Friday, March 23, 2018

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Spring 2018 Part 6

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Miriam Makeba

One of the greatest heroes in human history was Sister Miriam Makeba. We remember her legacy and her glorious contributions to the human race. Miriam Makeba was born in Johannesburg to Swazi and Xhosa parents. She traveled the world to spread her great, sacrosanct messages of equality, music, love, and human justice. She lived in this Earth for decades as an ambassador of not only being against apartheid, but showing international music as a precise, important means of bringing people together. She was full of compassion, strength, and intellectual power throughout her life. She loved Africa unconditionally and we love Africa eternally too. Africa is the birthplace of humanity with its inspiring people, and its glorious cultural diversity.  Decades ago, she was in a movie that opposed apartheid in Africa. The 1959 film is called Come Back, Africa, an anti-apartheid film produced and directed by the American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. Her music was ahead of its time and she was one of the first African musicians that had worldwide acclaim. She worked with American civil rights leaders and she made famous records throughout the 1950’s, the 1960’s and beyond. She made tons of people aware that freedom in South Africa means freedom for humanity globally. Also, unsung anti-apartheid heroes must always be acknowledged for their courage too. She gave us light and hope. Miriam Makeba inspires us to this very day. Miriam Makeba was an icon and she will always be a legendary black woman.

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The Beginning

The story of Miriam Makeba begins in South Africa. She was born on March 4, 1932 in the black township of Prospect. That is near Johannesburg. Her mother was a Swazi woman named Christina Makeba. She was a traditional healer or a sangoma and a domestic worker. He father was a Xhosa human being. His name was Caswell Makeba and he was a teacher. He passed away when he was only 6 years old. Her mother gave her the name Zenzile. Later, she was 18 days old. At that time, her mother was arrested and sentenced for 6 months in prison for selling umqombothi. Umqombothi is a homemade beer brewed from malt and cornmeal. Since the family couldn’t afford the small fine required to avoid a jail term, her mother went to jail including her (as a young toddler). Makeba sang in the choir of the Kilnerton Training Institute in Pretoria as a child. That location was an all-black Methodist primary school. She attended the school for eight years. Her gift of singing was praised by people at the school. Makeba was baptized as a Protestant. She sang in church choirs in English, Xhosa, Sotho, and Zulu. Later, she said that she learned to sing in English before she could speak the language. Her family moved into Transvaal when Makeba was a child. She did domestic work after her father passed away.

She also worked as a nanny. She said that she was a shy person during those years. Her mother worked for white families in Johannesburg and had to live away from her six children. Miriam Makeba lived for a while with her grandmother and a large number of cousins in Pretoria. She was influenced by her family’s musical tastes. Her mother in fact played many traditional instruments. Her older brother collected records like those of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald (who are legendary black American musicians). He taught her about songs. Her father played the piano.  Her family inspired her in her pursuit of musical expression. On 1949, Makeba married James Kubaby, who was a policeman in training. They had their only child named Bongi Makeba. That was in 1950. Later, Makeba was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband was said to have beaten her. He left her after a 2 year marriage. After one decade, she overcame cervical cancer via a hysterectomy (or the surgical removal of the uterus of a woman).

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Early Career

Miriam Makeba’s start of her professional musical career started with the Cuban Brothers. They were a South African all-men close harmony group. She sang covers of many popular American songs with them. By the age of 21, she joined a jazz group called the Manhattan Brothers. This group sang a mixture of South African songs and pieces from popular African American groups. She was the only woman in the group. With the Manhattan Brothers, she recorded her first hit called “Laku Tshoni Ilanga.” That was in 1953 and it developed her a national reputation as a musician. In 1956, Miriam Makeba joined a new all-women group called the Skylarks. This group sang a blend of jazz and traditional South African melodies. They were formed by Gallotone Records and the group was also known as the Sunbeams. While traveling abroad, she sang with both the Skylarks and the Manhattan Brothers. She sang alongside the Rhodesian-born (now Zimbabwe) musician Dorothy Masuka (with the Skylarks). She followed Dorothy’s music including the music from Dolly Rathebe.

Several of the Skylarks' pieces from this period became popular; the music historian Rob Allingham later described the group as "real trendsetters, with harmonization that had never been heard before." Makeba received no royalties from her work with the Skylarks. She met Nelson Mandela in 1955 while she was performing with the Manhattan Brothers. Makeba said that Nelson said that she was “going to be someone.”  In 1956, Gallotone Records released "Lovely Eyes", Makeba's first solo success; the Xhosa lyric about a man looking for his beloved in jails and hospitals was replaced with the unrelated and innocuous line "You tell such lovely lies with your two lovely eyes" in the English version. The record became the first South African record to chart on the United States Billboard Top 100. In 1957, Makeba was featured on the cover of Drum magazine.

In 1959, Makeba sang the lead female role in the Broadway inspired African jazz opera called King Kong. Among those in the case was the musician Hugh Masekela. The musical was performed to racially integrated audiences. This raised her profile among all South Africans regardless of skin color. By 1959, she had a short guest appearance in the anti-apartheid movie Come Back, Africa. It was directed by the American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. Rogosin cast her after seeing her on stage in African Jazz and Variety show.  She performed for 18 months on the show. The film blended parts of a documentary and fiction. It had to be filmed in secret as the government was expected to be hostile to it. Makeba appeared on stage and sang 2 songs. Her appearance in the film lasted for about 4 minutes. The viewers loved her cameo. Rogosin organized a visa for her to attend the premiere of the film at the 24th Venice Film Festival in Italy. The film won the prestigious Critics’ Choice Award in Italy. Makeba’s presence was key in the film since it showed a cosmopolitan black identity that also connected with the working class people because of the dialogue being in Zulu. Her popularity increased after the release of the movie of Come Back, Africa (which was a honest movie about the strong spirit of black South Africans). She traveled into London and New York City to perform her great music.

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In London, she met the American singer Harry Belafonte. He helped her with her first solo recordings. These recordings included “Pata Pata.” That song would be released many years later. Another song was a traditional Xhosa song called, “"Qongqothwane", which she had first performed with the Skylarks. Though "Pata Pata"—described by Musician magazine as a "groundbreaking Afropop gem”—became her most famous song, Makeba described it as "one of my most insignificant songs.” While in England, she married Sonny Pillay, a South African ballad singer of Indian descent; they divorced within a few months. She moved into New York City making her U.S. music debut on November 1, 1959 on the Steve Allen Show in Los Angeles for a television audience of 60 million people. Her New York debut at the Village Vanguard occurred soon after. She sang in Xhosa and Zulu, and performed a Yiddish folk song. Her audience at this concert included Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. Her performance received strongly positive reviews from critics. She first came to popular and critical attention in jazz clubs, after which her reputation grew rapidly. Belafonte worked to handle the logistics of her first performances. When she first moved into America, she lived in Greenwich Village along with other musicians and actors. She worked as a babysitter for a time.

The evil Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 changed her life forever. The massacre was about black anti-apartheid protesters being murdered by white supremacist South African police forces. After the massacre, Makeba learned that her mother had died. She tried to go home into South Africa to witness her funeral, but her South African passport was cancelled. 2 of Makeba’s family members were killed in the massacre. That is why she was concerned about her family and many of her relatives were in South Africa including her daughter. The nine year old Bongi joined her mother into the U.S. in August 1960. During her first years in America, Miriam Makeba rarely sung explicitly political music. Yet, her popularity had led an increase of awareness of apartheid and the anti-apartheid movement. Following the Sharpeville killings, Makeba felt a responsibility to help, as she had been able to leave the country while others had not. From this point, she became an increasingly outspoken critic of apartheid and the white-minority government; before the massacre, she had taken care to avoid overtly political statements in South Africa. Now, this was a different era and Miriam Makeba would become one of the greatest activists in human history.

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Here is Miriam Makeba at the United Nations in 1963. 


During her exile, Miriam Makeba’s musical career increased greatly in America. She signed with the recording label RCA Victor. Later, she released her first studio album entitled, Miriam Makeba in 1960. It was backed by Belafonte’s band. RCA chose to buy out Makeba’s contract with Gallotone Records. This was despite the fact that Makeba couldn’t perform in South Africa back then. Gallotone received US$45,000 in the deal, which meant that Makeba received no royalties for her debut album. The album included one of her most famous hits in the US, "Qongqothwane", which was known in English as "The Click Song" because Makeba's audiences could not pronounce the Xhosa name. Time magazine called her the "most exciting new singing talent to appear in many years," and Newsweek compared her voice to "the smoky tones and delicate phrasing" of Ella Fitzgerald and the "intimate warmth" of Frank Sinatra. Since the album wasn’t commercially successful, Makeba was briefly dropped from the RCA label. She was re-signed soon after as the label recognized the commercial possibilities of the growing American interest in African culture. Her South African identity was downplayed during her first singing, but it was strongly empathized the second time as a representation of increased interest. Makeba made many appearances on television, often with Belafonte.

