Jimmy Carter

The Civil Rights Summit, held on the UT campus last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1964’s Civil Rights Act, certainly made history. Three former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, all joined President Barack Obama in Austin to commemorate the occasion, each one delivering a keynote address through the week — an unprecedented occurrence. 

But, though the summit was historic, students must think critically about the presidents’ words and the actions behind them because the issues at stake deserve more than just empty political rhetoric. 

The first president to speak, Jimmy Carter, addressed the prevalence of sexual abuse on college campuses. “In this country, we are not above — I hate to say condemnation — but we are not above reproach. The number one place for sexual abuse is the United States universities,” the former president said. Unlike the other keynote speakers, Carter moved past pure rhetoric to suggest a solution to the issue: The Title IX clause that allows federal funds to be withheld from universities if administrators fail to address sexual assault cases should be invoked to help address the problem.

Clinton, too, spoke on a controversial topic, using his keynote address to talk about the aftermath of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The court’s ruling allowed several states to change election laws without federal approval, and, as a result, many southern states passed laws requiring voters to show photo ID to cast a ballot. Clinton chided state governments for using the court’s ruling to restrict suffrage by passing such laws. “We all know what this is about.” Clinton said. “This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it. Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for?”

Considering Texas is one of the handful of states that require voters to present photo identification, Clinton’s words were bold. 

But not all the speakers at the summit used the bully pulpit to address sensitive issues with frankness and candour. Rather, both Bush and Obama stuck to speaking about past accomplishments and legislation, barely touching on the challenges that lie ahead. 

Bush talked mostly about education — an important topic, but one that constitutes much less of a hot button issue. He reminded Texans of the No Child Left Behind Act, a piece of legislation he announced in 2001 that increased reliance on standardized measurements for school accountability, especially regarding reading proficiency for younger children. Bush did do some justice to addressing inequality in public education, pointing out that “education in America is no longer legally separate, but it is still not effectively equal.” 

Obama, too, addressed disappointingly little of the modern issues concerning civil rights. Although perhaps the most anticipated speaker at the three-day summit, Obama did little to further any specific civil rights issues when he took the stage. Instead, in his characteristic manner, he spoke with eloquence, poise, and measured enthusiasm about things we already knew were true. The most we could take from Obama’s speech was his eloquent praise of LBJ, which, while meaningful, should not have been an end in itself. The lack of substance in Obama’s speech raises the question: Was the summit even productive beyond its celebratory flourishes?

Professor Edwin Dorn, a former Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, thinks the answer to that question lies in what happens next. He asks whether, in light of the summit, the University “will make a bigger investment in teaching and research about civil rights, immigration policy and voting rights … [because] right now, we are weak in all three areas. For example, only one UT faculty member is an expert on voting rights.”

Gregory Vincent, the vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, offered a slightly different view. He thought that listening to the “perspectives of national leaders in public policy, politics, business and activism yielded fruitful dialogues about social justice” and that the summit’s “real success was inspiring us to carry the conversation of civil rights forward and consider how those rights are being negotiated by different groups today.”

But while we should appreciate the more celebratory aspects of the summit, calling the conference a success does a disservice to the spirit of LBJ, a president who passed not one but many pieces of landmark civil rights legislation on voting rights, housing equality and Medicare, to name a few. But, instead of focusing on meaningful change, as Johnson’s landmark legislation did, this summit focused on rhetoric. When it comes to discussing civil rights, impassioned rhetoric can fall short; working to change the status quo is better. Change doesn’t come quickly, but there is certainly room for progress at UT. Even UT President William Powers Jr. admitted that UT has historically found itself on the “wrong side” of the civil rights argument. 

In the final speech of his presidency, Johnson told a roaring crowd, “we have proved that progress is possible.” Johnson earned the right to say those words, and, when we as a school, or even as a nation, can come to terms with the civil rights issues of our generation — the difficulty of immigration and nationalization, the prevalence of sexual assault and the lack of equal treatment in the LBGTQ community, to name just a few — only then can we see events such as the Civil Rights Summit as successful. While that’s a high standard with which to measure success, it only reflects the nature of the task ahead. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Read recaps of Wednesday's events by scrolling down here. Click here for the liveblog of Thursday's events, which include addresses by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

Updated (8:55 p.m.): For a full recap of Clinton's speech, click here.

Updated (7:22 p.m.): Former President Bill Clinton said voting in the U.S., because of voter ID laws and other restrictions, does not reflect the goals of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Here in Texas, the concealed carry permit counts, but there’s one photo ID that doesn't count,” Clinton said.  “One from a Texas institution of higher education.”

Clinton also said the economy is a factor in preventing the country from fulfilling the goals of the Civil Rights Act.

