Nicholas Katzenbach: Civil Rights Then and Now
Nicholas Katzenbach taught Law at Yale University and the Universityof Chicago, and served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrationsbefore becoming senior vice president and general counsel for IBM. He was witness and participant to some of the most challenging events inUnited States history, including the Freedom Riders, the desegregationof the Universities of Mississippi and Alabama, the fear of communistinfiltration during the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, theassassination of JFK, and the Vietnam War. His memoir is entitled"Some of it Was Fun: Working with RFK and LBJ."
Question: What was your relationship like with civil rights leaders?
Nicholas Katzenbach: We had, in a sense, a very good relationship with the civil rights leaders, but the civil rights leaders were always critical of what we were doing and always felt we weren’t doing enough. I think they were quite right in taking that view, but we couldn’t figure out how to do what it was that they wanted us to do or that that was in the interest of the country to do it. We did a great deal, but the answer had to be legislation. You had to have not the president, not the Attorney General involved in this, not even the Supreme Court with the Brown case and so forth. You really had to have the Congress and the people behind this. You weren’t going to get anywhere until that happened, and that was what we were trying to do, and thanks to Dr. King and the many people that worked with him in those peaceful demonstrations that he had, thanks to television for showing what the local sheriff’s offices and police officers were doing. Finally, people said this is wrong, and we were able to get that legislation, not by Democrats but by Democrats and Republicans working together.
Question: What was it like working with Dr. King?
Nicholas Katzenbach: Difficult at times. He was a great leader and deserves enormous credit for what he did. We wouldn’t be where we are today, we wouldn’t have succeeded in the ‘60s without the leadership of Martin Luther King. He was difficult only in the sense that her wanted you to do what he wanted you to do and you couldn’t always do it.
Question: Do Americans understand their own history?
Nicholas Katzenbach: I don't know what Americans’ understanding of the Civil Rights Movement is. If I had anything I wanted to correct, it would be this: the abuse of Blacks in this country started long before the Constitution, with slavery. We couldn’t resolve it in the Constitution. We couldn’t resolve it with the Civil War in 1860’s. It continued to be a blemish on this whole country. And what was important to get people to understand in the ‘60s, and it’s still important for people to understand today, that civil rights is not doing something for African-Americans. It’s doing something for all of us, because it is building a society that doesn’t have stupid prejudices, that can listen to other people, that can tolerate differences. That’s the country we have then, and that’s the country we should be.
Question: Where do you see civil rights today?
Nicholas Katzenbach: I think we have made an enormous amount of progress, but we’ve also driven, there’s a lot of bias that still exists, and there’s a lot of inequality that still exists. The black middle class has done very well, and so that you, you know, you see movie actors, you see judges, you see lawyers, you see business people, you even see some CEOs, and that’s all good, but you also see far too many African-Americans in jail, far too many African-Americans unemployed, and we have to do something, have to continue to do things that try to lift the bottom, to get it closer to the middle.
Recorded on: 10/22/2008
The man who worked with, among others, Dr. King, talks about his memories of the time and whether we are living "The Dream."
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
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