History has labeled Lyndon B. Johnson "Lincoln's successor." But how did a southern president representing a predominately conservative state, with connections to some of the nation's leading segregationists, come to play such an influential role in civil rights history? In Freedom's Pragmatist, Sylvia Ellis tracks Johnson's personal and political civil rights journey, from his childhood and early adulthood in Texas to his lengthy career in Congress and the Senate to his time as vice president and president.Once in the White House, and pressured constantly by grassroots civil rights protests, Johnson made a major contribution to the black freedom struggle through his effective use of executive power. He provided much-needed moral leadership on racial equality; secured the passage of landmark civil rights acts that ended legal segregation and ensured voting rights for blacks; pushed for affirmative action; introduced antipoverty, education, and health programs that benefited all; and made important and symbolic appointments of African Americans to key political positions.Freedom's Pragmatist argues that place, historical context, and personal ambition are the keys to understanding Johnson on civil rights. And Johnson is key to understanding the history of civil rights in the United States. Ellis emphasizes Johnson's complex love-hate relationship with the South, his innate compassion for the disadvantaged and dispossessed, and his political instincts and skills that allowed him to know when and how to implement racial change in a divided nation.
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