In 1962, Miriam Makeba and Belafonte sang at the birthday party for U.S. President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, but Makeba didn’t go to the party afterwards because she was ill. Kennedy nevertheless insisted on meeting her, so Belafonte sent a car to pick her up.  In 1964, Makeba released her second studio album for RCA called, The World of Miriam Makeba. An early example of world music, the album peaked at number eighty-six on the Billboard 200. Makeba’s music had a cross racial appeal in America. Black Americans, white Americans, and other Americans were fans of her. Black African Americans related our experiences of racial segregation to Makeba’s struggle against apartheid. She was friends and allies with many African exiles and emigres in New York City like Hugh Masekela. She married him from 1963 to 1968. During their marriage, Makeba and Masekela were neighbors of the jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie in Englewood, New Jersey. They spent much of their time in Harlem. She came to know actors like Marlon Brando and Lauren Bacall plus musicians like Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles.  Fellow singer-activist Nina Simone became friendly with Makeba along with actress Cicely Tyson. Makeba and Simone performed together at Carnegie Hall.

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Continued Activism

Miriam Makeba was among the black entertainers, activists, and intellectuals in New York City at that time who believed that the civil rights movement and popular culture could reinforce each other to create “a sense of intertwined political and cultural vibrancy.” Other people who believed in this true ideal were Maya Angelou and Sidney Poitier. She later described about her difficulty living with Jim Crow apartheid in America. She said that, "There wasn't much difference in America; it was a country that had abolished slavery but there was apartheid in its own way.” She continued to travel and promote activism. Her music was popular in Europe too. She toured and performed there. She added songs from Latin America, Europe, Israel, and in Africa to her repertoire via the advice from Belafonte. She visited Kenya in 1962 in support of the country’s independence from British colonial rule. She also raised funds for its independence leader Jomo Kenyatta. Later in 1962, she testified before the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid about the effects of the system.

She wanted economic sanctions against South Africa’s National Party government (that government endorsed the evil apartheid system). She requested an arms embargo against South Africa, because the weapons sold to the government would likely be used against black women and children. Later, South Africa banned her music. Her South African citizenship and right to return were revoked. So, Makeba was a stateless person. She was soon issued passports by Algeria, Guinea, Belgium, and Ghana. Throughout her life, she held nine passports. She was granted honorary citizenship in ten countries.   Soon after her testimony to the United Nations, Haile Selassie or the emperor of Ethiopia, invited her to sing at the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity. She was the only performer to be invited. As the fact of her ban from South Africa, she was a well-known. She was a cause célébre for Western liberals, and her presence in the African-American civil rights movement provided a link between that movement and the anti-apartheid struggle. In 1964, she was taught the song "Malaika" by a Kenyan student while backstage at a performance in San Francisco; the song later became a staple of her performances.

Throughout the 1960’s, Miriam Makeba strengthened her involvement in a wide range of black-centered political movements. She worked in support of the civil rights, anti-apartheid, Black Consciousness, and Black Power movements. She briefly met the Trinidadian American activist Kwame Ture (his original name was Stokely Carmichael). Kwame Ture was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and an ally in the Black Panther Party for years. Belafonte invited Ture to one of Makeba’s concerts. They met again in Conakry six years later. They entered a romantic relationship. It was initially secret from all but their closest friends and family. Makeba was involved in fundraising activities for many civil rights groups including a benefit concert for the 1962 Southern Christian Leadership Conference that civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as “the event of the year.”  Following a concert and rally in Atlanta in support of King, Makeba and others were denied entrance to a restaurant as a result of Jim Crow laws, leading to a televised protest in front of the establishment. She also criticized King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference for its investment in South African companies, informing press that "Now my friend of long standing supports the country's persecution of my people and I must find a new idol.”  Her identity as an African woman in the US civil rights movement helped create "an emerging liberal consensus" that extreme racial discrimination, whether domestically or internationally, was harmful.

Also, Dr. King opposed apartheid and supported Nelson Mandela too. In 1964 she testified at the UN for a second time, quoting a song by Vanessa Redgrave in calling for quick action against the South African government. In 1966, both Makeba and Belafonte received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. The album dealt with the plight of black South Africans under apartheid. It had songs that were critical of the South African government like "Ndodemnyama we Verwoerd" ("Watch our Verwoerd", a reference to Hendrik Verwoerd, one of the architects of apartheid). It sold greatly. Makeba’s profile increased in America. Belafonte and Makeba’s concert tour following its release was often sold out and the album has been described as the best they made together. Makeba used lyrics in Swahili, Xhosa, and Sotho. American audiences loved her for her love of her African heritage. In 1967, more than ten years after she first recorded the song, the single "Pata Pata" was released in the US on an album of the same title, and became a worldwide hit. During its recording, she and Belafonte had a disagreement, after which they stopped recording together.

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This rare picture showed Amiri Baraka, Amina Baraka, Miriam Makeba, and Kwame Ture. 

Miriam Makeba and Kwame Ture married on March of 1968. There was a backlash against this, but Miriam is her own black woman who has the right to marry who she wanted. Her popularity in America started to decline. Conservatives viewed her as a militant and extremist. Her performances were cancelled and her coverage in the press declined despite her efforts to portray her marriage as apolitical. Many American audiences stopped supporting her. Black Americans and the rest of her fans of diverse backgrounds continued to love her. The U.S. government took an interest in her activities. The Central Intelligence Agency started to follow her and placed hidden microphones in her apartment. The FBI also placed her under surveillance. While she and Kwame Ture (her new husband) traveled in the Bahamas, she was banned from returning to the United States. She was refused a visa. As a result, the couple moved into Guinea in Africa. That is where Kwame called himself Kwame Ture. Makeba didn’t return to America until 1987. Guinea remained Makeba’s home for the next 15 years.

She and her husband became close to President Ahmed Sekou Toure and his wife, Andree. Touré wanted to create a new style of African music, and all musicians received a minimum wage if they practiced for several hours every day. Makeba later stated that "I've never seen a country that did what Sékou Touré did for artists.” After her rejection from the US she began to write music more directly critical of the US government's racial policies, recording and singing songs such as "Lumumba" in 1970, (referring to Patrice Lumumba, the assassinated Prime Minister of the Congo), and "Malcolm X" in 1974. During this time, she performed more frequently in African countries. More African nations became independent of European colonial powers. She was invited to sing at independence ceremonies in places like Kenya, Angola, Zambia, Tanganyika, and Mozambique. By September 1974, she performed alongside a multitude of well-known African and American musicians at the Zaire 74 festivals in Kinshasa, Zaire (formerly the Congo). This was around the time when Muhammad Ali fought and defeated George Foreman in the boxing match in Congo. She also was a diplomat for Ghana. She was appointed Guinea’s official delegate to the UN in 1975.

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She addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1975. She performed in Europe and in Asia. She didn’t perform in America where there was a de facto boycott in effect. In Africa, she was very popular. She was the highlight of FESTAC 77, which was a Pan-African arts festival in Nigeria in 1977. During a Liberian performance of “Pata Pata,” the stadium was so loud that she was unable to complete the song. “Pata Pata” and her other songs were banned in South Africa. During this period, she sang the song of “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” She never recorded the song. Makeba later said that during this period, she accepted the label of Mama Africa. In 1976, the South African government replaced English with Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in all schools. This caused the Soweto uprising where black children wanted to promote their own black South African identity. Between 15,000 and 20,000 students took part, caught unprepared, the police opened fire on the protesting children. The police killed hundreds of black people including injuring over a thousand.  Hugh Masekela wrote “Soweto Blues’ in response to the massacre of innocent black people. The song was performed by Makeba and it was a staple of her live performances for many years. A review in the magazine Musician said that the song had "searingly righteous lyrics" about the uprising that "cut to the bone." In 1973, she was separated from Kwame Ture. In 1978, they divorced and in 1980, she married Bageot Bah, an airline executive.

Miriam Makeba’s daughter named Bongi was a singer in her own right. She accompanied her mother on stage. She died in childbirth in 1985. Makeba was left responsible for her two grandchildren. She moved out of Guinea. She settled in the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert district of the Belgian capital of Brussels. In 1986, Masekela introduced Makeba to Paul Simon (who is a famous American singer). In a few months later, she embarked on Simon’s very successful Graceland Tour. The tour concluded with 2 concerts held in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was filed in 1987 of the release of Graceland: The African Concert. After touring the world with Simon, Warner Bros. Records signed Makeba and she released Sangoma ("Healer"), an album of healing chants named in honor of her sangoma mother. Her involvement with Simon caused controversy: Graceland had been recorded in South Africa, breaking the cultural boycott of the country, and thus Makeba's participation in the tour was regarded as contravening the boycott (which Makeba herself endorsed). When she prepared for the Graceland tour, she started on her autobiography. She worked with journalist James Hall. Her autobiography was entitled, “Makeba: My Story.” The book shown information about her experiences involving apartheid and the criticism by her of the commodification and consumerism she experienced in America. The book was translated into five languages.

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Return to South Africa

She took part in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute. This was a popular music concert that took place on June 11, 1988 at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was broadcast to an audience of 600 million across 67 countries. The political aspects of the concert were heavily censored in the U.S. by the Fox television network. The use of music was used to raise awareness about the evil of apartheid. A survey after the concert found that among young people between the ages of 16 and 24, three quarters knew of Nelson Mandela and supported his release from prison. After growing pressure from the anti-apartheid movement domestically and internationally, State President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1990 reversed the ban on the African National Congress (plus other anti-apartheid organizations). He announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison.  Mandela was released on February of 1990. Mandela persuaded Makeba to return to South Africa, which she did, using her French passport on June 10, 1990.

