On the 25th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, President George H.W Bush refuses to endorse federal legislation to strengthen minority rights as requested by civil rights activists.
President George H.W. Bush Marks 25th Anniversary of Civil Rights Laws, but Some Activists Wish He Delivered More
TOM BROKAW, anchor:
Later the President appeared before civil rights activists in the White House to mark 25 years of civil rights laws, and several in his audience were looking for more than he delivered, NBC’s John Cochran now.
JOHN COCHRAN, reporting:
On the silver anniversary of the Civil Rights act President Bush promised to fight discrimination.
President BUSH: That means vigilante that aggressive enforcement of all civil rights laws.
COCHRAN: But some civil rights leaders complain that Bush has concentrated too much on his flag burning decision while ignoring court reversals of long standing civil rights gains.
JACKSON: While we honored and revered the flag and we ought to, it is a symbol of our national glory; it should not be worn over people’s eyes that blind us from America’s promise.
COCHRAN: Jackson wants the court to act on recent court decisions making it harder for minorities and women to gain jobs through affirmative action plans or discrimination lawsuits. But Bush opposes new laws to offset the Court’s decisions, and warned today that civil rights are not always black and white, there are grey areas too.
BUSH: It means the sensitive application of those laws when competing rights of innocent persons are at stake.
COCHRAN: Unlike Bush, House Speaker Tom Foley thinks laws are needed to restore minority gains abolished by the court.
TOM FOLEY, House Speaker: I think Congress will address the issue, that’s right.
COCHRAN: Bush said the Civil Rights revolution may have been started by a woman who is present today.
BUSH: Perhaps it began on December 1st 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her rightful place on a Birmingham Bus.
ROSA PARKS, activist: Well I remember that it was Montgomery instead of Birmingham Alabama...
COCHRAN: But what bothered Rosa Parks and other activists was not Bush’s mistake in history, but his failure to repeat history. To work closely with them as Lyndon Johnson did in drawling up the 1964 Civil Rights bill. One of LBJ’s civil right’s advisor says that Bush talks a good line but that’s about all.
WILLIAM TAYOR, civil rights advisor: It is troubling that the Bush administration so far has not acted on the positive rhetoric and seems in many ways to be continuing the policies of the Reagan administration.
COCHRAN: Bush has always thought that Republicans have taken a bum rap from civil rights activists. Bum or not, the rap continues, but the civil rights lobby does consider him an improvement over the man he succeeded. John Cochran, NBC News, the White House.
George H.W. Bush brought to the White House a wish to make the United States “a kinder and gentler nation.” Coming from a family with a tradition of public service, George Herbert Walker Bush felt the responsibility to make his contribution both in time of war and in peace.
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