Pictured above: President Johnson signs, as Martin Luther King Jr. watches him, the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Today is MLK Jr. Day, and as we all know, Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. This movement culminated in the passage of two of America’s most important pieces of legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Today’s also the day that Obama gave his second and final inaugural address. Most of those who watched the speech agree that it was one of, if not the most, progressive speech Obama ever gave. In it he espoused equality for pay among men and women, the freedom to marry whomever we love despite our lover’s gender, how voting should be the easiest thing to do in the world, and that we need – we absolutely must – tackle climate change. That’s not everything he mentioned, but what was clear in Obama’s speech was that an activist government is better than a government that doesn’t do anything. How government action doesn’t make us less free, it makes us more free, because the more risk we bear together and as a nation, the more risk we can take as individuals and succeed.
So let’s go back about fifty years, to a clear demonstration of the kind of activist and good government Obama was talking about, and realize how America is now better off.