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Later Years

Miriam Makeba, Gillespie, Simone, and Masekela recorded and released her studio album in 1991 called, "Eyes on Tomorrow." It merged jazz, R&B, pop, and traditional African music. It was hit across Africa. Makeba and Gillespie toured the world together to promote it. By 1992, she she starred in the film Sarafina! Sarafina! is one of my favorite films. The movie is about students involved in the 1976 Soweto uprising. Makeba portrayed the title character's mother Angelina. The title character is the famous South African actress named Leleti Khumalo (she was born in Durban, South Africa on March 30, 1970). That was the role which the New York Times mentioned that Miriam Makeba performed with "immense dignity." By October 16, 1999, Makeba was named a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Homeland was the name of her January 2000 album. It was produced by the New York City based record company Putumayo World Music. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category. She worked closely with Graca Mchael-Mandeal or the South African first lady. They both advocated for children suffering from HIV/AIDS, child soldiers, and the physically handicapped.

She formed the Makeba Centre for Girls which was home for orphans. This was her personal project.  She also took part in the 2002 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, which examined the struggles of black South Africans against apartheid through the music of the period. Her second autobiography was entitled, "Makeba: The Miriam Mekeba Story." It was published in 2004. In 2005, she said that she would retire and began a farewell tour. She had osteoarthritis. She continued to perform until her death. During this period, her grandchildren Nelson Lumumba Lee and Zenzi Lee, and her great-grandchild Lindelani, occasionally joined her performances. She was ill during a concert in Castel Colturno near Caserta, Italy. This was on November 9, 2008.
The concert had been organized to support the writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a criminal organisation active in the Campania region. She suffered a heart attack after singing her hit song "Pata Pata", and was taken to the Pineta Grande clinic, where doctors were unable to revive her. She was 76 years old.

Makeba and Dizzy Gillespie on a stageFive-image collage depicting Youssou N'Dour, Salif Keita, Angélique Kidjo, Ali Farka Touré, and Baaba Maal, clockwise from the top left


Sister Miriam Makeba was one of the greatest singers in human existence. Her legacy encompasses great singing and social activism. She revolutionized not only African music, but music in general. Her style was a combination of African music, jazz, R&B, and other genres. She made more than 30 albums during her life. World music was loved by her. Human beings from across racial and national plus political backgrounds love her music. She loved South Africa and believed in justice for humanity. As an active fighter against apartheid, she spoke out and worked for social change. She sang songs in Xhosa and in English. She promoted her hair as an liberated, beautiful black African aesthetic. She was a gorgeous black woman. She wore African jewelry. She was Mama Africa. Other musicians influenced by her include Youssou N'Dour, Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure, Baaba Maal, and Angelique Kidjo. She increased the power and vitality of world music. Pata Pata is a record that will always be cherished by us. She promoted Pan-Africanism, liberation, and black identity. We should unite with the African Diaspora and Africans globally. She once promoted unity among black people of African descent globally by mentioning the following magnificient words:  "Africans who live everywhere should fight everywhere. The struggle is no different in South Africa, the streets of Chicago, Trinidad or Canada. The Black people are the victims of capitalism, racism and oppression, period." Miriam Makeba promoted equality among the sexes and social justice. She won many awards (like the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Prize in 1986 and the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United Nations Association of Germany or the DGVN in Berlin for promoting peace and international understanding) because of her great accomplishments. Legend, strong, wise, and consciousness personified plus defined the life of Sister Miriam Makeba.

Rest in Power Sister Miriam Makeba.

Conclusion (for Spring of 2018)

Certainly, after all of these years, we haven't backed down. We still believe in fighting against economic inequality, which is one of the most important issues of the 21st century. We believe in the growth of jobs and living wages via progressive policies from the super wealthy paying their fair share of taxation to investments in public infrastructure programs (used to repair road, bridges, hospitals, schools, etc.) without massive corporate privatization. We believe in education that is strong, modernized, and creative which benefits all children not just some children in more affluent, rich communities. Likewise, we believe in social justice and an end to police brutality. In terms of the environment, we fight for a clean environment. It was our forebears who fought for Social Security, a 40 hour work week, voting rights, civil rights, suffrage, and other important regulations in dealing with the environment plus health safety standards. In our time, we are renewed in our commitment to human justice.

Donald Trump, nativists, and xenophobes continue to spread lies about immigrants and immigration in general. Therefore, it is always the right time to show the truth about immigration in America. One big myth is that immigrants collectively take away American jobs. The truth is that immigrants add to demand and increase jobs. For the few past decades, deindustralization, trickled down economics, and other economically regressive policies (not immigrants) have harmed American jobs for real. Some believe that we don’t need any more immigrants, which is false. The reality is that the American population is massively aging and retiring at a high rate. Immigration is essential to build up the retirement system. Immigrants pay taxes. There is a recent study that says that undocumented immigrants pay $11.8 billion dollars in taxes (in 2012), which is a net positive to state plus local budgets. Comprehensive immigration reform can add more 2.2 billion dollars in extra tax revenue. Another lie promoted by xenophobes is that they believe that legal immigration and undocumented migration is increasing in America. The truth is that net rate of undocumented immigration into America has declined in recent years. The net rate of undocumented immigration went from 12.2 million in 2007 to 11.3 million in 2015. The blame for economic problems in America is not caused by immigrants.

The real issue is that economic oligarchs have promoted economic unfairness and economic inequality via their policies (for decades and centuries in America) which harm the masses of people (regardless of immigration status) nationwide and worldwide. That is why I believe in comprehensive immigration solutions whereby those who are here and are undocumented can have a pathway to citizenship. Scapegoating immigrants doesn’t solve anything and it’s xenophobic plus wrong. I agree with DACA and I certainly stand with the Dreamers. Not to mention that many immigrants are black people. Therefore, I support black immigrants as I always believe in black liberation. Also, we must promote the freedom of the press. Trump is known for demonizing the press and journalists in ad hominem attacks. Trump is the notorious liar by saying that there is massive voting fraud and he won in a landslide (which are notorious falsehoods). Trump is known to block many of the media from traveling with him and has threatened to sue the media (and he wanted to change libel laws, which attacks the freedom of speech). We must always support responsible media, especially media that legitimately critiques those in power. I reject imperialism too. One solution to economic inequality is to use progressive economic policies and end racism. The marketplace can’t be trusted unconditionally which is why laws exist to regulate the environment and other aspects of our society. Addressing racism and getting rid of it (plus other policies being instituted) eliminate economic inequality too. After what we have lived through, we still rise.

By Timothy

Spring 2018 Part 5

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LBJ Part 2

The Voting Rights Act

Lyndon Baines Johnson began his elected Presidential term in 1965 with similar motives as he had upon succeeding into office. He wanted to carry forward the plans and programs of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was reticent to push southern congressmen even further after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He suspected that their support have been temporarily tapped out. Yet, civil rights activists continued onward in the cause of freedom despite the opposition. The Selma to Montgomery marches were led by Dr. Martin Luther King, the SNCC, the NAACP, and the DCVL. This led Johnson to initiate debate on a voting rights bill in February 1965.  Johnson gave a congressional speech—Dallek considers it his greatest—in which he said "rarely at anytime does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself…rarely are we met with the challenge… to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation."

In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill called the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in voting thus allowing millions of southern black Americans to vote for the first time. In accordance with the act, several states, "seven of the eleven southern states of the former confederacy" (Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia) were subjected to the procedure of preclearance in 1965 while Texas, then home to the largest African American population of any state, followed in 1975. The Senate passed the voting rights bill by a vote of 77–19 just after 2 1/2 months and won passage in the House on July, by 333–85. The results were significant. Between the years of 1968 and 1980, the number of southern black elected state and federal officeholders nearly doubled. The act also made a large difference in the numbers of black elected officials nationally. In 1965, a few hundred black office-holders mushroomed to 6,000 in 1989. This law was created by the blood of martyrs like Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo (a civil rights worker from Michigan), and James Reeb. After these murders, Lyndon Baines Johnson went on television to announce the arrest of four Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in her death. He angrily denounced the Klan as a "hooded society of bigots," and warned them to "return to a decent society before it's too late."

Johnson was the first President to arrest and prosecute members of the Klan since President Ulysses S. Grant did so about 93 years earlier. He turned to themes of Christian redemption to push for civil rights, thereby mobilizing support from churches North and South. At the Howard University commencement address on June 4, 1965, he said that both the government and the nation needed to help achieve goals, "To shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong—great wrong—to the children of God..." Some view these words as endorsing affirmative action. In 1967, Johnson nominated civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American justice of the Supreme Court. To head the new Department of Housing and Urban Development, Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver—the first African-American cabinet secretary in any U.S. Presidential administration.

In 1968 Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. The impetus for the law's passage came from the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement, the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil unrest across the country following King's death. On April 5, 1968, Johnson wrote a letter to the United States House of Representatives urging passage of the Fair Housing Act. With newly urgent attention from legislative director Joseph Califano and Democratic Speaker of the House John McCormack, the bill (which was previously stalled) passed the House by a wide margin on April 10.