“It’s all the more difficult today because of the economic conditions in which we find ourselves,” Clinton said. “The statistics show economic growth, but almost all of it is going to the top 10 percent.”

Check back soon for a full recap of the event.

—Julia Brouillette

Updated (6:10 p.m.): During the Clinton administration, there were students on campus calling for greater recognition of LGBTQ and black students' rights. Read that story here.

Updated (5:50 p.m.): Planning a Civil Rights Summit watch party? Click here for a guide on how to do that.

UT Law School hosted a watch party for former President Jimmy Carter's speech Tuesday evening. Photo by Pu Ying Huang / Daily Texan Staff

Updated (4:50 p.m.): As several civil rights leaders spoke about their contributions to the movement, they recognized that the movement was guilty of certain prejudices as well.

Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, speaks at the "Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line" on Wednesday. Photo by Shelby Tauber / Daily Texan Staff

Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, said even within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which had more gender equality than other civil rights organizations, there were still tensions between men and women.

“There were enormous tensions over the role each would play,” Bond said. “Had it not been for women, there would not have been a movement.”

Read the full story here.

—Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (3:35 p.m.): The University Leadership Initiative held a rally in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on campus to show support for immigrants who have been deported.

Students involved in the rally held a number of signs, one of which said “we have a dream 2,” and chained themselves to the MLK statue, as representatives said the ideals of the Civil Rights Summit did not align with current U.S. policy towards undocumented immigrants.

Juan Belman, a second year engineering major who said his father is at risk of deportation, said that Austin needs to show support for families who have to deal with deportation.

“If we are a progressive community here in Austin, we need to show that,” Belmot said. “We need to show Texas how to move forward.”

— Adam Hamze

Updated (3:30 p.m.): For a full recap of "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream," click here.

Updated (3:02 p.m.): At a press conference at Fort Hood army base Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama spoke about the recent shooting that left four dead and more than a dozen injured, and called for increased support for Americans suffering from mental health issues.

"Part of what makes this so painful is we've been here before," Obama said. "We cannot ever eliminate every risk, but as a nation we can do more to counsel those with mental health issues, and to keep firearms out of the hands of those having such difficulties."

Obama also offered words of support for the soldiers' families.

"We hold each other up, we carry on, and with God's amazing grace we somehow bear the things unbearable," Obama said. "...This army and this nation stand with you for all these days to come."

— Julia Brouillette

Updated (2:50 p.m.): In their early 20’s, at the same age that many of today’s college students learn about the impact the two activists had, Bill Russell and Jim Brown were already utilizing their status as high profile athletes to strengthen the civil rights movement.

(From left): Former NFL running back Jim Brown, former NBA center and head coach Bill Russell and Harry Edwards, sociology professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley speak at the Sports: Leveling the Playing Field panel Wednesday. Photo by Shelby Tauber / Daily Texan Staff

At the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday, Russell, Brown and Harry Edwards, a former sociology professor at the University of California, noted that their opportunity to contribute to the civil rights movement at such a young age came as a result of their strong upbringing.

“[Many of the people] around me at a young age were impeccable at stressing the importance of education,” Brown said. “Because I was helped at a young age, I knew my life’s work would be to help others.”

Read the full story of the Sports: Leveling the Playing Field panel by clicking here.

— Stefan Scrafield

Updated (2:12 p.m.): According to Andrew Young, former congressman and former mayor of Atlanta, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Lyndon B. Johnson had a very amicable relationship, even as King and others pressured Johnson to introduce new civil rights legislation. Young spoke about the relationship between King and Johnson at "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream," the first summit panel on Wednesday.

“[Johnson originally] said, ‘I just don’t have the power,’” Young said. “I thought it was arrogant for him to say that… [but] we went to Selma on the second of January, and by the end of March the president had all the power he needed to get that civil rights act introduced.”

Andrew Young, former congressman and United Nations Ambassador, speaks at the "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream" panel at the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Lauren Ussery / Daily Texan Staff

Young said Johnson and King were both adept politicians and said he overheard phone calls between the two men which suggested they had a close relationship.

“I heard them on the phone talking like brothers, like pastor and member,” Young said.

According to historian Taylor Branch, there was some disagreement about what Johnson’s views about race were—whether he changed his views over time, or if he consistently supported the enfranchisement of African Americans.

“I think Johnson had an empathy his whole lifetime,” Branch said. “I think those were his sincere views, and my guess is that they were formed long before it was popular to believe they were there.” 

Check back soon for a full recap of the event.

— Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (12:32 p.m.): UT President William Powers Jr. said that although the University has made great strides in advancing civil rights, historically, UT has been on the “wrong side” of the argument.

