills necessary to expand horizons and allow for economic success. In so doing, we secure our democratic way of life.”

Check back soon for a full recap of Bush's remarks.

— Pete Stroud
 

 
Update (5:47 p.m.): Education panelists agree reform will not come from Washington, D.C.

Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-California, agreed education reform will not develop at the federal level.

“It’s going to be done, as you lament and as I lament, outside of Washington,” Miller said.

Spellings said education will be a pertinent political issue in the future.

“It's going to be a political issue, certainly on the role of the federal government in education,” Spellings said. "We have sold that education is the key to the American Dream."

In order for any education legislation to be passed, both parties will have to work together, according to Miller.

“If you keep this [partisanship] up, I think you lose your democracy,” Miller said. “You can’t get  to the remedies, because you can’t talk to one another about it. You’ve got to walk across the aisle.”

— Julia Brouillette

Updated (4:54 p.m.): SG leaders react to Obama's keynote address 

Kori Rady, Student Government president, said he enjoyed Obama’s speech and found he could apply certain aspects of it to his own life.

“His speech was as good as Obama’s speeches always are,” Rady said. “The general focus was on how to stay on course and push for what you believe in. If you look at the heart of that, you can relate it to what you do in your daily life — there was something tangible there for you to take away.”

Ugeo Williams, former SG vice president, said he found out he had a seat at the keynote address early Thursday morning.

"It felt really great seeing him,” Williams said. “I’m pretty sure I was one of the million people who felt like he was making eye contact with me."

— Madlin Mekelberg

Updated (2:36 p.m.): Q&A with Rev. Jesse Jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson, a major figure of the civil rights movement and Baptist minister who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, sat down with The Daily Texan this morning to discuss the civil rights issues he feels students in the United States are most affected by today. Read the full Q&A here.

Updated (1:48 p.m.): Three protesters arrested outside LBJ Library during Obama address

Three people, including two UT students, were arrested after protesting for immigration rights outside the LBJ Library during President Barack Obama’s address, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

Posey said the University will file charges against the three protesters for criminal trespassing.

Undeclared freshman Emily Freeman, radio-television-film freshman Alejandra Gomez and Patrick Fierro, who is not a UT student, were protesting as part of several immigration-related demonstrations coordinated by University Leadership Initiative over the course of the week.

Linguistics junior Diana Morales, a ULI member, said the group members knew there was a chance they would be arrested.

“We knew that the three people who were there were willing to take any risk to bring our message to Obama,” Morales said. “His administration has deported over 2 million people – this is something no other president has done, and his term is not even over.”

On Wednesday, ULI members, including the three people who were later arrested, chained themselves to the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on campus, where they stayed overnight.

— Adam Hamze

Updated (1:05 p.m.): In keynote, Obama highlight's LBJ's use of government as a force for good

Read the full story here

At the keynote address at the Civil Rights Summit Thursday, Obama said that though people still debate the role of government in helping promote equality, to deny that government can help forward society is to “ignore history.”


President Barack Obama delivers the keynote address at the Civil Rights Summit on Thursday morning in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium. Photo by Charlie Pearce / Daily Texan Staff

“It’s true that despite laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and Medicaid, our society is still racked with division and poverty,” Obama said. “Yes, race still colors our political debates, and yes, there have been government programs that have fallen short. There are limits to change...[but] I regret such premises, because I have lived out the legacy of LBJ’s efforts.”

Obama said major pieces of legislation, though unpopular at the time they were passed, established critical legal protections for African Americans and other American minorities.

“The law alone isn’t enough to change hearts and minds,” Obama said. “[Johnson] understood laws could not accomplish everything — but only the law could anchor change, and set minds and hearts on a different course. And a lot of Americans needed the law’s most basic protections.”

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (9:33 a.m.): In interview, Rev. Jesse Jackson shares his thoughts on the state of civil rights today

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Rev. Jesse Jackson said the rise in student loan debts is one of the biggest civil rights issues the United States is facing today.

“We should, in fact, have a plan now of student loan debt forgiveness and reaching out to that talent pool,” Jackson said. “That is one of the challenges of our time – rapidly reducing student loan debt."

