04/10/2014 02:48 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2014

Obama: LBJ's Civil Rights Legacy Reflects 'What The Hell The Presidency Is For'

President Barack Obama honored the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act Thursday, praising former President Lyndon B. Johnson's work to fulfill the promise of American equality.

Speaking at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, Obama said he has "lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts" by serving as the country's first black president.

Obama added that even with the power of the presidency, Johnson's civil rights work showed he never forgot growing up in the face of poverty and racial hatred.

"He believed that their plight was his plight too, that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs, and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for," Obama said.

Obama also commended Johnson for his ability to push through legislation in Congress, even in the face of opposition from within the Democratic party.

"The story of America is a story of progress, however slow, however incomplete," Obama said.

Watch some of Obama's remarks above.