UT President William Powers Jr. speaks about the University's role in civil rights, and how sometimes it has been on the wrong side of the argument. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

"The University of Texas has had a special role in the history of civil rights — first, of course, on the wrong side of those issues as a segregated school, and in Sweatt v. Painter on the wrong side of that case," Powers said in an address at the Civil Rights Summit Wednesday. 

To read more about Powers' remarks, click here.

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (12:03 p.m.): After students reported low attendance at several panels during the first day of the summit, event coordinators announced the creation of a stand-by line for admission to the remaining panels on Wednesday and Thursday. The line, which will begin on the east side of Sid Richardson Hall,  will be available to anyone with a UT identification card.

No stand-by lines have been announced for the remaining presidential addresses. To read more about yesterday's seating vacancies, click here

— Nicole Cobler

Updated (11:57 a.m.): The Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of historical archives, partnered with the National Archives and released various archives relating to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in light of the civil rights movement.

The “Historic Moments” exhibit features documents, images and videos of the development of the civil rights movement and the legislative process leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Google creates platforms and tools like this, such as the National Archives, to tell the story of diverse cultural heritage and share these archives worldwide,” Gerardo Interiano, public affairs manager for Google, said.

Gerardo Interiano, public affairs manager for Google, talks about the Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of historical archives. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

Google is a sponsor of the Civil Rights Summit and is hosting “G+ Hangouts” with various summit speakers. Today’s “hangout” will feature playwright Robert Schenkkan at 2 p.m. To watch the livestream of the hangout, click here. 

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (11:53 a.m.): UT Parking and Transportation Services announced additional road closures on the east side of campus during the ongoing Civil Rights Summit in an email sent to students on Wednesday morning.

Robert Dedman Drive between Dean Keeton and 23rd streets will be closed on Thursday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition, Trinity Street between Robert Dedman and 23rd streets will be closed sporadically between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. President Barack Obama’s keynote address to the summit is scheduled for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As a result of the closures, the PTS email said UT shuttles that regularly stop on 23rd Street will now do so on Winship Circle next to the Winship Drama Building.

Last week, PTS announced Clyde Littlefield Drive would be closed during the summit.

— Jacob Kerr

Updated (11:42 a.m.): According to psychology graduate student Christa Vassillieri, the Forty Acres Bus, which circles campus and has a stop across from the LBJ Library, has been more crowded since the Civil Rights Summit began Tuesday.

Vassillieri said she had forgotten the summit was happening, but did notice that the bus had more patrons than usual. Although Vassillieri said she heard promotions for the summit over the radio, she did not believe four presidents would have reason to speak in Austin.

“That’s what I thought I heard, but I was like, this can’t be,” Vassillieri said.

— Nicole Cobler

Updated (11:23 a.m.): Although former President Bill Clinton was originally supposed to tour the “Cornerstones of Civil Rights” exhibit at the LBJ Library before his address this evening, he will be arriving too late to take the tour as scheduled, according to Elizabeth Christian, president of the LBJ Foundation.

The exhibit, which opened  on April 1 and will remain open until April 30, features a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by former President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both signed by former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (10:40 a.m.): Ben Barnes, former Speaker of the Texas House and Lieutenant Governor, said President Lyndon B. Johnson would be concerned about the rising influence of the Tea Party in Texas and the increasing divide between political parties nationally.

Ben Barnes, former Texas lieutenant governor and former chairman of the LBJ Foundation, speaks to media Wednesday. Barnes said he thinks President Johnson would be concerned by the polarization of the country's two major political parties. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

Barnes, a UT alumni, was the youngest Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives at 26, and served from 1965 to 1969, while Johnson was president. Following Barnes’ tenure as Speaker, he served as the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. In 1995, Barnes received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Texas Exes, the University’s alumni organization.

“As happy as President Johnson would be about what these four days are going to mean, he’d still be very concerned about the bigotry and the prejudice that are two of the important components going into the very divisive government we have today,” Barnes said.

Barnes said he was especially concerned by the state-wide prominence of the Tea Party.

“I read a column by a Washington writer last week where he said Texas is in a situation where the Tea Party is going to be stronger in Texas than in any other state, as far as state elected officials — I’m not proud of that,” Barnes said. “I’m not proud of where they want to take Texas and I think it’s a very, very grave time in our state and I think President Johnson would share that disdain.”

According to Barnes, Johnson — who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law and increased the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War — will be remembered for his impact on the functions of today’s government.

“As time goes by and there’s more public forums like this and people really understand Johnson and what he accomplished, people are going to remember Lyndon Johnson for what his domestic policy was,” Barnes said. “He really passed the legislation that is the framework and foundation of our government today — you can’t erase that.”

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (7:45 a.m.): While all available tickets were distributed for the first day of the summit, attendees reported a lower turnout. Check out this story by Madlin Mekelburg to read more about it.