Jackson said students should protest the cost of higher education.

 “America moves best when young America comes alive,” Jackson said. “You have the power to vote, to march on campuses in mass, demanding student loan debt forgiveness.”

On Wednesday, Jackson said he left a scheduled trip to Japan early to attend the final day of the Civil Rights Summit in Austin.

Check back soon for the full transcript of the interview.

— Jacob Kerr and Pete Stroud
 

Updated (9:29 a.m.): "Women: How High is the Glass Ceiling?" afternoon panel canceled 

The "Women: How High is the Glass Ceiling?" panel has been canceled this afternoon due to personal circumstances of one of the panelists, according to Elizabeth Christian, president of the LBJ Foundation. 

The afternoon panel "Social Justice in the 21st Century: Empowering Minds, Changing Hearts, and Inspiring Service," at 2:05 will continue as scheduled. 

Rev. Jesse Jackson will be giving a press conference at the Performing Arts Center following President Barack Obama's keynote address. 
 

Updated (7:00 a.m.): The second day of the Civil Rights Summit featured a speech by former President Bill Clinton, who honored two of President Lyndon B. Johnson's landmark achievements — the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — and slammed voter ID laws across the country that he said disenfranchises voters. Read about his speech here.

Read more about Wednesday's panels, which included:

1) A discussion about the relationship between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The panel featured historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Califano Jr., former special assistant to President Johnson, Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador and congressman, and historian and author Taylor Branch. Todd Purdum, Vanity Fair contriuting editor and Politico senior writer, moderated the panel.

2) A conversation with Hall of Famers Bill Russell of the NBA and Jim Brown of the NFL about their involvement in the civil rights movement in their youth. Harry Edwards, sociology professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, moderated the panel.

3) A reflection by leaders who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement. The panel featured U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, former NAACP chairman Julian Bond, and Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador and congressman. Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderated the panel. 

Other highlights from the day can be found on our Civil Rights Summit, Day 2 Liveblog.

On Monday, LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove announced that the Civil Rights Summit would be adding a panel to address discrimination against persons with disabilities. The new panel comes after the National Council on Disability released a statement Friday urging the LBJ Library to use the summit as an opportunity “to include the perspectives and contributions 54 million Americans with disabilities” in the collective conversation on civil rights. Updegrove credited the original absence of a panel on disability rights to scheduling difficulties. Though scheduling is no excuse for not including this crucial aspect of the fight for civil rights, Horns Up to the LBJ Library for recognizing their mistake and making efforts to correct it. 

After the National Council on Disability released a statement Friday addressing the lack of a panel on disabilities in the upcoming Civil Rights Summit, Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and Museum, announced Monday that a speaker is being added to the “Social Justice in the 21st Century” panel to address discrimination against citizens with disabilities.

Speaking at a press briefing, Updegrove said the Civil Rights Summit will now include Lex Frieden, who played a significant role in the formation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and will speak Thursday at 2:05 p.m. Updegrove said the summit originally did not address citizens with disabilities because of time constraints.

“I can say [that], when we were fleshing out the agenda for this, we had limited slots for different panel positions,” Updegrove said.

The statement posted on the National Council on Disability website expressed the group’s displeasure with the summit’s original decision to not include representation for the community of Americans with disabilities.

“The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency whose 15 members are appointed by the President, urges the LBJ Presidential Library to take this opportunity to include the perspectives and contributions [of] 54 million Americans with disabilities in keeping our collective eyes on the prize for every American still subject to discrimination,” the National Council on Disability said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed on July 26, 1990, and aims to guarantee equal opportunities for those with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications and state and local government services. The act is enforced through an unfunded mandate, which means states are not given resources to meet the requirements.

An upcoming conference at Texas A&M celebrating the ADA played a part in the decision to leave this aspect of civil rights out of the Summit, Updegrove said, expressing his regret for the original decision.

“Right up the road in College Station, there is going to be a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the George H. W. Bush administration, and, on their agenda, there was something about ADA,” Updegrove said. “I thought that, if they were addressing that, we would address other issues involving civil rights. It was probably a little shortsighted on my part.”

