LBJ Civil Rights Summit
The LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit will host four different Presidents before the end of the week.
The Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday, April 8 included discussions and panels about gay marriage rights, immigration policy, the place of music in civil rights activism, and a conversation with former President Jimmy Carter.
Daily Beast Editor in Chief John Avlon moderated a discussion on same-sex marriage between David Boies and Theodore Olson, attorneys who have fought for gay rights. The panel agreed that the issue at hand isn’t the right to same-sex marriage, but rather Americans’ right to marriage in general. Boies said that this issue is very similar to the 1960s fight for civil rights.
“I think that one of the parallels is that like the battle for racial civil rights, for a long time people denied that this was a civil rights issue. They defended it on religious grounds, on Constitutional grounds, on grounds of tradition, on grounds of protecting the family. All of the ways that we have over the history of our country, tried to deny to one group of our citizens the equal rights that our Declaration of Independence and Constitution promises to everybody.”
– David Boies
Boies also said that one thing that is different is how fast the issue has moved compared to other civil rights movements. Olson said that he thinks the issue would be settled within the country soon.
Discussions continued on immigration policy with Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Brian Sweany moderating a conversation between San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Tensions rose when an audience member spoke out and addressed Castro, saying that she was a dreamer and asking why deportation was not being discussed. Castro later said that he was uncomfortable with the number of deportations under the Obama administration. As that panel ended, the woman who had previously spoken up shouted at Castro as the music swelled above her.
Castro addressed the press later and said that there is always room for border security improvements.
“I also believe that the border is more secure now than it ever has been, and that the numbers and the resources at the border suggest that. However, it does make sense to set a marker for progress in this legislation and to hold folks accountable for achieving that progress in terms of border security.”
– Julian Castro
During the music panel, Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli talked with award winning singers Mavis Staples and Graham Nash separately. Both artists talked about the importance of song sparking movements, and attributed the success of the civil rights movement to music.
A conversation with former US President Jimmy Carter concluded day one of the Civil Rights Summit. Carter talked about his upbringing in the deep south, and said that he always believed in equality.
Carter said there is still a need for improvement when it comes to civil rights. He said that slavery is still a global problem.
“Slavery, at this moment, is greater than it ever was in the 19th century. It amounts to about $32 billion a year. I’m quoting the U.S. State Department who has to do this every year. And it doesn’t just exist in foreign countries. The State Department said that last people there were 800,000 people sold across international borders. Eight-hundred thousand. Of those, 80% are young girls sold into sexual slavery.”
– Jimmy Carter
The 39 President was also passionate about women’s rights, touching on slavery, sexual assault victims, and equal pay. He said that within the military and on US college campuses, there are not many cases of sexual assault reported.
“Only 4% of the rapes on college campuses are ever reported to the authorities. Four percent. That’s one out of 25 times a girl gets raped that she actually reports it to the authorities.”
– Jimmy Carter
Carter said that the US should do a better job at protecting civil rights in order to set an example for the rest of the world.
“Well right now I think the change that has taken place since Lyndon and I and others were in the White House has been the deterioration in the quality of our government processes. It’s almost a matter of incapacity to act on a crucial issue.”
– Jimmy Carter
Carter concluded by quoting one of his high school teachers, who he also quoted in his inaugural speech.
‘We must accommodate changing times, but cling to principals that never change.’ I think that’s the best philosophy I know in one sentence because fast-changing technological world brings together different kind of people, and different kind of environment, and different kind of transportation, different kind of communication, but there are certain principles in life that never change. And that has to be the bedrock for our existence.”
– Jimmy Carter
KTSW will continue to cover the LBJ Civil Rights Summit. Follow us on Twitter for live coverage of this historic event.
Tara Pohlmeyer, KTSW News