AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — The White House says President Barack Obama will speak at an April event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
The April 8-10 event is being sponsored by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.
Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law at the White House during a televised ceremony on July 2, 1964. The landmark legislation promoted equality for all Americans.
The White House says the president and first lady Michelle Obama will address the gathering on April 10, the final day of the commemoration.
Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will also speak at the event.
“I’m not aware of any time in our history that four presidents had speaking roles in the same event like this, so I believe it is unprecedented,” said George Hutchings, Dean of The LBJ School of Public Affairs.
A spokesperson for the LBJ Library said tickets for the event ran out within 19 minutes after they were made available. The tickets reserved for UT students were handled by the university and handed out in a lottery style. Each session over the three days was ticketed separately and more than 20,000 people requested tickets.
There will be no stand-by lines on the day of the event. The auditorium holds about 1,000 people.
After the speeches, attendees will be able to take part in a town hall meeting where no subject is off limits.
“Everything from gay rights, to healthcare reform, to immigration reform, and whatever else is on people’s mind,” said Hutchings.
The Lady Bird Auditorium, where this event will be held, seats about 1,000 people and guests must apply for a free ticket on the event’s website. The university will choose the event attendees.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Hutchings. “We here at the LBJ Library are already being flooded with requests. People realize this is something they’ll never see again.”
The Civil Rights Summit will feature also other events throughout the year to commemorate different laws put into place by President Johnson.
President Obama makes another trip to Austin
President Obama is no stranger to Austin. Back in 2010, he spoke on the UT campus about making college affordable, saying a strong economy is dependent on raising the nation’s education standards.
The president returned less than a year later in May 2011. He spoke about the importance of renewable energy and about overturning “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He also thanked members of the military as his trip was one week after Osama bin Laden was killed.
And just months before the 2012 election, President Obama campaigned in Austin, talking about job growth and healthcare reform.
Last May, the president again talked jobs in Austin. Speaking to a group of students, the president said science and math are more important than ever as the number of tech jobs expands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.