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Posted Aug 27, 2015

August 27 – President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Legacy for a “Great Society”

8-27-15-LyndonJohnson_signs_Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965Thursday, August 27, 2015

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the presidency and quickly pressed for enactment of unfinished legislation initiated by JFK. In 1964 Congress passed and Johnson signed into law two particularly significant pieces of legislation– the Civil Rights Act and the Economic Opportunity Act.

The Civil Rights Act banned discrimination based on race or gender and ensured equal opportunity in the workplace. The Economic Opportunity Act addressed systemic causes of poverty by establishing important education and human services programs. Job Corps, work-study programs for college students, Volunteers in Service of America (VISTA), Adult Basic Education grants, loans to rural families, and Community Action Programs (CAPS) were authorized through the Act.

These early legislative victories gave LBJ the green light to advance a “war on poverty” in which he challenged Americans to build a “Great Society.”  After soundly defeating conservative Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, LBJ harnessed his extensive tactical skills and his forceful personality to pass an ambitious list of progressive legislative initiatives. His liberal domestic agenda clashed, however, with his aggressive policies in Vietnam. The financial and human cost of the Vietnam War eventually overshadowed his domestic agenda. Critics charged that many of the programs and services established during his administration created bureaucracies rather than cost effective solutions. Never the less, the impact of Johnson’s “Great Society” continues to affect the lives of Americans today.

Here is a list of major federal acts approved during President Johnson’s administration.

1963: Clean Air Act

1963: Higher Education Facilities Act

1963: Vocational Education Act

1964: Civil Rights Act

1964: Urban Mass Transportation Act

1964: Wilderness Act

1964: Nurse Training Act

1964: Food Stamp Act

1964: Economic Opportunity Act

1964: Housing Act

1965: Higher Education Act

1965: Older Americans Act

1965:  Social Security Amendments Act

1965: Voting Rights Act

1965: Immigration and Nationality Services Act

1966: Animal Welfare Act

1966: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

1967: Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

1967: Public Broadcasting Act

1968: Architectural Barriers Act

1968: Bilingual Education Act

1968: Civil Rights Act  

1968: Gun Control Act

Photo:

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Sources:

www.pbs.org/johngardner/chapters/4c.html

www.ushistory.org/us/56e.asp

www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/sixties/resources/study-ais-great-society-legislation


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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