for President Lyndon Baines Johnson
Last month I went to Texas to spend spring break with my grandchildren. We took a field trip to Dallas and visited the Perot Science Museum, the Fort Worth Zoo, and the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Most people my age remember clearly where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot. I was at George K Porter Junior High in Home Economics class when the announcement came over the intercom. For the next few days we were glued to the television coverage of the assignation, the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, his subsequent murder, and then JFK's funeral.
The 6th Floor Museum is in the former Texas School Book Depository. The museum chronicles the the assignation and legacy of President Kennedy. It was fascinating to me because I have such vivid memories of that time in history, but even my granddaughters, ages 6 and 8, were interested. We looked out the window from where Oswald made the fatal shots and I marveled that one insignificant man changed the course of history. We stood on "the grassy knoll" and everything seemed so much smaller than what was pictured in the news coverage in 1963.
|My daughter and grandchildren on the grassy knoll. Zapgruder was standing just to the right of my daughter when he filmed the assignation|
Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president following Kennedy's assignation. He is probably best remembered for his failure to end the war in Vietnam, but his greatest legacy may well be his legislative agenda. He committed to seeing that the Civil Rights Act proposed by his predecessor was passed. In an address to a joint session of congress in 1963 Johnson told the legislators,
"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."
Today President Obama spoke at the Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas at a summit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Obama credits the Civil Rights Act with "throwing open the doors of opportunity" for Americans who had previously been shut out. The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964, changed our nation. We've come a long way in fifty years, but there's still a little more work to be done.