This week brought us a typical brain-dead political discussion about who did what in the civil rights movement. King! Johnson! King! Johnson!
Politics played to our lizard brains, replayed endlessly in incomplete soundbites on the 24-hour cable news do-loop station of your choice, repeatedly asks us to pick “either/or”.
But reality is nearly always about “and.”
As a tribute to the Reverend Martin Luther King today, I want to share Bill Moyers nailing that concept.
As this day ends, the day we set aside to honor Dr. King, if I don’t miss my bet, he would have been all about sharing credit with President Johnson… possibly with one or two others…
Here’s to what real leadership is all about.
Moyers on the signing of the 1965 Civil Right Act:
Martin Luther King had marched and preached and witnessed for this day. Countless ordinary people had put their bodies on the line for it; been berated, bullied and beaten, only to rise and organize and struggle on against the dogs, the guns, the bias and burning crosses. Take nothing from them. Their courage is their legacy.
But take nothing from the President who once had seen the light, but dimly, as through a dark glass and now did the right thing. Lyndon Johnson threw the full weight of his office on the side of justice.
Of course the movement had come first, watered by the blood of so many championed bravely now by the preacher-turned-prophet who would himself soon be martyred. But there is no inevitability to history. Someone has to seize and turn it. With these words, at the right moment – â€œWe shall overcomeâ€ – Lyndon Johnson transcended race and color – and history too – reminding us that a president matters.
And so do we.