New details emerge about presidents' visit to Austin


by KRIS BETTS and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

KVUE News Austin

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 5:54 PM

AUSTIN -- It’s a historic announcement for Austin celebrating a historic milestone, and now more details are emerging about the LBJ Civil Rights Summit in April that will feature speeches by four U.S. presidents.

“It’s really a wonderful thing for the city, the university and the LBJ School,” said Robert Hutchings, dean of the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama will visit Austin to reflect on the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s Civil Rights Act.

“I hope President Obama will reflect on the fact that he wouldn’t be where he is now without President Lyndon Johnson, without the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act legislations,” said Hutchings.

The dean said he expects the presidents to speak about current issues concerning civil rights.

“Gay rights is certainly a major issue in this state as in others, health care legislation. It was President Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid that launched this," Hutchings said.

The presidents stood together for the George W. Bush Library dedication in Dallas in 2013, but Hutchings says they will most likely arrive separately when they visit Austin.

“Each president will come in and do his own event, and then leave," Hutchings said.

The summit will take place inside the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium. The auditorium seats 967 people.

The LBJ Library confirms Carter and Clinton will speak in the auditorium, and they are still working to confirm where Obama and Bush will be speaking.

They also hope to reserve a portion of seats for students.

“They [presidents] don’t want to come to a college campus and not see students around,” said Hutchings.

The university will stream the Civil Rights Summit live online.

It will be free and open to the public. The LBJ Library is still deciding how to distribute tickets.