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Immigration and Education

President Johnson supported immigration. He signed the Immigration Nationality Act of 1965. It was very sweeping and Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy including others looked on while he signed the bill into law. It was a great, necessary law that advanced the awe-inspiring diversity of the American populace. The law ended the overtly racist quotas from the 1920's.  The annual rate of inflow doubled between 1965 and 1970, and doubled again by 1990, with dramatic increases from Asia and Mexico. Scholars give Johnson little credit for the law, which was not one of his priorities; he had supported the McCarren-Walters Act of 1952 that was unpopular with reformers.

Johnson in real life used public education in order for him to escape poverty. He believed that education was a cure for ignorance and poverty. He also thought of education as vital component of the American dream, especially for minorities who endured poor facilities and tight fisted budgets from local taxes. That is why he made education a top priority of the Great Society agenda. He wanted to help poor children. After the 1964 landslide brought in many new liberal Congressmen. LBJ launched a legislative effort which took the name of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The bill sought to double federal spending on education from $4 billion to $8 billion. This was facilitated by the White House. It was passed by the House by a vote of 263 to 153 on March 26. Then, it remarkably passed without change in the Senate by 73 to 8 without going through the usual conference committee. This was a historic accomplishment by President Lyndon Johnson with the billion dollar bill passing as introduced just 87 days before.
Afterward, for the first time, large amounts of money from the federal government came into public school. ESEA was meant to help all public school districts. More money going to districts that had large proportions of students from poor families (which included big cities) was part of the plan. For the first time, private schools (most of them Catholic schools in the inner cities) received services like library funding. This made up of 12 percent of the ESEA budget. Local officials administered the federal funds. By 1977, it was reported that less than half of the funds were actually applied toward the education of children under the poverty line.

Dallek further reports that researchers cited by Hugh Davis Graham soon found that poverty had more to do with family background and neighborhood conditions than the quantity of education a child received. Early studies suggested initial improvements for poor children helped by ESEA reading and math programs, but later assessments indicated that benefits faded quickly and left pupils little better off than those not in the policies. Johnson's second major education program was the Higher Education Act of 1965, which focused on funding for lower income students, including grants, work-study money, and government loans. This policies helped millions of Americans back then and today in many positive ways. Although ESEA solidified Johnson's support among K-12 teachers' unions, neither the Higher Education Act nor the new endowments mollified the college professors and students growing increasingly uneasy with the war in Vietnam. In 1967, Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act to create educational television programs to supplement the broadcast networks. PBS came about as a result of this law. I watch PBS and its shows are certainly creative, very educational, and enlightening.

In 1965, Johnson also set up the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, to support academic subjects such as literature, history, and law, and arts such as music, painting, and sculpture (as the WPA once did).

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Healthcare and Other Progressive Policies

Lyndon Johnson's initial effort to improve health care was the creation of the HDCS or the Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Strokes. Combined, these diseases accounted for 71 percent of the nation's deaths in 1962. He wanted to enact recommendations of the commission. So, he asked Congress to funds to set up the Regional Medical Program (RMP) to create a network of hospitals with federally funded research and practice. Congress passed a significantly watered down version. As a back up position, in 1965, Johnson turned his focus to hospital insurance for the aged under Social Security. This program was heavily promoted by Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It was called Medicare. JFK, before he died, promoted such a universal health care service for the elderly.

President Kennedy gave a speech in Madison Square Garden in New York City to advocate a Medicare system for the senior citizen population. In order to reduce Republican opposition, Mills suggested that Medicare be fashioned in a three tiered system. It includes hospital insurance under Social Security, a voluntary insurance program for doctor visits and an expanded medical welfare program for the poor, known as Medicaid. The bill passed the House by a margin of 110 votes on April 8. The effort in the Senate was considerably more complicated; however, the Medicare bill passed Congress on July 28 after negotiation in a conference committee. Medicare now covers tens of millions of Americans. Johnson gave the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess after signing the Medicare bill at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Medicaid and Medicare have saved lives and helped millions of American lives.

In March of 1965, LBJ sent to Congress a transportation message. He wanted the creation of a new Transportation Department. It included the Commerce Department's Office of Transportation, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Federal Aviation Agency, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission. The bill passed the Senate after some negotiation over navigation projects; in the House, passage required negotiation over maritime interests and the bill was signed October 15, 1965.  On October 22, 1968, Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, one of the largest and farthest-reaching federal gun control laws in American history. Much of the motivation for this large expansion of federal gun regulations came as a response to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

During Johnson's administration, NASA used the Gemini manned space program. It developed the Saturn V rocket and its launch facility. It prepared to make its first manned Apollo program flights. On January 27, 1967, that nation was shocked by the following event. This was when the entire crew of Apollo 1 was killed in a cabin fire during a spacecraft test on the launch pad. It stopped Apollo for a while. Johnson didn't promote a Warren style commission. He accepted Administrator James E. Webb's request for NASA to do its own investigation. It hold itself accountable to Congress and the President. LBJ continued to strongly support Apollo through Congressional and press controversy. The program recovered. The first two manned missions, Apollo 7 and the first manned flight to the Moon, Apollo 8, were completed by the end of Johnson's term. He congratulated the Apollo 8 crew, saying, "You've taken ... all of us, all over the world, into a new era." On July 16, 1969, Johnson attended the launch of the first Moon landing mission Apollo 11, becoming the first former or incumbent US president to witness a rocket launch.

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A lot of public impatience with the Vietnam War existed in the spring of 1966. LBJ's approval rating during that time reached new lows of 41 percent. Sen. Richard Russell, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee said in June 1966 (which reflected the mood at the time) that to "get it over or get out." Johnson responded by saying to the press, "we are trying to provide the maximum deterrence that we can to communist aggression with a minimum of cost." Johnson believed that the intensified criticism of the war effort was a product of communist subversion and the press relations became strained. That's ludicrous. One of Johnson's major war policy opponent in Congress included the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee whose name was James William Fulbright. Johnson wanted more focused bombing campaign against petroleum, oil, and lubrication facilities in North Vietnam. He desired an accelerated victory. Humphrey, Rusk, and McNamara agreed with this goal. The bombing started in the end of June 1966. During July polling, Americans favored the bombing campaign by a 5 to 1 margin. Yet, in August 1966, a Defense Department study indicated that the bombing campaign had little impact on North Vietnam. By the fall of 1966, multiple sources began to report that progress was made against the North Vietnamese logistics and infrastructure. Johnson was urged to promote peace discussions. Peace initiatives already existed among protesters. English philosopher Bertrand Russell attacked Johnson's policy as "a barbaric aggressive war of conquest" and in June he initiated the International War Crimes Tribunal as a means to condemn the American effort.

The gap with Hanoi was an unbridgeable demand on both sides for a unilateral end to bombing and withdrawal of forces. In August, Johnson appointed Averell Harriman "Ambassador for Peace" to promote negotiations. Westmoreland and McNamara then recommended a concerted program to promote pacification; Johnson formally placed this effort under military control in October. By October 1966, LBJ wanted to promote the war effort still. He organized a meeting with allies in Manila. The meeting included South Vietnamese, Thais, South Koreans, Filipinos, Australians, and New Zealanders. The conference wanted to fight "communist aggression." It claimed to promote democracy and development in Vietnam and across Asia, but obviously the Vietnam War was about promoting capitalist economic interests and overt U.S. imperialism. 63 percent of Americans supported the Vietnam War in November of 1966. Dwight Eisenhower talked with LBJ on many issues too. By the end of 1966, the policies of Johnson didn't work to end the conflict. The air campaign didn't work. Johnson then agreed to McNamara's new recommendation to add 70,000 troops in 1967 to the 400,000 previously committed. While McNamara recommended no increase in the level of bombing, Johnson agreed with CIA recommendations to increase them. The increased bombing began despite initial secret talks being held in Saigon, Hanoi and Warsaw. While the bombings ended the talks, North Vietnamese intentions were not considered genuine by the Americans when the Vietnamese people for centuries were victims of invasion from Chinese and Western forces.

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Urban Rebellions

Urban rebellions in America existed in a high level from 1963 (as early as the 1963 rebellion in Cambridge, Maryland and Birmingham, Alabama) to 1971. It was a time of change. Many black and poor people were tired of police brutality, the slow pace of civil rights advancement, and poverty plus economic injustice. As the Kerner Commission accurately stated in 1967, the urban rebellions existed because of neglect, racism, and the oppression from an imperfect society. The Harlem rebellion of 1964 and in other places of that same year (like in Rochester, NY, Philadelphia, PA, etc.) made people aware of the seriousness of poverty and economic exploitation. The rebellion in Watts in 1965 caused 34 people to die and $35 million in property damaged. The public feared an expansion of violence to other cities. LBJ at first didn't understand the rebellions because of the civil and voting rights laws that he had passed. LBJ's social programs were less funded because of the Vietnam War.

