February 12, 2015

It Was His Job to Enforce the Law

Lyndon Johnson was president—the executive branch of the federal government. It was his job to enforce the law. He should not have waited until Jimmie Lee Jackson’s, James Reeb’s and Viola Liuzzo’s lives were taken. He should not have waited until people were beaten and bloodied on Pettus Bridge before he enforced Negroes’ right to vote in the South. I appreciate LBJs enacting and signing the Voting Rights Act, but I wish he had been a self-starter when it came to our right to vote, so it would not have been necessary to go to the lengths that we did—organizing a mass movement and risking our safety–in order to get the vote.

It was the courage, work, thoughtfulness, sacrifice, discipline and determination of citizens of the United States that obtained our right to vote.

Historically, inventions, musical innovations and many more accomplishments and contributions developed by descendants of enslaved Africans in America have been misappropriated. We learn about presidents, battles and dates. The impression too often perpetuated in history books and in popular culture is that that you have to be a president, someone special or White to have an important idea or to achieve major accomplishments. This is an idea that disempowers citizens and should not be propagated further.

Diane Nash


civil rights movement selma jimmie lee jackson viola liuzzo james reeb voting rights lbj lyndon b. johnson diane nash


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Lynching In America: A Grim History My letter responding to this was published in today's New York Times. To the Editor: The report on lynching is a deeply needed review of the legacy