LBJ Presidential Library

Ashlyn Parker

On the final day of the trip, we made sure to stop by the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Presidential Library. This will be the third presidential library we have been to since we have also seen Harry S. Truman’s and George H. W. Bush’s Presidential Libraries.

Lyndon B. Johnson was a small-town Texas boy born in 1908. His dad worked in the Texas legislature and his mom was a college-educated woman who was ahead of her time. He was very involved throughout his time in public school including being class president of his 6-student class. He ended up graduating from Southwest Texas State Teachers College with a bachelor’s in education. During his teaching years near the border, the job was able to open his eyes to true poverty and discrimination even among young kids.

Because of the struggle he observed in his students, they inspired him to get into politics to be able to make changes for the underserved communities. He soon started working for a US Congressman in Washington, D.C. while attending law school. He shortly became a senator himself preparing him for his goal to become president. When he lost the Democratic nominee in 1963, John F. Kennedy took him in as a vice president.

Due to the unfortunate assassination of John F. Kennedy, LBJ became a United States president from 1963-1969. Through his library, we learned about this extraordinary man who accomplished so much in 6 years that inspired so much change for the better in America.

The memories of his students boosted his motivation to deal with these issues he saw back home to get them handled now. He extended the new deal made by Franklin Roosevelt which would help provide better access to healthcare and education for low-income families. For example, the Headstart program promotes education to young children in low-income families.

One cause LBJ is notable for is helping certain populations who did not have a voice, such as minority or poverty-ridden groups. During his presidency, he was able to pass acts that enacted a lot of social change, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibited discrimination on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in any instance. Thus, ending segregation which became a huge victory for the Civil Rights movement.

Even though the U.S. did not land on the moon during LBJ’s Presidency he contributed many efforts to make it happen. Therefore, in the museum, they have a section dedicated to America winning the space race and putting a man on the moon. They even have a real moon rock!

LBJ’s most infamous move in the presidency was getting America more involved in the Vietnam war. He was increasing the military presence in Vietnam, which resulted in many young lives being lost in the battle against communism. Many people protested our involvement ultimately taking a big toll on the president.

All of his conversations were recorded in the White House office telephone, so in the Presidential library, you can listen to over 100 phone calls via a wall-mounted phone throughout the library. We each got to experience different phone calls with him some being from other people in government and his mistress.

He was good with people but did not know the definition of personal space. He can be seen in many photos leaning over people with his 6’4’’ frame laughing or yelling, otherwise known as “the Johnson Treatment”. We were actually able to get a feel for the experience ourselves with a picture of LBJ leaning over us.

Lucky for us, we were also able to see the special exhibit of Lady Bird: Beyond the Wildflowers. It featured all kinds of memorabilia from her life including books, diplomas, letters, outfits, and more. This exhibit was made to hone in on who Mrs. Johnson really was and give a broader focus on her life outside of LBJ. My favorite part of this exhibit was getting to see all the elegant dresses she would wear to all sorts of different social events.

Not many other college students can say they have gone to three presidential libraries, so we are always thankful for these opportunities to learn more about our nation’s history. We are always impressed by the artifacts and stories told in the libraries that really in-body the person they are representing.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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