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Commentary: LBJ, King opened door for Obama's election

  • Story Highlights
  • Luci Baines Johnson: I was too young to vote for my father as president
  • She says when she voted for Obama, she was voting for her father's dream
  • Obama's election was culmination of work by LBJ, Martin Luther King Jr., she says
  • Johnson: I pray Americans will support Obama's work to solve our problems
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By Luci Baines Johnson
Special to CNN
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Editor's Note: Luci Baines Johnson is the younger daughter of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. She is chairman of LBJ Asset Management Partners, Inc. and vice president of BusinessSuites, a nationwide office business service center. She also serves as a trustee of Boston University. She has four grown children, Lyndon, Nicole, Rebekah and Claudia, one stepson, Stuart, and eleven grandchildren.

Luci Baines Johnson says her father's dream was to give everyone the opportunity to achieve.

(CNN) -- Forty-four years ago on November 2, 1964, I returned to Austin, Texas, with my parents and gave my last campaign speech at a rally in front of the Texas Capitol.

After campaigning in 26 states for five months I never got to vote for Daddy on November 3 -- I was just 16 and too young to vote.

My father's dream was to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans regardless of the color of their skin or the quantity of their pocketbook.

On November 4, Barack Obama made good on those dreams. He walked through the doors of opportunity -- flung open by Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of men and women who supported the Great Society -- and succeeded because of the "content of his character, not the color of his skin."

When Daddy signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he said he feared he was handing his beloved South over to the Republican Party for a generation, but if that was the price he had to pay for social justice he gladly did it. Sadly it's been more than a generation since he said those prophetic words.

I never got the chance to vote for my father. But when I cast my vote for Barack Obama, I was casting a vote to support the same causes of social justice and equal opportunity to quality education, decent health care and a clean environment for all Americans that Daddy and the supporters of the "Great Society" worked so hard on and achieved so much for.

As I cast my vote, I could hear Daddy's words to the Congress about the Voting Rights Act, recalled in his memoir "The Vantage Point," ringing in my ear.

"Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but it is really all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice, and we shall overcome."

On November 5, I stood in my office with one Jew, one naturalized American, one Catholic, four Protestant women, two white and two black. Among them was a McCain supporter. We joined arms and sang:

"We shall stand together

We shall stand together

We shall stand together now

Deep in my heart I do believe

We shall overcome someday"

Election Night 2008 we overcame.

I am so grateful to have lived to see that night. I just wish Mamma and Daddy and the President-elect's parents and grandparents had that opportunity -- though, their heavenly "Vantage Point" must have given them the best view of all.

I thank God for all who helped Daddy's dreams for social justice become law. I thank the millions of Americans who helped President-elect Obama make those dreams come true.

And I pray that Americans will continue to stand together with our new president as he wrestles with the greatest problems of our time so he can make the dreams of a new generation come true too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Luci Baines Johnson

All About Barack ObamaLyndon JohnsonMartin Luther King Jr.

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