There was the credibility gap in 1966 as described by the press. What Johnson was saying in press conferences was different than what was happening on the ground in Vietnam. This led the press to show less favorable coverage. By the end of 1966, the Democratic governor of Missouri, Warren E. Hearnes, warned that Johnson would lose the state by 100,000 votes, despite winning by a 500,000 margin in 1964. "Frustration over Vietnam; too much federal spending and... taxation; no great public support for your Great Society programs; and ... public disenchantment with the civil rights programs" had eroded the President's standing, the governor reported. The governor is wrong to disagree with federal spending and fair taxation. Also, civil rights must be promoted as well. People have the right to promote Great Society programs and federal spending despite opposition. On January of 1967, Johnson boasted that wages were the highest in history, unemployment was at a 13-year low, and corporate profits and farm incomes were greater than ever; a 4.5 percent jump in consumer prices was worrisome, as was the rise in interest rates.

Johnson asked for a temporary 6 percent surcharge in income taxes to cover the mounting deficit caused by increased spending. Johnson's approval ratings stayed below 50 percent. By January 1967, the number of his strong supporters had plunged to 16%, from 25 percent four months before. He ran about even with Republican George Romney in trial matchups that spring. Asked to explain why he was unpopular, Johnson responded, "I am a dominating personality, and when I get things done I don't always please all the people." Johnson also blamed the press, saying they showed "complete irresponsibility and lie and misstate facts and have no one to be answerable to." He also blamed "the preachers, liberals and professors" who had turned against him. In the congressional elections of 1966, the Republicans gained three seats in the Senate and 47 in the House, reinvigorating the conservative coalition and making it more difficult for Johnson to pass any additional Great Society legislation. However, in the end Congress passed almost 96 percent of the administration's Great Society programs, which Johnson then signed into law.

Newark burned in 1967, where six days of the rebellion in Newark, New Jersey left 26 dead, 1500 injured, and the inner city burned heavily. In Detroit on 1967, Governor George Romney sent in 7400 national guard troops to quell fire bombings, looting, and attacks on businesses and on police. Johnson finally sent in federal troops with tanks and machine guns. Detroit continued to burn for three more days until finally 43 were dead, 2250 were injured, 4000 were arrested. Property damage ranged into the hundreds of millions. The biggest wave of rebellions came in April 1968 in over a hundred cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Johnson called for even more billions to be spent in the cities and another federal civil rights law regarding housing, but this fell on deaf ears. Johnson's popularity plummeted as a massive, reactionary, and racist white political backlash took shape, reinforcing the sense Johnson had lost control of the streets of major cities as well as his party. LBJ passed crime control legislation called the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which was one ancestor of the Clinton Crime Bill. According to press secretary George Christian, Johnson was unsurprised by the rebellions, saying: "What did you expect? I don't know why we're so surprised. When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off."

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By January and February of 1967, Johnson continued to reject North Vietnamese calls for peace. Ho Chi Minh declared that the only solution was a unilateral withdrawal by the U.S. A Gallup poll taken in July 1967 showed that 52 percent of the country disapproving of the President's handling of the war and only 34 percent believed that progress had been made. Johnson was angry since he rejected progressive solutions to end the Vietnam War. LBJ made a statement to Robert F. Kennedy about the war. RFK would be a public critic of the Vietnam War and loomed as a challenger of the 1968 Presidential election. Johnson had just received several reports predicting military progress by the summer, and warned Robert Kennedy, "I'll destroy you and every one of your dove friends in six months", he shouted. "You'll be dead politically in six months." McNamara offered Johnson a way out of Vietnam in May. McNamara wanted the  administration could declare its objective in the war—South Vietnam's self-determination—was being achieved and upcoming September elections in South Vietnam would provide the chance for a coalition government. The United States could reasonably expect that country to then assume responsibility for the election outcome. Yet, Johnson was reluctant, in light of some optimistic reports, again of questionable reliability, which matched the negative assessments about the conflict and provided hope of improvement. The CIA was reporting wide food shortages in Hanoi and an unstable power grid, as well as military manpower reductions.

By the middle of 1967, almost 70,000 Americans had been killed or wounded in the war. By July 1967, Johnson sent McNamara, Wheeler, and other officials to meet with Westmoreland and reach agreement on plans for the immediate future. At that time the war was being commonly described by the press and others as a "stalemate." Westmoreland said such a description was pure fiction, and that "we are winning slowly but steadily and the pace can excel if we reinforce our successes." Westmoreland wanted more troops, Johnson agreed with an increase of 50,000 troops. The total troops increased to 525,000. By August of 1967, LBJ with the Joint Chiefs supported decided to expand the air campaign. He only exempted Hanoi, Haiphong, and a buffer zone with China from the target list. In September Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese premier Pham Van Dong appeared amenable to French mediation, so Johnson ceased bombing in a 10-mile zone around Hanoi; this was met with dissatisfaction. Johnson in a Texas speech agreed to halt all bombing if Ho Chi Minh would launch productive and meaningful discussions and if North Vietnam would not seek to take advantage of the halt; this was named the "San Antonio" formula. There was no response, but Johnson pursued the possibility of negotiations with such a bombing pause. The Vietnam war was in a stalemate. He convened the "Wise Men" for a new look at the war. These Wise Men included Dean Acheson, Gen. Omar Bradley, George Ball, Mac Bundy, Arthur Dean, Douglas Dillon, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert Murphy and Max Taylor. McNamara by this time wanted a cap of 525,000 troops and he wanted the bombing to be halted. He was overruled. Johnson disagreed with McNamara and McNamara soon resigned from the administration. With the exception of George Ball, the "Wise Men' agreed that the administration should continue forward. Johnson believed that Hanoi would await the 1968 U.S. election results before deciding to negotiate.

LBJ supported Israel during the Six Day War. In a 1993 interview for the Johnson Presidential Library oral history archives, Johnson's Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that a carrier battle group, the U.S. 6th Fleet, sent on a training exercise toward Gibraltar was re-positioned back towards the eastern Mediterranean to be able to assist Israel during the Six-Day War of June 1967. Given the rapid Israeli advances following their strike on Egypt, the administration "thought the situation was so tense in Israel that perhaps the Syrians, fearing Israel would attack them, or the Soviets supporting the Syrians might wish to redress the balance of power and might attack Israel". The Soviets learned of this course correction and regarded it as an offensive move. In a hotline message from Moscow, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin said, "If you want war you're going to get war."

The Soviet Union supported its Arabic allies. In May 1967, the Soviets started a surge deployment of their naval forces into the East Mediterranean. Early in the crisis they began to shadow the US and British carriers with destroyers and intelligence collecting vessels. The Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean was sufficiently strong to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy. In a 1983 interview with The Boston Globe, McNamara claimed that "We d__near had war." He said Kosygin was angry that "we had turned around a carrier in the Mediterranean." Israel also destroyed the USS Liberty which LBJ downplayed when many people died from that incident. Also, Johnson allowed the FBI to illegally wiretap Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was authorized by the Kennedy administration under Attorney General Robert Kennedy. LBJ said that King was a "hypocritical preacher" because of the extramarital affairs. Johnson authorized the tapping of phone conversations of other people like Vietnamese friends of a Nixon associate. Dr. King publicly said that he will not be intimidated by the FBI's evil tactics. Dr. King was a brave man.

On June 23, 1967, Lyndon Baines Johnson came into Los Angeles. He wanted to participate in a Democratic fundraiser. At that location, thousands of anti-war protesters tried to march past the hotel where he was speaking. A coalition of peace protesters led the anti-war march. Also, a small group of Progressive Labor Party and SDS protesters placed themselves at the head of the march. They reached the hotel and staged a sit down. There were efforts made by march monitors to keep the main body of the marchers moving. They were only partially successful. Hundreds of LAPD officers were at the hotel. The march slowed down. The LAPD ordered the crowd to disperse. The Riot Act was read and 51 protesters were arrested. This was one of the first massive anti-war protests in the United States and the first major one in Los Angeles. There was a clash with riot police. This set a pattern for future massive protests. The event was large. The violence caused Johnson to issue no further public speeches  in venues outside military bases. There was a more public protests against the war.  On October of 1967, LBJ engaged the FBI and the CIA to investigate, monitor, and undermine anti-war activists. He supported the CIA's Operation Chaos to domestically monitor anti-war people, which is illegal. The CIA is forbidden from monitoring American citizens in American soil for the purpose of surveillance. In mid-October 1967 there was a demonstration of 100,000 at the Pentagon; Johnson and Rusk were convinced that foreign communist sources were behind the demonstration, which was refuted by CIA findings.

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Casualties increased in Vietnam in 1968. Success for America was far away and Johnson's popularity radically declined. College students and others protested, burn draft cards, and some chanted, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" Johnson traveled and saw protests. He was not allowed by the Secret Service to attend the 1968 Democratic National Convention. That was when thousands of hippies, yippies, Black Panthers, and other opponents of Johnson's policies converged to protest. These opponents of the war in Vietnam and the opponents of the policies of the ghettoes were very overt in their views. Thus by 1968, the public was polarized, with the "hawks" rejecting Johnson's refusal to continue the war indefinitely, and the "doves" rejecting his current war policies. Support for Johnson's middle position continued to shrink until he finally rejected containment and sought a peace settlement. By late summer, he realized that Nixon was closer to his position than Humphrey. He continued to support Humphrey publicly in the election, and personally despised Nixon. One of Johnson's well known quotes was "the Democratic party at its worst, is still better than the Republican party at its best."