Updated (7:26 a.m.): The timing of the summit is meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July of that year. This video by Dan Resler explains the history of the landmark legislation.

Updated (7:00 a.m.): The first day of the Civil Rights Summit featured a conversation with former President Jimmy Carter, who said civil rights as they relate to racial minorities and women still need to be addressed, ranging from modern-day slavery to sexual abuse at college campuses in the U.S. 

Tuesday's panels also included:

1) A discussion about whether gay marriage is a civil right featuring attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, who teamed up in 2010 to challenge Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment in California that banned same-sex marriages. 

2) San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour talked about immigration laws and border security.

3) Musicians Mavis Staples and Graham Nash performed Tuesday night and spoke about their experiences and what influences their music.

Other highlights from the day can be found on our Civil Rights Summit, Day 1 Liveblog.

Civil Rights Summit

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks with Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library, on the first day of the Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday evening.

Former President Jimmy Carter said there are still racial and women’s rights issues the United States still needs to address in a conversation at the Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday.

In the conversation, hosted by LBJ Library director Mark Updegrove, Carter said in his work with the Carter Center—an organization Carter founded with his wife in 1982 to advance human rights—he has seen extraordinary prejudice against women and girls, including female genital mutilation, female infanticide and sexual slavery.

“Slavery, at this moment, is greater than it ever was in the 19th century,” Carter said. “I don’t want to shock people too much, but it’s the worst human rights violation on earth.”

According to Carter, sexual abuse is a major problem not only in the countries around the world, but also in universities in the U.S.

“In this country, we are not above—I hate to say condemnation—but we are not above reproach,” Carter said. “The number one place for sexual abuse is the United States universities.”

Carter said sexual abuse on college campuses is underreported because university faculty and administrators avoid legal action, worrying that reporting rape will tarnish the university’s reputation.

Carter also said he thinks the fact that Title IX allows federal funds to be withheld from universities if the college administrators fail to properly address sexual assault cases will help solve the problem.

In a blog post containing an excerpt from his recent book "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power," Carter presented his concerns about the role of religious and cultural interpretation on hindering gender equality with The Elders, an organization established by Nelson Mandela which aims to establish international peace and human rights. Carter, a leader in the organization, helped create a coalition in 2011 called Girls Not Brides with the goal of ending child marriage.

“You’ll note that some of this work was quite child marriage-focused,” Elliott Fox, The Elders media officer, said.

Fox said Girls Not Brides consists of more than 300 civil society groups from 50 countries. Although the coalition is now an independent organization, Fox said The Elders now focus on equality for girls and women more broadly.

During the conversation, Carter also said segregation still exists in the U.S., especially in public schools in the Deep South.

“We still have a gross disparity between black and white people on employment [and] the quality of public education,” Carter said. “A lot of so-called segregation academies were founded so white people could send their kids to a very segregated school.”

Although Carter was able to appoint several women to lifetime judicial appointments and African Americans to statewide boards, he was not able to advance gender and racial equality as much as he wanted to, according to government professor Bruce Buchanan.

“It was in the direction as he saw it, but not as much as he had hoped,” Buchanan said.

Carter said he does not think the government should deny benefits to those in same-sex marriages, but he said he thinks individual churches should be able to retain their autonomy of religious belief.

“I don’t believe there’s a difference between people because of their sexual orientation,” Carter said. “My own belief is that civil services should be approved all over the country.”

The event concluded the first day of events at the summit. Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are also scheduled to speak during the three-day summit.

Additionial reporting by Leila Ruiz

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Click here for full coverage of the second day of the Civil Rights Summit.

Updated: (8:26 p.m.) For the full story on former President Jimmy Carter's conversation with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove at the Civil Rights Summit, click here.

Updated: (7:47 p.m.) Former President Jimmy Carter said there are still racial and women’s rights issues the United States needs to address in a conversation at the Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday.

According to Carter, sexual abuse is major problem not only in the countries around the world that he and the Carter Center work with, but also in universities in the U.S.

“In this country, we are not above—I hate to say condemnation—but we are not hove reproach,” Carter said. “The number one place for sexual abuse is the United States universities.”

Carter also said segregation still exists, especially in public schools in the Deep South.

“We still have gross disparity between black and white people on employment [and] the quality of public education,” Carter said. “A lot of so-called segregation academies were founded so white people could send their kids to a very segregated school.”

—Alyssa Mahoney

Updated: (5:12 p.m.) Mavis Staples and Graham Nash spoke about how their involvement in the civil rights movement affected their songwriting and careers in music at the third panel of the Civil Rights Summit, “Music and Social Consciousness.”

