Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dare Not Walk Alone Puts Clinton King and LBJ Remarks in Perspective

Could America use some perspective on the heated exchanges that followed former first lady Hillary Clinton's LBJ/MLK remarks on the presidential campaign trail last week? Probably.

A good step forward would be to watch Dare Not Walk Alone, the civil rights documentary that shows what really went down on America's streets to force LBJ to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Here's what Mrs. Clinton said:

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”
Some African-American residents of St. Johns County, Florida, might disagree that it took a president to get it done. They marched for months, were harassed and beaten back for months, and in some cases spent months in jail, to make the point that a civil rights act, languishing in congress, was truly needed.

Words alone cannot evoke the feelings that were in the air at that time, feelings that come rushing back when you watch black bathers attacked with bats and chains by angry whites on the segregated Florida beaches. Where was the president then? And when the owner of a local motel poured acid into his swimming pool to force out "integrated bathers," here's what LBJ said:
"Foreign policy and everything could go to hell over this."
Those remarks, from White House tapes, never got much air play. The swimming pool incident was widely-reported, but the events leading up to it were not. And the media has never revisited the scene of these events in any depth. We made Dare Not Walk Alone to change that.

This blog is not the place to pass judgment on presidential candidates. But the coverage of this topic in the press has made it clear that too few people in America know what was really going on in 1964. It is our hope that Dare Not Walk Alone will change that.

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