Today is the 50th year anniversary of the Tet Offensive. This was when Vietnamese forces attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon and other major cities throughout Vietnam starting in January 30, 1968. Many people died. American forces were taken by surprise. Back then, many American people thought the the U.S. had a near victory in the Vietnam War. After the Tet Offensive, more people realized that the war was a stalemate. LBJ knew of this and hid a lot of this information from the public for fear of being labeled as someone losing the war. The Tet Offensive established a new era of the war and ultimately the anti-war movement grew in power. Public opinion turned against the war. The American forces won the Tet Offensive which included the massive bombing of the city of Hue. After Tet, the Vietnam War changed forever and LBJ soon would not run for President again. By this time, Dr. King was in opposition to the war. I was not born during that time, but my parents were alive back then. 1968 was a year of massive change and one of the most revolutionary years in human history. Ironically, Walter Cronkite of CBS news, voted the nation's "most trusted person" in February expressed on the air that the conflict was deadlocked and that additional fighting would change nothing. Johnson reacted, saying  "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

Indeed, demoralization about the war was everywhere; 26% then approved of Johnson's handling of Vietnam; 63% disapproved. Johnson agreed to increase the troop level by 22,000, despite a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs for ten times that number. By March 1968 Johnson was secretly desperate for an honorable way out of the war. Clark Clifford, the new Defense Secretary, described the war as "a loser" and proposed to "cut losses and get out." On March 31, 1968, Lyndon Johnson spoke to the nation and gave his speech entitled, "Steps to Limit the War in Vietnam." He then said that he would desire an immediate unilateral halt to the bombing of North Vietnam. He announced his intention to seek out peace talks anywhere at any time. At the close of his speech he also announced, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." By March, LBJ restricted future bombing with the result that 90 percent of North Vietnam's population and 75 percent of its territory was off limits to bombing. On April 1968, he opened peace talks and after extensive negotiations over the site, Paris was agreed to and talks began in May.

When the talks failed to yield any results the decision was made to resort to private discussions in Paris. Two months later it was apparent that private discussions proved to be no more productive. Despite recommendations in August from Harriman, Vance, Clifford and Bundy to halt bombing as an incentive for Hanoi to seriously engage in substantive peace talks, Johnson refused. In October 1968 was when the parties came close to an agreement on a bombing halt, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon intervened with the South Vietnamese, and made promises of better terms, so as to delay a settlement on the issue until after the election. LBJ accused Nixon of treason for during this. After the election, Johnson's primary focus on Vietnam was to get Saigon to join the Paris peace talks. Ironically, only after Nixon added his urging did they do so. Even then they argued about procedural matters until after Nixon took office.

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The 1968 Presidential Election

The 1968 election was one of the most controversial and contentious elections in America. America was the most divided as it has ever been since the American Civil War. Issues of race, class, the Vietnam War, space, hippies, women's rights, housing, the economy, the environment, law and order (which is code for suppressing the rights of the dissenters and promoting the prison industrial complex), and other important issues were part of this election year. By 1968, there was the rise of the hippie counterculture, New Left activism, and Black Power movements. Social and cultural clashes exist among classes, generations, and races. Lyndon Johnson could run for re-election since he served less than 24 months of President Kennedy's term (as found in the 22nd Amendment). Early on, no prominent Democratic candidates wanted to challenge him since he was a sitting U.S. President. This changed by Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1967. McCarthy ran as an anti-war candidate and he was from Minnesota. He was the candidate in the New Hampshire primary. He or McCarthy wanted to pressure the Democrats to oppose the Vietnam War.

By late 1967, over 500,000 American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam. Draftees made up 42 percent of the military in Vietnam, but suffered 58% of the casualties as nearly 1000 Americans a month were killed and many more were injured. By March 12, 1968, McCarthy won 42 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote to Johnson's 49 percent. That was huge for a challenger. LBJ was concerned. Later on March 16, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy of New York entered the race.  Internal polling by Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin, the next state to hold a primary election, showed the President trailing badly. Johnson did not leave the White House to campaign. During March 1968, Johnson couldn't control the Democratic Party. It was divided. There were Johnson and Humphrey, labor union, local party bosses, students and intellectuals (who were against the war), Catholics, Latinx, and African Americans (who favored Robert Kennedy heavily). There were also segregationist white southerners who supported George C. Wallace and the American Independent Party. Vietnam divided the party. Johnson couldn't find a way to unite the party since he was stubborn to resist a change in policy. LBJ also had failing health. He was fearful of not living through another 4 year term.

In 1967, he secretly commissioned an actuarial study that predicted he would die at 64. Therefore, at the end of a speech on March 31, 1968, he shocked the nation when he announced he would not run for re-election by concluding with the line: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." The next day, his approval ratings increased from 36% to 49%. Johnson refusing to run shocked the political world. Some speculated on why Johnson decided to not run for President anymore.

Shesol says Johnson wanted out of the White House but also wanted vindication; when the indicators turned negative he decided to leave. Gould says that Johnson had neglected the party, was hurting it by his Vietnam policies, and underestimated McCarthy's strength until the very last minute, when it was too late for Johnson to recover. Woods said Johnson realized he needed to leave in order for the nation to heal. Dallek says that Johnson had no further domestic goals, and realized that his personality had eroded his popularity. His health was not good, and he was preoccupied with the Kennedy campaign; his wife was pressing for his retirement and his base of support continued to shrink. Ultimately, the crisis of the Vietnam War and the Democratic Party in crisis influenced his decision to drop out of the race. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It was a very sad time in America. Cities burned in rebellion and people wondered about the future in terms of civil rights and justice. After Robert Kennedy's assassination, LBJ rallied the party bosses and unions to supported Hubert Humprhey at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The problems with the convention was huge. In Chicago (where it was location), the police brutally assaulted protesters and even innocent bypassers. Humphrey was great on civil rights, but very much pro-Johnson on foreign policy.

Some people wanted Johnson to support Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon won the Republican nomination and he used the racist Southern Strategy as a means to play on peoples' fears in the South in order for him to gain conservative Southern white voters (who traditionally voted Democratic). In what was termed the October surprise, Johnson announced to the nation on October 31, 1968, that he had ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam", effective November 1, should the Hanoi Government be willing to negotiate and citing progress with the Paris peace talks. In the end, Democrats did not fully unite behind Humphrey, enabling Republican candidate Richard Nixon to win the election. The election was very close among Humphrey (whose running mate was Edmund Muskie of Maine) and Nixon (whose running mate was Spiro Agnew of Maryland). Republicans would go on to win multiple future Presidential elections. Humphrey almost won, but he lost.

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Later Life

Lyndon Baines Johnson's last day of office was on January 20, 1969. He saw Richard Nixon sworn into office. He decided to smoke despite his daughter's protests, because he felt that he lived his life and it was his turn now to express himself. Later, he came to his ranch in Stonewall, Texas. He literally smoke himself to death. He worked with his former aide and speechwriter Harry J. Middleton to draft his first book called, "The Choices We face." They worked together on his memoirs entitled, "The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969." It was published in 1971. In 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. He donated his Texas ranch in his will to the public to form the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, with the provision that the ranch "remain a working ranch and not become a sterile relic of the past." Johnson praised Nixon in foreign policy. Yet, he was worried that Nixon was being pressured into removing U.S. forces too soon from South Vietnam before the South Vietnamese were really able to defend themslves. He said that,  "If the South falls to the Communists, we can have a serious backlash here at home." LBJ believed in anti-Communist rhetoric to the very end.

During the 1972 Presidential election, LBJ endorsed Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern, a senator from South Dakota, although McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies. The McGovern nomination and presidential platform dismayed him or Johnson. Nixon could be defeated "if only the Democrats don't go too far left," he had insisted. Johnson had felt Edmund Muskie would be more likely to defeat Nixon; however, he declined an invitation to try to stop McGovern receiving the nomination as he felt his unpopularity within the Democratic party was such that anything he said was more likely to help McGovern. Johnson's protégé John Connally had served as President Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury and then stepped down to head "Democrats for Nixon", a group funded by Republicans. It was the first time that Connally and Johnson were on opposite sides of a general election campaign.

By March of 1970, LBJ experienced an attack of angina. He was taken to Brooke Army General Hospital on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He was urged to lose a lot of weight. He had grown to about 235 pounds. He also started smoking after nearly 15 years without having done so. This continued to advance more of his health problems. During next summer, he had chest pains. He started to promote a crash water diet. He shed 15 pounds in less than a month. On April 1972, Johnson fell victim to a second heart attack while visiting his daughter, Lynda, in Charlottesville, Virginia. "I'm hurting real bad," he confided to friends. The chest pains hit him nearly every afternoon—a series of sharp, jolting pains that left him scared and breathless. A portable oxygen tank stood next to his bed, and he periodically interrupted what he was doing to lie down and don the mask to gulp air. He continued to smoke heavily, and, although placed on a low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet, kept to it only in fits and starts.