Staples, a rhythm and blues and gospel artist from soul group The Staples Singers, attributes her lifetime as a gospel singer to meeting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. early in her career.

“I think that if he can preach it, we can sing it,” Staples said.

Updated: (4:02 p.m.) For the full story on the second panel of the Civil Rights Summit, "Pathway to the American Dream: Immigration Policy in the 21st Century," click here.

Updated: (3:05 p.m.) San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour discussed immigrations issues, including the lack of a solid definition of “border security,” as well as students overstaying their visas, during the second panel of the Civil Rights Summit, “Pathway to the American Dream: Immigration Policy in the 21st Century.”

Castro said the U.S. has not “even defined what border security would be.”

Barbour said people who overstay their visas could make up a significant portion of the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“People who come on a legal visa and don’t go when they’re supposed to… could be four or five million of the 11 million,” Barbour said. 

— Amanda Voeller

Updated: (2:46 p.m.) Though attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson once argued against each other in front of the Supreme Court, they said they are of one mind about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. To read a full recap of "Gay Marriage: A Civil Right?" click here.​

(From left) John Avalon, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, attorney David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, attorney and former U.S. Solicitor General, speak at the "Gay Marriage: A Civil Right?" panel Tuesday at the LBJ Auditorium. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff.

Updated: (1:54 p.m.) The Gay Liberation Front, UT's first gay student activist group, was founded in 1970. Read Eleanor Dearman's story here to find out more about gay students' experiences at UT in the 70's and today. 

Updated: (12:47 p.m.) Although Robert Schenkkan’s family had a longtime relationship with the Johnson family even before Lyndon B. Johnson became president, Schenkkan is perhaps best known for his play “All the Way,” which examines the first months of Lyndon B Johnson’s Presidency and the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

According to Schenkkan, Johnson’s was a Shakespearean figure that was rarely captured in his public image as president.

“He was not just physically big but large in his appetites, his ambitions, his flaws, his faults [and] virtues,” Schenkkan said. “[When] people talk about Lyndon Johnson, it’s always in this combination of the most generous man I ever met, the most savage man I ever met.”

Schenkkan said he thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the state of civil rights today offer many comparisons.

“I think it’s a great time right now, I think in particular, to be reexamining these issues because [of] the widely-held frustration of both sides of the aisle about the gridlock in Congress and seeming inability to accomplish even the most trivial of matters,” Schenkkan said.

— Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (10:26 a.m.): Bob Hutchings, LBJ School of Public Affairs dean, said the LBJ School of Public Affairs will open a center in Washington, D.C. for graduate students who want to spend more time in the capitol.

Hutchings said the LBJ School Washington Center will have an office, permanent staff and classroom space. According to Hutchings, the center will begin enrolling students next year. Although the location has not yet been determined, Hutchings said he hopes it will be located centrally in downtown Washington, D.C. near UT’s Archer Center.

“This is the probably best thing we can do as a public policy school to honor the legacy of President Johnson, namely to empower the next generation, the next get-it-done generation,” Hutchings said at the Civil Rights Summit.

According to LBJ Foundation president Elizabeth Christian, Hutchings' statement is the first public announcement of the LBJ School’s plans to create a Washington, D.C. center.

Hutchings said a major priority of the LBJ School is to continue the legacy of Johnson, which he said he thinks will be aided by establishing the center in Washington, D.C.

“Too few are going into public service,” Hutchings said. “If you don’t like what you see in Washington, get in the arena and change it.”

— Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (9:40 a.m.): The first panel of the summit is titled, "Gay Marriage: A Civil Right?" The panel will be moderated by John Avlon, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and will feature attorneys David Boies and Theodore B. Olson who teamed up in 2010 to challenge Proposition 8 in California, a constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in the state. The two prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 when the court ruled upheld the district court's decision that deemed Proposition 8 unconstitutional. 

— Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (9:30 a.m.): Here's a quick, 40-second primer on what the Civil Rights Summit will be about.

— Bryce Seifert

(From left) Maureen Clark, global chair for Against Cruel Trafficking, Reva Davis, Black Student Alliance president, and Heriberto Perez, historian for the University Leadership Initiative all feel the Civil Rights Summit provides an opportunity to talk about rights as they relate to a wide range of groups.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

As the University prepares for the Civil Rights Summit, a number of student organizations agree that civil rights — including issues of immigration, LGBTQ rights, human trafficking and equality for African-American students — are still a topic for discussion today.

Heriberto Perez, historian for the University Leadership Initiative and radio-television-film and computer science senior, said he hopes students will consider immigration issues after the three-day-long event, in which Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will reflect on the history of civil rights since the Civil Rights Act passed 50 years ago and discuss what can be done to improve the rights of Americans today.

