2016 SCoR Seminar at SSCA, Austin, TX

LBJ’s Voting Rights Act Speech ("The American Promise") at 50

2015 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson gave to a joint session of Congress what the curators at the LBJ Library have called “perhaps his most important and meaningful speech,” in which Johnson pressed for passage of the act. Half a century later, renewed contests over voting rights have put the issues back in the political forefront.

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The 2016 seminar of the Southern Colloquium on Rhetoric at SSCA seminar took our meeting in Austin, TX, the site of the LBJ presidential library, so near the anniversary of this important speech as an opportunity to revisit what has come to be known as "the Voting Rights Act speech."

We had a double panel at the conference, sponsored by the Rhetoric and Public Address Division. Attendance was good, and the discussion was lively across both sessions. A group of distinguished panelists was quite successful at providing very brief position statements as a spur to conversation, and panelists from a Friday session on LBJ who were in attendance also contributed greatly to the conversation.

Click here for the text and video of Johnson's speech.

Chair: James Darsey, Georgia State University

Panelists:
Wendy Atkins-Sayre, University of Southern Mississippi
Carole Blair, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Ann Burnette, University of Texas, San Marcos
Leroy Dorsey, Texas A&M University
Dan Grano, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Michael Osborn, University of Memphis