Meanwhile, he began experiencing severe abdominal pains. Doctors diagnosed this problem through X-rays as diverticulosis—pouches of tissue forming on the intestine. His condition rapidly worsened and surgery was recommended, so Johnson flew to Houston to consult with heart specialist Dr. Michael DeBakey. DeBakey discovered that even though two of the former President's coronary arteries were critically damaged, the overall condition of his heart was so poor that even attempting a bypass surgery would likely result in fatal complications.

His heart condition was now diagnosed as terminal. So, he returned home to his ranch outside of San Antonio. At 3:39 pm. Central Time on January 22, 1973, Johnson suffered a massive heart attack. After he had placed a call to the Secret Service agents on the ranch, they rushed to the former President's bedroom. They found Johnson still holding the telephone receiver in his hand. He was unconscious and wasn't breathing. Johnson was airlifted in one of his own airplanes to San Antonio. He was taken to Booke Army General hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the facility by cardiologist and Army colonel Dr. Georga McGranahan. He was 64 years old.

Shortly after the death of Johnson, his press secretary Tom Johnson (no relation) telephoned Walter Cronkite at CBS. Cronkite was live on the air with the CBS Evening News at the time. There was a report on Vietnam and it was cut abruptly while Cronkite was still on the line, so he could break the news. Johnson's death came two days after Richard Nixon's second inauguration. This was after Nixon's landslide victory in the 1972 election. His death meant that for the first time since 1933, when Calvin Coolidge died during Herbert Hoover's final months in office, that there were no former Presidents still living; Johnson had been the only living ex-President since December 26, 1972, following the death of Harry S. Truman.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was honored with a state funeral. Texas Congressman J. J. Pickle and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk eulogized him at the Capitol. The final funeral services took place at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. as this was the placed where he often worshiped as President. The service was presided over by President Richard Nixon and attended by foreign dignitaries. These foreign dignitaries were led by former Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Satō, who served as Japanese prime minister during Johnson's presidency. Eulogies were given by the Rev. Dr. George Davis, the church's pastor, and W. Marvin Watson, former postmaster general. Nixon did not speak, though he attended, as is customary for presidents during state funerals, but the eulogists turned to him and lauded him for his tributes, as Rusk did the day before, as Nixon mentioned Johnson's death in a speech he gave the day after Johnson died, announcing the peace agreement to end the Vietnam War.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was buried in his family cemetery (which, although it is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, Texas, is still privately owned by the Johnson family). The Johnson family doesn't want the public to enter the cemetery. It is also located a few yards from the house in which he was born. Eulogies were given by former Texas governor John Connally and the Rev. Billy Graham, the minister who officiated at the burial rites. Billy Graham recently passed away during this year of 2018. The state funeral, the last for a president until Ronald Reagan's in 2004, was part of an unexpectedly busy week in Washington, as the Military District of Washington (MDW) dealt with its second major task in less than a week, beginning with Nixon's second inauguration. The inauguration affected the state funeral in various ways, because Johnson died only two days after the inauguration. The MDW and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee canceled the remainder of the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration, to allow for a full state funeral, and many of the military men who participated in the inauguration took part in the funeral. It also meant Johnson's casket traveled the entire length of the Capitol, entering through the Senate wing when taken into the rotunda to lie in state and exiting through the House wing steps due to inauguration construction on the East Front steps. So, we know the truth about his life. We are inspired to carry onward with the social justice credo. Now, it is time to recall his legacy.


Looking at the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson is witnessing a life filled with triumphs and controversies. He fought his way into the Presidency. He wasn't born rich. He was born in a Texas community and taught the poor and Mexican children about many educational subjects. He traveled the world and participated in the great war of World War II. Later, he allied with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was in the Senate of the United States Congress. He was even the Senate Majority leader, which is one of the most powerful positions in Congress. He ran for President in 1960 and lost to John F. Kennedy. He was his Vice President until his assassination on November 22, 1963. Later, he was the President. His helped to pass some of the most progressive legislation in human history like the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and other laws dealing with the environment, the urban community, the rural community, etc. His War on Poverty programs cut poverty in half from 1960 to 1970. His major weakness was foreign policy. The reason was that he acted too militarily aggressive in the Vietnam War (which resulted in destruction, war crimes, and other evils).

He acted so reckless, that the war evolved into a total stalemate and he refused to promote a real negotiated settlement during his Presidency. He believed in the myth that Communists collectively were seeking to take over the Earth and form a global, brutal empire. He also was more reactionary than JFK on foreign policy matters in general by supporting many far right rulers from Greece to the Dominican Republic. His popularity was low massively by 1967 and 1968. He refused to run for re-election in 1968 and saw a Nixon victory. He died in Texas as a man who done so much and achieved many mistakes along the way. His legacy is diverse and it signified the imperfections plus limitations of capitalism and the greatness of the social justice credo. LBJ changed the world and his life is definitely filled with multifaceted complexities. LBJ would also eloquently and legitimate defend immigrant rights too. He could be vulgar and ruthless and he could use commonsense to logically advance civil plus voting rights. Therefore, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was a man whose influence stretches long after the 1960's. That is why in our time, we will continue to advocate for racial justice, economic justice, health care rights, housing rights, investments in infrastructure, environmental protections, an end to poverty, and human liberty.

By Timothy

Spring 2018 Part 4

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President Lyndon Baines Johnson (After 110 Years After his Birth)

Lyndon Baines Johnson was one of the most historic, controversial, and complicated Presidents in history. He had a dual legacy as President. He enriched the lives of millions of Americans with his powerful, progressive Great Society social programs (along with laws promoting civil rights and voting rights, which is very great). Yet, he also ended his Presidency with his reckless, wrong policies involving not only the Vietnam War but imperialism in other nations too (as advanced by many generals back then). Therefore, LBJ made incorrect, imperialist foreign policy decisions in other areas in general as he was a Cold Warrior and a radical anti-Communist. LBJ was born in Texas and he was in the military for a time. He politically allied with Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a young man. LBJ believed in the precepts of the New Deal, which transformed America forever. Later, he taught poor Mexican children in Texas as a schoolteacher and became a Congressman. Gaining seniority via his efforts enabled him to gain much political power. He is known for being vulgar, sensitive, and crass. During the 1960 Presidential primary, he ran for President. He was shocked that the younger John F. Kennedy defeated him. Then, JFK decided to want him to be his running mate. He agreed.

During the 1960 Presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon for the Presidency. Lyndon Baines Johnson was originally the Vice President. LBJ followed Kennedy’s lead, but he disagreed with Kennedy’s policies in Vietnam. He wanted JFK to be more aggressive in terms of military action. After Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, LBJ was President. Many of the laws that Johnson signed or passed came from the previous Kennedy Administration. He won the 1964 election by his own merit against Barry Goldwater. Johnson talked with Dr. King regularly on civil rights and voting rights. LBJ worked with Texas liberal Democrat Ralph Yarborough and other progressive leaders to pass civil rights and voting rights legislation. Johnson knew that the Jim Crow South was ending and he had to bring folks (who disagreed with him) to realize that a change was necessary.

He signed both the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He promoted immigration legislation in 1965. He accelerated military action in the Vietnam War which caused his Presidency to disintegrate, because his policies never caused a real resolution (it only extended the destructiveness of the war). Fulbright and other liberal Congress people opposed him on Vietnam. Rebellions existed all across America from Watts to Detroit (and his cabinet said that he originally failed to understand the complex origin of the rebellions which dealt with hurt, neglect, racial oppression, police brutality, and economic injustice). His Great Society programs were stripped of funding to fund the war in Vietnam by the late 1960’s (this reality grew the anti-war movement). As a product of this, inflation grew in America while the economies of Japan and Western Europe increased in power. Robert F. Kennedy (his nemesis. LBJ and RFK didn't get along with each other at all) ran for President on March 1968. In terms of the environment, he was the most progressive President (on the environmental issue) of the 20th century. Under disaster after disaster, the capitalist President LBJ decided not to run for President again during 1968 after the Tet Offensive. He lived to see some of the last, major social reforms of the post-World War II era. LBJ made a combination of great policies and great mistakes. His Presidency ended in 1969. Now, it’s time to reflect on his life and legacy as President of the United States of America.

Early Life

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908 near Stonewall, Texas. He was born in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River. He was the oldest of five children. His parents were Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. and Rebekah Baines. His only brother was Sam Houston Johnson. His three sisters were Rebekah, Josefa, and Lucia. The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas was named after LBJ’s cousin, James Polk Johnson. James’ ancestors moved west from Georgia. LBJ had English, German, and Ulster Scots ancestry. His patrilineal descent goes back to John Johnson, who was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1590. He was maternally descended from pioneer Baptist clergyman George Washington Baines. Baines pastored eight churches in Texas as well in Arkansas and Louisiana. Baines was the grandfather of Johnson’s mother, who was also the president of Baylor University during the U.S. Civil War. Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr. was LBJ’s grandfather. Samuel was raised Baptist and was a Christian Church member (Disciples of Christ) for a time. In his later years, Samuel became a Christadelphian. Johnson’s father also was part of the Christadelphian Church at the end of his life. LBJ’s positive attitude towards Jewish people was inspired by his religious beliefs among his family (especially by his grandfather). Johnson's favorite Bible verse came from the King James Version of Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

When LBJ was in school, he was talkative and awkward as a youth. He was elected president of his 11th grade class. By 1924, he graduated from Johnson City High School. In that school, he participated in public speaking, debate, and baseball. He graduated at the age of 15, so he was the youngest member of his class. His parents wanted him to attend college, so he did. He enrolled at the Southwest Texas State Teachers College (SWTSTC) in the summer of 1924, where students from unaccredited high schools could take the 12th-grade courses needed for admission to college. He left the school just weeks after his arrival, and decided to move to Southern California. He worked at his cousin's legal practice and in various odd jobs before returning to Texas, where he worked as a day laborer.