In November, the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas attempted to host a controversial mock immigration “sting” on campus called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.” The group was going to offer students $25 gift cards if they were able to catch individuals wearing “illegal immigrant” labels on their clothing, but the event was canceled because of the backlash it received.

Perez said he was impressed by the number of students who stepped up to denounce the game but felt that more needed to be done nationwide.

“I’m really hoping that more students realize that, even though we are having the Civil Rights Summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that there are still civil rights violations occurring every day,” Perez said.

According to an investigation by The New York Times published Sunday, since Obama took office, two-thirds of the two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions or had no criminal record at all. Perez said this number was alarming to him and needed to be discussed at the summit.

“President Obama is giving a speech on Thursday, but it’s pretty pointless if he is talking about civil rights but not doing anything about it,” Perez said. “President Obama’s administration deported so many people, and that, to me, is violating their civil rights.”

Marisa Kent, co-director of the Queer Students Alliance and marketing junior, said she was happy with Obama’s support for gay marriage and believes the summit will educate students about gay rights.

“I think we’re at a pivotal moment for the future of the queer movement right now, with a lot of the legislation that has been passed and having the backing of the president,” Kent said.

Kent said the event was a good step forward for students on campus.

“I think that it will open students’ eyes to what’s going on around campus,” Kent said. “It’s also one of those things giving college students access to hear and understand why this is important.”

In December 2013, Obama issued a press release shining the spotlight on human trafficking and promised to crack down on traffickers. Obama also proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Maureen Clark, global chair for Against Cruel Trafficking and government junior, said she saw the fight against human trafficking among Obama, Clinton and Carter and hopes these issues of civil rights will be addressed at the Summit.

“I think, unfortunately, they will be relevant for a very long time, and it’s only when we say they’re not relevant anymore that it gives people room to act in a way that’s not appropriate,” Clark said. “I think we need to keep pushing. The fight is never over.”

Among other student organizations pushing for continuous discussions of civil rights is the Black Student Alliance.

Reva Davis, Black Student Alliance president and African and African diaspora studies senior, said the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act brings the chance to address the racial tensions she has noticed on campus.

In the fall, there were 2,337 black students enrolled at UT out of a total of 52,059 students — or about 4.5 percent — according to the Office of Information Management and Analysis.

“The retention of black students has been somewhat mediocre,” Davis said. “However, the University has promised to uphold its standard of diversity and ensuring its students have the opportunity to learn in a diverse atmosphere.”  

Longhorn Network plans to telecast every event of the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit live this week except former President Jimmy Carter’s speech because of a prior programming commitment.

Carter is scheduled to speak with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove at the summit on Tuesday from 6-7:30 p.m., but the Longhorn Network will air Texas’ home baseball game against the Rice Owls, scheduled to start at 7 p.m., live instead.

Stacie McCollum, Longhorn Network programming and acquisition director, said the baseball game is a live programming commitment in place for months that could not be moved.

“The schedule for the Civil Rights Summit was set so we worked with [the LBJ Library] to the best that we could,” McCollum said. “The Civil Rights Summit was already scheduled based on Carter’s commitment. That was the day that worked for him. So it wasn’t a matter of picking and choosing who aired and who didn’t air live.”

Members of Carter’s staff could not be reached for comment. Texas baseball head coach Augie Garrido also declined to comment.

Kristy Ozmun, Longhorn Network local media contact, said the channel will air the Carter speech on tape delay.

“Carter is still going to air,” Ozmun said. “It’s just going to air later that evening so it won’t be live but it’ll air as soon as possible and re-air leading into Wednesday’s coverage of the Civil Rights Summit. There will be 14 hours of live programming that will air on Longhorn Network for the summit.”

McCollum said the network has aired academic programming since it launched in 2011 and has a franchise on the network called “LBJ Presents,” chronicling events put on by the LBJ Library. She said the network is in contact with the library weekly to discuss programming opportunities and the summit is an extension of that partnership.

“They recognize the commitment — the 14 hours of live programming, almost 16 total hours — but I would say they are equally pleased with our partnership and our commitment as we are with working with them,” McCollum said.

The LBJ Library, in collaboration with Google and Longhorn Network, will live stream each of the Civil Rights Summit programs on the summit’s website. Anne Wheeler, LBJ Library spokeswoman, said Carter’s speech can be seen live on the live stream. 

“The Longhorn Network is actually providing live video of president Carter’s program to television networks covering the summit and the live stream in real time,” Wheeler said. “His program is only tape delayed for Longhorn Network subscribers. We don’t have any concerns about that at all.”

According to the LBJ Library, the summit will comprise of afternoon panel discussions and evening keynote addresses — from President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Carter — reflecting on the civil rights legislation and examining current issues of civil rights.

