President Obama marks 50th anniversary

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

AUSTIN - A three day civil rights summit has wrapped up in Austin at the LBJ Presidential Library.

It saw the likes of civil rights giants Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, and Congressman John Lewis. In addition -- the event closed after hearing from former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

The final day was a day filled with song, speech, and reflection. It was all to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The keynote speaker to help wrap-up the summit was current President Barack Obama.

"We gather here, deep in the heart of the state that shaped him," said Obama referring to Johnson. "To recall one giant man's remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding."

Many historians believe Obama -- the country's first African American to hold the office -- is the fulfillment of the act. The president expressed that very sentiment.

"That's why I'm standing here today," said Obama. "Because of those efforts. Because of that legacy."

Obama was one of four U.S. presidents to take part in the summit. The event's final speaker was former President George W. Bush.

"Martin Luther King, Jr. called the Civil Rights Act, along with the Voting Rights Act, a second emancipation," said Bush from the 10th Floor Atrium of the library.

Like President Obama earlier -- Bush talked about the tumultuous and violent civil rights struggle -- but also hailed President Johnson as skillful and courageous in pushing for the bill.

"It required the courage and sacrifice of protestors who walked toward water hoses, and dogs, and police batons," said President Bush. "But in the end it also required a legislative strategist of uncommon determination."

Former President Bill Clinton was the featured speaker yesterday, with President Jimmy Carter taking part on Tuesday.

Despite the monumental legislation signed into law 50 years ago -- all four presidents who spoke reminded attendees that the struggle for civil rights is not over.

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