Trump’s Claim that He’s Done More for Black Americans than any President Since Lincoln (Fact Check)Historians in the News
tags: LBJ, African American history, Lincoln, presidential history, Donald Trump, fact check
Lincoln, of course, freed the slaves and pressed for passage of constitutional amendments to give them equal status under the law. It’s hard to top those achievements.
But the claim that Trump has exceeded every other president since Lincoln earned only derision from prominent historians. Instead, they said Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is clearly the president who had the most lasting impact on the lives of African Americans. These legislative victories were not easy, requiring Johnson to build coalitions with moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats to defeat the powerful segregationists in his own party who dominated the South.
Here’s a sampling of historians who point to Johnson:
Michael Beschloss, historian and author of nine books on the presidency: “I would absolutely say that LBJ would be number #2.”
David Garrow, Pulitzer-prize winning historian on the civil rights movement: “I believe no question that virtually all U.S. historians would rank LBJ #1 among presidents on ‘who’s done the most for the Black community'” since the start of the 20th century.
H.W. Brands, historian at the University of Texas at Austin: “President Trump has made many outlandish claims, and this is squarely in that category. LBJ’s Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act rank right next to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”
Max J. Skidmore, a University of Missouri historian who assessed the performance of every president in a 2004 book: “Presidents who have done the most for black civil rights since Lincoln would include Ulysses S. Grant (securing creation of Department of Justice and empowering the attorney general to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan and racial violence, etc.), Harry Truman (de-segregating the military, using executive order to circumvent a Congress dominated by the south), LBJ (working for, and signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965. … Additionally, it is little remembered, but when LBJ signed his landmark Medicare Act in 1965, he secured de-segregation of hospitals throughout the south, which had been universal, and anywhere else it existed. That was an enormous accomplishment. Barack Obama should be included for his success in passing the Affordable Care Act, which is one of the greatest anti-poverty measures that this country has ever enacted.”