“This is by far our biggest academic initiative to date and we see this as a great opportunity to be a part of something that is historic and newsworthy,” McCollum said. “So we are very pleased to partner with LBJ in such a big way.”

Editor’s Note: In the run-up to next week’s Civil Rights Summit, we hit the West Mall on Thursday to ask students for their thoughts about the ticket distribution system as well as the significance of the event. Below are some of their responses.


Aubrey Folck, speech language pathology sophomore

DT: Are you going to the Civil Rights Summit next week? 

AF: I didn’t know about that. 

DT: Well, there are going to be four former presidents speaking on campus — Clinton, Bush, Obama and Carter. Do you have any thoughts on it?

AF: I think that that is a pretty rare opportunity.


Katie Russell, radio-television-film junior

DT: Do you know about the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

KR: I’ve heard about it a little bit, yes. 

DT: Did you try and get tickets?

KR: I did. Obviously, I mean Obama is going to be here — Jimmy Carter, Clinton, a lot of great people. I did. But I don’t think I got them. 

DT: How do you feel that there will be four presidents here? What does that mean for our University?

KR: I don’t know. I think it’s really awesome, and it just shows how big UT is and our connections. I think something that’s really great about our school is that we have so many deep alumni connections — and the ability to have these resources that other smaller schools can’t afford this or maybe can’t host this. I think this is a lot about just UT and how established we are as a school. I don’t know. It’s really exciting to me. I’ll maybe come and try to stand and maybe get a glimpse. 


Natalie Escarano, English and speech language pathology senior

DT: Do you know about the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

NE: Yes.

DT: Did you try and get tickets?

NE: I did not.

DT: Why?

NE: Yeah, I didn’t really know the process, and by the time I heard about it, it was too late already. 

DT: What do you think it means for our campus that we will have four presidents speaking at this summit?

NE: The apocalypse is coming. [Laughs] Sorry, I honestly have no clue. I think it’s great that it’s at our campus. I don’t really have any thoughts on it. It’s just going to happen. 


Ally Finken, human development and family sciences sophomore

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit? 

AF: I did. 

DT: Did you get tickets?

AF: No.

DT: Okay, how do you feel about the whole process? Do you think it was fair? Do you wish you had gotten tickets?

AF: I think it was pretty fair. I mean, I think it was pretty fair. If you wanted to do it you had to apply, and you had to rank them. Of course, I am sure everyone put the Obama one as No. 1. I mean, the only way it could have been unfair is if you wanted to go to one of the lesser ones, and people who did get it didn’t even want to go. 


James Grandberry, journalism junior

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

JG: No, but a lot of my friends did. 

DT: Do you have any thoughts about that process? Do you think it was fair? Should it have been easier to get into it?

JG: I think it might be just based on our initiatives. I think some people might have signed up earlier and got it. I think it was like a lottery. You can say it was unfair, but it seems pretty fair since it was a lottery. 


Tayma Rehn, English junior

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit? 

TR: I did. 

DT: Did you get tickets?

TR: No. I was mad. I was so mad. 

DT: Can you just tell us about the process? Why it makes you mad?

TR: Well, it made me mad because where else are you going to see Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama all in the same place? And I don’t know. I’ve seen speeches of them before, so I thought it would be really cool to see them in person. So I signed up for this newsletter, and you were supposed to get this email and click this link, and I clicked the link like three minutes after the email was sent out, and it was like, “tickets are gone.” And I was not happy. I had been counting down for a week. 

DT: What do you think they could have done differently to make the process better [and] fairer for students?

TR: I mean for students, I had to find out about it because I work over at LBJ, so that’s how I found out about it. But they should have probably sent out an email to everybody, so they could have let us know about the opportunity ahead of time. Because then we could have signed up earlier, and then maybe more people could have gotten tickets. Because I know that only a select few students got an email about it from the dean I think, if they were preapproved, which I don’t understand. 


Lauren Eller, communication studies and human relations junior

DT: Did you try to get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit?

LE: No.

DT: Did you know about the process?

LE: No.

DT: Do you know about the summit?

LE: No. I heard about it briefly, but I didn’t get it in time. 

DT: What does this summit mean for our campus? What does it mean that we’re having four presidents here?

LE: Well, it’s good publicity I guess, but I don’t know. I don’t even know why they’re here or what they’re doing here. I would love to hear them talk, but I am honestly clueless about the whole thing. 

DT: Could the University have done a better job in getting the word out to students?

LE: Yeah, absolutely. I actually asked someone to email me the email because I didn’t see it.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton will be among those on campus for a Civil Rights Summit in April to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the LBJ Library and Presidential Museum announced Monday.