Maya Henry, assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders, said the government is not doing enough to aid many people with neurodegenerative diseases.

“I think we could do a lot better, in terms of the population that I work with, in terms of how to help them with long term rehabilitation and reintegration into the community after their brain injuries,” Henry said. “They’re massively overlooked. Insurance runs out and they’re not covered and they don’t get any help.”

Wild Art

Undeclared freshman Rodney Bravo studies outside of the LBJ library Monday afternoon.

In preparation for the upcoming Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday, barricades are set aside for road closure on the corner of Red River and Clyde Littlefield streets.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

With this week’s Civil Rights Summit starting on Tuesday at the LBJ Library, students should avoid Red River Street, Robert Dedman Drive and Clyde Littlefield Drive, according to Parking and Transportation Services officials.

PTS parking manager Linsey Duett said although the streets near the LBJ Library are expected to be congested, only one will be closed during the event.

“At this point in time, the only traffic closure will be that no vehicles will be allowed to turn eastbound onto Clyde Littlefield Drive from Robert Dedman Drive,” Duett said.

Road closures could change based on certain circumstances, in which case a notification would be sent to campus through email, according to Duett.

“[Road closures are] potentially scheduled to change on Thursday when President Obama is on campus,” Duett said.

Duett said PTS was given one month to plan traffic coordination for the summit and will be working with UTPD and the Texas Department of Public Safety to control traffic conditions on Red River. According to Duett, PTS’ two main goals while preparing for the event are safety and ensuring that traffic flows smoothly with few backups.

Duett said summit attendees will park in lots on the East side of campus and Manor Garage. According to Duett, this will temporarily displace UT parking permit holders.

Longhorn Network plans to telecast every event of the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit live this week except former President Jimmy Carter’s speech because of a prior programming commitment.

Carter is scheduled to speak with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove at the summit on Tuesday from 6-7:30 p.m., but the Longhorn Network will air Texas’ home baseball game against the Rice Owls, scheduled to start at 7 p.m., live instead.

Stacie McCollum, Longhorn Network programming and acquisition director, said the baseball game is a live programming commitment in place for months that could not be moved.

“The schedule for the Civil Rights Summit was set so we worked with [the LBJ Library] to the best that we could,” McCollum said. “The Civil Rights Summit was already scheduled based on Carter’s commitment. That was the day that worked for him. So it wasn’t a matter of picking and choosing who aired and who didn’t air live.”

Members of Carter’s staff could not be reached for comment. Texas baseball head coach Augie Garrido also declined to comment.

Kristy Ozmun, Longhorn Network local media contact, said the channel will air the Carter speech on tape delay.

“Carter is still going to air,” Ozmun said. “It’s just going to air later that evening so it won’t be live but it’ll air as soon as possible and re-air leading into Wednesday’s coverage of the Civil Rights Summit. There will be 14 hours of live programming that will air on Longhorn Network for the summit.”

McCollum said the network has aired academic programming since it launched in 2011 and has a franchise on the network called “LBJ Presents,” chronicling events put on by the LBJ Library. She said the network is in contact with the library weekly to discuss programming opportunities and the summit is an extension of that partnership.

“They recognize the commitment — the 14 hours of live programming, almost 16 total hours — but I would say they are equally pleased with our partnership and our commitment as we are with working with them,” McCollum said.

The LBJ Library, in collaboration with Google and Longhorn Network, will live stream each of the Civil Rights Summit programs on the summit’s website. Anne Wheeler, LBJ Library spokeswoman, said Carter’s speech can be seen live on the live stream. 

“The Longhorn Network is actually providing live video of president Carter’s program to television networks covering the summit and the live stream in real time,” Wheeler said. “His program is only tape delayed for Longhorn Network subscribers. We don’t have any concerns about that at all.”

According to the LBJ Library, the summit will comprise of afternoon panel discussions and evening keynote addresses — from President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Carter — reflecting on the civil rights legislation and examining current issues of civil rights.

“This is by far our biggest academic initiative to date and we see this as a great opportunity to be a part of something that is historic and newsworthy,” McCollum said. “So we are very pleased to partner with LBJ in such a big way.”