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Fifty years ago, the winds of change accelerated after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. And visitors got to descend into Natural Bridge Caverns for the first time.
President Barack Obama and three former presidents headlined a host of speakers from the worlds of entertainment, sports, the media and, of course, civil rights who convened for the Civil Rights Summit in April at the LBJ Presidential Library on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The event was held in commemoration of the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964. Obama honored LBJ and the civil rights movement of the 1960s in his keynote address, saying, “We’ve got a debt to pay.” Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also spoke at the summit.
Todd S. Purdum noted in a story on Politico.com that LBJ’s last public appearance, in December 1972, was on the same stage where the summit was held and marked the opening of some of his White House files on civil rights. Purdum wrote:
“Whites stand on history’s mountain, and blacks stand in history’s hollow,” Johnson said then. The challenge, he concluded, was to “get down to the business of trying to stand black and white on level ground.”
See “We Live in a Different World,” this month’s Observations, in which Lewis Young, a director at Wood County Electric Cooperative, recounts how the Civil Rights Act changed his life in East Texas.
Fifty years ago, Natural Bridge Caverns opened to the public, giving visitors access to the largest known cavern system in Texas.
In 1960, four students from St. Mary’s University in nearby San Antonio obtained permission from the landowners to explore the area under a 60-foot limestone bridge. They eventually discovered and crawled their way through 2 miles of underground passages.
The owners of the property developed the site into a tourist attraction and opened for business on July 3, 1964, allowing visitors to go 180 feet underground and see ancient formations, including stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws.
Texas accounted for the most wind-generated electricity in the country in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Texas generated nearly 36 million megawatt-hours. No other state came close: Iowa was second, with more than 15 million MWh. To put that in perspective, the wind-generated electricity produced in Texas last year could power about 2.5 million homes in the state for a year.