The Summit, scheduled for April 8-10, is one of many celebrations of the civil rights movement the University, LBJ Library, LBJ School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Foundation will be hosting in the next several years.

The Summit will also feature presentations from a diversity of individuals ranging from athletes including former NBA center Bill Russell and former NFL running back Jim Brown to former first daugthers including Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb.

“Fifty years ago, President Johnson’s vision for a more just and honorable America contributed to the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the most transformational civil rights legislation since Reconstruction and a crucial step in the realization of America’s promise,” said Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library, in the release.

Former President Jimmy Carter addressed more than 200 students and community members at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium on Tuesday night about the situation in the Middle East, his own and other presidencies and his hopes for the country’s future.

“I would like for the young people of the coming generation to strive for transcendence in political affairs, for superb accomplishments not just in your own profession, but in America,” Carter said.

The Harry Middleton Lectureship, a program sponsored by the LBJ Foundation, hosted “A Conversation with Former President Jimmy Carter.” Middleton directed the LBJ Library and Museum for 30 years and served as a staff assistant to President Johnson in the White House.

Middleton, who attended the event, said he believed Lady Bird Johnson would have been proud.

“Carter brings a vantage point that not very many people have,” Middleton said. “He occupied the most important position in the world for four years.”

Mark Updegrove, presidential historian and director of the LBJ Library, asked the former president his opinion of current events in the Middle East, an area Updegrove said no other president was associated with more than Carter. Carter negotiated the Camp David Accords, a 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Carter said the current efforts between the United States to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors are at a stalemate. He added that Obama did quite well in handling the Egyptian situation.

“About the same way I would have handled it if I had been in office,” Carter said. “I would probably have been loyal to Mubarak in the beginning.”

He said the Carter Center, his humanitarian organization, planned to send a delegation to Egypt within a week to help organize a constitution and set up the democratic elections in September.

In his lecture, Carter also discussed his years in the White House and joked about his life as a peanut farmer, his unexpected presidential victory and his $1 million personal debt when he left office.

“My proudest accomplishment was that I never dropped a bomb, fired a bullet or shot a missile while I was president,” Carter said.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said Carter’s visit has been in the works for more than a year. He added that endowments left by Lady Bird Johnson and the LBJ Foundation would allow the series to always run free of charge.

“It’s really important to have people of his magnitude come to Austin on campus and be available for this kind of intimate conversation,” Hutchings said. “It made me feel he was sitting in my living room.”

Julia Burch, a public affairs graduate student, said she thought Carter’s work after his presidency has kept him on the forefront and kept him in a leadership role most presidents do not undertake once they retire.

“I hope future presidents have the energy to follow President Carter’s lead,” Burch said. “I’m here today to learn from his wisdom and hear what he has to say and hope to apply a little bit of that in my own life.”

Carter ended his lecture encouraging young people to strive for excellence and said he hoped that America would become a “real superpower” — a nation that would emulate the highest ability of a human being.

More than 600 people showed up at BookPeople on Friday to see former President Jimmy Carter and get a signed copy of his new book, “White House Diary.”

In his book, Carter reveals his unedited diary entries during his one term in office from 1977 to 1981.

“When preparing this book, I decided not to revise the original transcript, despite the temptation to conceal my errors, misjudgments of people or lack of foresight,” Carter said.
“I haven’t changed the meaning of a single sentence.”

While Carter still holds the original 5,000-page diary, one copy has been sequestered in the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta. Next year, he plans to make the entire document available to scholars.

“I want people to know what it’s like within the White House as an incumbent president dealing with a plethora of problems and challenges and opportunities, and the personal effect on me and my family,” Carter said. “I also want people to know how I dealt with different kinds of people and different kinds of issues. It revealed quite often how I felt then, which may not be the way I feel now over 30 years later. Also, what people have forgotten [about the presidency].”

Carter said he sees much of his presidency in President Barack Obama’s, including some of the same foreign relations issues.

“We both had to deal with many of the same countries — Iran, Afghanistan, China — although through different circumstances,” he said.

BookPeople, an independently run bookstore, is well-known for its high-profile book signings and appearances, which have included politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Rick Perry. Friday’s event was the third visit Carter has made to the bookstore, said Paul Benson, the store’s floor manager.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity and a great pleasure to have someone from that political realm come to our bookstore to do a signing,” Benson said. “We were very honored. It took a lot of hard work from a lot of people.”

Round Rock resident Carolene English said she arrived at the bookstore at 6:30 a.m. — about three hours before it opened and about six hours before Carter starting signing books.
English said she saw the former president at his last BookPeople book signing.

“No other president has rivaled what he has done as far as charity and humanitarian work, especially his work with Habitat for Humanity,” English said. “I have a lot of admiration for him.”