Nov 20 2014
The following post was written by David Domke, professor and chair for the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Domke studies political leadership, news coverage, and social change, with particular interest in the dynamics of post-9/11 America.
Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. are intertwined in American history. We can’t understand the impact of one of them on US politics and society without recognizing the contribution of the other.
That’s why they are the focal points of All the Way and The Great Society, showing at the Rep through early January. And that’s why they are the centerpieces of a lecture series I am doing in January and February, titled Marching to Selma: How MLK, LBJ, and the Civil Rights Movement Changed the World. The plays and lectures will lead us to the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches.
On the one hand LBJ and MLK were contrasts. LBJ was born dirt poor in the hill country of Texas, west of Austin, as the son of a politician and went to college at Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College. MLK was born into relative comfort in Atlanta, the son of a revered minister, and went to prestigious Morehouse College and eventually earned his PhD at Boston University. LBJ sought power and upon achieving it gained a platform to help disenfranchised people; MLK sought to elevate the disenfranchised and as a result gained a platform of great power and influence. Most importantly for their era, one was white and one was black.