Friday, April 11, 2014

J is For Lyndon Johnson

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...  

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.


  1. What an interesting trip to be able to take with your granddaughters.
    Yes, it is pretty amazing that it took 50 years after the passage of that bill for the US to have an African American president. But as you said there is more work to be done.
    Brian Cranston is starring in the Broadway play “All the Way”. He is playing LBJ.

  2. I remember that I was a young mother at home giving myself a perm when he was shot. It seems incredible to me that it's been fifty years since the Civil Rights Act was passed! You sure know how to have fun with those grands, BTW. :-)

  3. There has been quite a lot of media about LBJ lately which is tied into this 50th anniversary of the Civil a Rights Act. Unfortunately, Vietnam tainted his presidency, but what he did in getting this law passed was monumental and showed what a really great man and leader he was.

  4. What an interesting post. I well remember the assassination of the President. Biggest thing that ever happened in my history, I do believe.

  5. Lately I've been thinking about Lyndon Johnson's humility. Can you imagine a politician choosing not to run because he failed to end a war or failed on any personal level? Hubris runs deep among today's politicians. They need to study LBJ and follow his example. I'm glad you honored him. via A to Z Challenge

  6. Great post! that must have been an interesting visit to Dallas. I've been there a few times, but never thought to see those places. Maybe next time.


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