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Review – LBJ Presidential Library, Austin, TX – March 2017

In 1963 I was in 5th grade when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon B. Johnson became president. I remember when Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) ran against LBJ for president in 1964 because my Arizona grandparents were staunch Goldwater Republicans. Their bumper sticker was ‘AuH2O’ and my grandfather built a bomb shelter on the ranch. They stored preserves down there. LBJ was a Texan, I knew, and he held his beagles up by their ears. By the time I was of an age to remember (or care) about politics, Nixon was president and I was busy protesting the Vietnam War. Oh, and LBJ made me wear seat belts.

So I didn’t know a lot of what LBJ did as president, but by the time I was through going through his presidential library I was enormously grateful for his presidency and understand why his presidential ranking is moving up. I’m not going to go into the complete history; you can learn that here. And here.

The library was dedicated in 1971. It is beautiful and grandiose, with a sweeping staircase that showcases a mural of presidents that is a showstopper in itself.

There is  LBJ’s White House office with its three tiny television sets. There is the the Lincoln Town Car he used as president. There is a complete section on Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification program.

LBJ was the president who installed tape recorders in the Oval Office. I listened to him chat with Jackie Kennedy two weeks after the assassination; he reassured her that the country is behind her; she says she doesn’t think she can come back to the White House now that “Jack” is gone. He calls her “sweetie” and tells her if she needs anything he is there. It brought tears to me as I listened to  her breathy voice and his Texan charm. I also listened to him tell Alabama governor George Wallace that he was to “let those people in school.”

LBJ signed into law the Civil Rights Voting Act

 

He signed in Medicaid and the Freedom of Information Act (if you don’t know how important the FOIA is, go here).

LBJ also signed in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


He thought of himself as finishing the New Deal that Franklin D. Roosevelt had put in place with his own Great Society.

He also put the draft lottery in place. My boyfriend decided to be conscientious objector because his number was low.

 

This is a list of the landmark laws he signed into being.

LBJ couldn’t get out of Vietnam. That crushed him. That is why he decided not to run in 1968. And Nixon won.

This hardly scratches the surface; you just have to go. Or go to the LBJ Library website. It is worth your time to gain some knowledge of what has come before. It helped take some fear away from my heart as we move through present day political chaos. There was chaos in the mid-sixties, too, and we got through it intact as a country. LBJ was the right leader at the right time, though.

 

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