LBJ Documentary "The Great Society"



the Great Society was revolutionary when you look back and think of what America was like before these programs were adopted life was very different there was an outbreak of hope across this country and it was quixotic it was kind of Arcturian this idea of might for right these things are all resonating to this day I really don't know where I'd be without top core thank God for Medicare I can feel worthy I can be green I think many of the Great Society programs were so successful had an impact on so many of our lives an overwhelmingly positive way we have to question why did we move away from in the 60s was a time when the old culture kind of broke open the country was now receptive to a burst of energy of progressive reform the country wanted to heal itself to be healed by joining and social change efforts and Johnson when he became president he was committed to the idea of something he grandly called great society will you join in the battle to build the Great Society to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit Great Society was a cluster of projects undertaken by the president he saw it racial discrimination and he saw poverty as moral issues not just as political issues and he knew that what the country had gone through and where we were in the 60s was not where we needed to be in 1964 Johnson and civil rights groups managed to pass the first major civil rights legislation and it was the first comprehensive civil rights legislation in the United States since 1875 the civil rights act said public accommodations have to be available to everybody no discrimination on the basis of race so with one fell swoop the Great Society wiped out all the whites only signs in 1965 the president proposed the Voting Rights Act the assumption was that everybody could vote but everybody being able to vote did not mean that everybody's vote was counted or even accepted course until that Voting Rights Act there were all sorts of restrictions on black voting across the South being poll taxes or be it literacy tests this ended discrimination in voting open up voting to all Americans of course when you assure people that they can vote they then want to run before the Voting Rights Act there were about 300 elected black officials in this United States today there are over 10,000 I ran for the school board and I'll always feel that my becoming the first African American elected to public office in Travis County was an outgrowth of the concern and the commitment that people had I think President Johnson was the best president for black people that there's been in this country and I say that with all due respect to President Lincoln whom I revere Johnson did what he did because in his heart it hurt him that there were so many poor people this administration today here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in America the war on poverty was part of this idea that you have not a handout but a hand up in the 60s it was hardscrabble for a lot of folks and what we saw with the war on poverty was for a lot of people just meant jobs Johnson often said that he wanted to make tax eaters into tax payers what it's saying is we're going to bring the less affluent into the mainstream of the society when Lyndon Johnson became president the poverty rate was about 22 percent when he left office five years later the poverty rate was 13% that decline is the greatest one-time reduction in poverty in the history of this country maybe the greatest impact that the Great Society had has been the Medicare program in the 60s there was no health care coverage provided by corporations people who reach the age of 65 did not have guaranteed health insurance and of course Medicare now has tens of millions of people in it I had just turned 65 in January and May I was diagnosed with breast cancer thank God I had Medicare it made all the difference in the world and you know I would have been devastated financially had Medicare not been there it is one of the most popular social programs in the country's history and it seems like a humane and generous act of the society you know most presidents are just happy to have one or two bits of legislation that endure that have a historical resonance to it Johnson slammed out bill after Bill act after act and education alone he proposed legislation to provide scholarships grants and work-study programs for college students that legislation today provides the resources for 60% of the people that are in college in the United States of America I got the maximum amount any person could get to go to college I certainly would not have been able attend school without this type of help the whole concept of those programs was that the decision ought to be based on whether you had the ability to excel not whether your daddy had a big thick wallet and then headstart headstart it's an exciting experience for me to know that hundreds of thousands of children are being given the devotion and attention they need Head Start was a program to allow partial to begin educational training I remember coming home one day actually was the first day of kindergarten and telling my mom everybody loves me and you know she was just so enthused and I really think it's attributable to my experience with Head Start because it helped to build the confidence so that when I did start school I was ready and able to learn and able to work with other children when they get a chance to go to school earlier the assumption is that the next level of education is going to improve they keep coming all day 350 youngsters with one thing in common the opening of the Rodman Job Corps center at New Bedford Massachusetts the Job Corps was part of the war on poverty at the time there were hundreds of thousands of with no real job opportunities Johnson wants this job core as a place people can train come away with skills this was legislation that was offering work to young men and women and I think it's been pretty successful it's taught me and several people that I've known that have gone out there a lot of Independence a lot of kids in any city are great they have great talents but they don't have to bring it out of themselves and that's one thing job Corps does it brings the good out of people Linda Johnson created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which is the source of public radio and public television hundreds of stations all over the country created the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities I think for America it was a revolutionary idea to have government support for the Arts as the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center we have worked with the National Endowment for the Arts down with a humanities in so many ways with so many programs which has touched hundreds of thousands of kids all over our country I would hate to imagine a world where there wasn't funding of the Arts the National Geographic calls Lyndon Johnson the nation's greatest environmental president I think Lady Bird Johnson was one of the great first ladies in American history she was the environmental first lady in many ways there was a Co presidency about keeping America beautiful and clean Seminole was the Wilderness Act of 1964 which preserved large patches of wild America there's also the clean air clean river clean waters act of all the reckless devastations of our national heritage none is really more shameful than the continued poisoning of our rivers and our air he said that every administration has to have an environmental record and since Johnson were all trying to match what he was able to accomplish in that regard America is always best when it is operating close to its founding ideas among those founding ideals is that it's our country and we should care about it and we should take care of it Indian Bill of Rights fair housing urban mass transit one of the wonders of Lyndon Johnson was it he was looking at the future it's the protocol that Lyndon Johnson created that we're living in an away America today we are all the beneficiaries of Johnson's vision college work-study Kennedy culturals them Age Discrimination Act the question that people have is how do we get back to such a progressive agenda they can look to the past to see examples aid Appalachian school breakfasts Scenic Rivers and trails we have stellar moments in the history of our country we can experience that same euphoria by seeking things that we haven't done that are there for us and we're going to do that the best of American life cries for I hope it may be said a hundred years from now that by working together we help to make our country more just for all of its people I believe at least it will be said that we pride you you




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