Remembering LBJ, 40 Years Later

On this day 40 years ago, journalist Walter Cronkite broke the news that the 36th President of the United States had died.

President Lyndon B. Johnson—one of only three Texans to hold the nation’s highest office—lived from 1908-1973. Vice president to John F. Kennedy, Johnson assumed the presidency mere hours after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, completed his term, and was reelected in 1964.

Though his legacy is largely defined by his role in the Vietnam War, Johnson also made lasting contributions in other areas. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and created the “Great Society”—a set of domestic programs that would eventually establish Medicare and Medicaid. The final piece of major legislation that Johnson would sign as president was the Gun Control Act of 1968. He was also among the four Americans to ever hold all four elected federal offices: representative, senator, vice president, and president.

Johnson’s presidential library, which recently underwent a $10 million renovation, is on the Forty Acres. The adjacent Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, built simultaneously with the library, has granted 3,375 master’s degrees since its first class of 1972, and 43 PhDs since 1996.

Photo courtesy Yoichi Okamoto.

 

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