Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson, RIP

I've always had the greatest admiration for Lady Bird Johnson. Anyone who has read the Robert Caro biographies of her husband know that she met the many challenges of her private and public life with grace and dignity. One of her best moments came in 1964, when she campaigned for her husband in the South at a time when most white southerners were bitterly upset about the recently-passed Civil Rights Act. Undetered by hostile crowds and death threats, she demonstrated both charm and courage in a difficult time.

In Columbia, South Carolina, people booed and heckled Lady Bird during her speech so that she could not be heard. The state hosts were unable to quiet the hecklers, but with a raised, white-gloved hand and a firm voice, Lady Bird silenced the crowd.

"This is a country of many viewpoints," she told the Columbia crowd. "I respect your right to express your own. Now it is my turn to express mine. Thank you."

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