AUSTIN -- Fifty years ago President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed a historic piece of legislation. The Civil Rights Act outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. The LBJ Library and Museum is celebrating this anniversary and will hold a civil rights summit to remember what that bill means and how far our nation still has to go.
Saloni Howard-Sarin and her family visited the LBJ Library and Museum Monday. She wants her son to understand the importance of the civil rights era.
“Martin Luther King, the marches of the 60s, the legislation that was passed in the 60s and the change that happened in the 60s; we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” Howard-Sarin said.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act, the library is holding a three-day civil rights summit in April. Many, such as John Lewis, Andrew Young and others who fought for equality in the public eye and behind the scenes will be on hand, along with former commanders in chief.
“President Carter will be speaking on April 8th, President Clinton will speak on April 9th. We have extended an invitation to President George W. Bush to speak on April 10th, and we're fairly certain that he's coming,” said Anne Wheeler, a spokesperson for the library.
Thursday, Feb. 27, the LBJ Library announced that Pres. Barack Obama will attend the summit as well.
Panel discussions will also feature academics and LBJ's daughters, Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb.
While the summit will talk about the civil rights triumphs in the past, it's also going to focus on the present day with issues such as education, immigration, music as a catalyst for change and getting more young people involved in public service.
Nine-year-old Brij Howard-Sarin says those issues and others such as gay rights are what he and his peers will focus on solving in the future.
“As a new generation you have to do something,” he said. ”Whether it's good or bad, it's for you to decide and for you to do.”
The summit comes as Johnson's family revisits his legacy, attempting to lift the shadow the Vietnam War cast on his domestic agenda.
Subsequent events will mark the 50th anniversaries of other Johnson initiatives, including Medicare, the Clean Air Act, seatbelt requirements and cigarette health warnings.
The panel discussions and keynote addresses will be free and open to the public, but space is extremely limited. The LBJ Library says it's still deciding how to distribute tickets.
The summit runs from April 8th to the 10th.