By 1926, Johnson enrolled at SWTSTC (now Texas State University). He worked his way around school. He worked in debate and campus politics. He edited the school newspaper called, “The College Star.” During his college years, he refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. His paused his studies (from 1928-1929) to teach Mexican- American children at the segregated Welhasusen School in Cotulla, Texas. That was 90 miles south of San Antonio in La Salle County. The job allowed him to save money, so he could complete his education. He graduated by 1930. He briefly taught at Pearsall High School before taking a position as a teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston. He reminisced about his time educating Mexican Americans when he spoke in San Marcos in 1965 (in after signing the Higher Education Act of 1965).

He entered into politics early on. Richard M. Kleberg won a 1931 special election to represent Texas in the United States House. Later, he appointed Johnson as his legislative secretary. Recommendations from his father and that of State Senator Welly Hopkins (who LBJ campaigned for in 1930) caused LBJ to get the position. Kleberg had little interest in performing day to day duties as a Congressman. He delegated those duties to Johnson. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the 1932 Presidential election, Johnson became as staunch supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal. LBJ shook hands with FDR in 1937. Johnson was elected speaker of the “Little Congress” of Congressional aides where he cultivated Congressmen, newspapermen, and lobbyists. Johnson’s friends soon included aides to President Roosevelt as well as fellow Texans like Vice President John Nance Garner and Congressman Sam Rayburn.

Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor (known as “Lady Bird” of Karnack, Texas) on November 17, 1934. This was after he attended Georgetown University Law Center for many months. The wedding was officiated by Rev. Arthur R. McKinstry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. They had two daughters, Lynda Bird, born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Johnson gave his children names with the LBJ initials; his dog was Little Beagle Johnson. His was the LBJ Ranch; his initials were on his cufflinks, ashtrays, and clothes. In 1935, he was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration, which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people. He resigned two years later to run for Congress. Johnson, a notoriously tough boss throughout his career, often demanded long workdays and work on weekends. He was described by friends, fellow politicians, and historians as motivated by an exceptional lust for power and control. As Johnson's biographer Robert Caro observes, "Johnson's ambition was uncommon—in the degree to which it was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, of beliefs.”


By 1937, Johnson successfully campaigned in a special election for Texas’s 10th congressional district. This district involved Austin and the surrounding hill country. He ran on a New Deal platform. He was aided by his wife effectively. He served in the House from April 10, 1937 to January 3, 1949. President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed him as an ally. He was a conduit for information, especially when it relates to Texas internal politics. He worked with LBJ on the machinations of Vice President John Nance Garner and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. Johnson was soon appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee. He worked involving rural electrification and other improvements in his district. LBJ steered the projects towards contractors. He personally knew contractors like the Brown Brothers, Herman and George. They would finance much of LBJ’s future political career. He ran for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in a special election in 1941. His main opponent was the sitting Governor of Texas. He was the businessman and radio personality W. Lee O’Daniel. Johnson narrowly lost the Democratic primary, which was tantamount to the election. O’Daniel received 175,590 votes (30.49%), and Johnson 174,279 votes (30.26%). Lyndon Baines Johnson was in active military duty from 1941 to 1942. On June 21, 1940, he was appointed a Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Naval Reserve. He served as a U.S. Congressman during this time. He was called to active duty three days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941. He was ordered to report to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in D.C. for instruction and training.

After he was trained, LBJ asked Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal for a combat assignment. He was sent instead to inspect the shipyard facilities in Texas and on the West Coast. By the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt needed his own reports on what conditions were like in the Southwest Pacific. FDR wanted information from up the military command. He wanted a trusted political aide to send him the information. Forrestal suggested Johnson to do it. So, FDR assigned Johnson to a three man survey team of the Southwest Pacific. Johnson reported to General Douglas MacArthur in Australia. He had 2 U.S. Army officers who went to the 22nd Bomb Group base. This was assigned the high risk mission of bombing the Japanese airbase at Lae in New Guinea. Johnson’s roommate was an army second lieutenant who was a B-17 bomber pilot. On June 9, 1942, he volunteered as an observer for an air strike mission on New Guinea by eleven B-26 bombers that included his roommate in another plane. While on the mission, his roommate and his crew’s B-26 bomber was shot down with none of the eight men surviving the crash into the water. There are different reports on what happened to the B-26 bomber carrying Johnson during the mission.

Robert Caro is Johnson’s biographer. He accepts Johnson’s account. He said that it’s supported by testimony from the aircrew. Also, the aircraft was attacked, disabling one engine, and it turned back before reaching its objective, though remaining under heavy fire. Others claim that it turned back because of generator trouble before reaching the objective and before encountering enemy aircraft and never came under fire. This is said to be supported by official flight records. Other airplanes that continued to the target came under fire near the target at about the same time that Johnson's plane was recorded as having landed back at the original airbase. MacArthur recommended Johnson for the Silver Star for gallantry in action. After it was approved by the army, he personally presented the medal to Johnson, with a citation. Johnson used a camera as an observer. He reported to Roosevelt and to the Navy leaders. He said that the conditions were deplorable and unacceptable. He argued that the South West Pacific needed a higher priority and a larger share of war supplies immediately. Warplanes were sent.

He wanted Forrestal to know that the Pacific Fleet needed a critical 6,800 additional experienced men. Johnson prepared a 12-point program to upgrade the effort in the region. He wanted “greater cooperation and coordination within the various commands and between the different war theaters." Congress responded by making Johnson chairman of a high-powered subcommittee of the Naval Affairs Committee, with a mission similar to that of the Truman Committee in the Senate. He probed the peacetime "business as usual" inefficiencies that permeated the naval war and demanded that admirals shape up and get the job done. Johnson went too far when he proposed a bill that would crack down on the draft exemptions of shipyard workers if they were absent from work too often; organized labor blocked the bill and denounced him. Johnson's biographer, Robert Dallek concludes, "The mission was a temporary exposure to danger calculated to satisfy Johnson's personal and political wishes, but it also represented a genuine effort on his part, however misplaced, to improve the lot of America's fighting men." In addition to the Silver Star, Johnson received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was released from active duty on July 17, 1942 and remained in the Navy Reserve, later promoted to commander on October 19, 1949 (effective June 2, 1948). He resigned from the Navy Reserve effective January 18, 1964.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was in the U.S. Senate from 1949 to 1961. During the 1948 elections, Johnson ran for the Senate. He won in a highly controversial result in a three way Democratic Party primary. Johnson faced a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson and George Peddy, who was a former state representative of District 8 in Shelby County. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter named “The Johnson City Windmill.” He raised money to flood the state with campaign circulars. He won other conservatives by voting for the Taft-Hartley act (which curbed union power) as well as him criticizing unions. Stevenson came in first, but he lacked a majority. Therefore, a runoff was held. Johnson campaigned harder while Stevenson’s efforts slumped. The runoff took about a week. It was handled by the Democratic State Central Committee, because it was a party primary. Johnson announced that he was the winner by 87 votes out of 988,295 cast. The Committee voted to certify Johnson's nomination by a majority of one (29–28), with the last vote cast on Johnson's behalf by Temple, Texas, publisher Frank W. Mayborn.

There were many allegations of voter fraud; one writer alleges that Johnson's campaign manager, future Texas governor John B. Connally, was connected with 202 ballots in Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County where the names had curiously been listed in alphabetical order with the same pen and handwriting, just at the close of polling. Some of these voters insisted that they had not voted that day. Robert Caro argued in his 1989 book that Johnson had thus stolen the election in Jim Wells County, and that 10,000 ballots were also rigged in Bexar County alone. Election judge Luis Salas said in 1977 that he had certified 202 fraudulent ballots for Johnson. The state Democratic convention upheld Johnson. Stevenson went to court, but Johnson prevailed—with timely help from his friend Abe Fortas. He soundly defeated Republican Jack Porter in the general election in November and went to Washington, permanently dubbed "Landslide Lyndon." Johnson, dismissive of his critics, happily adopted the nickname. Since the beginning of his federal political career, controversy abounds in that part of his life.

Soon, LBJ was a freshman Senator. He made many courtships with older senators like Senator Richard Russell, who was Democrat from Georgia. Russell was part of the conservative coalition and was probably the most powerful man in the Senate during that time. He or LBJ wanted to gain Russell’s favor like he courted Sam Rayburn and gained his crucial support in the House. He was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Later in 1950, he helped create the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. Johnson became its chairman and conducted investigations of defense costs and efficiency. These investigations revealed old investigations and demanded actions that were already being taken in part by the Truman Administration, although it can be said that the committee's investigations reinforced the need for changes. Johnson gained headlines and national attention through his handling of the press, the efficiency with which his committee issued new reports, and the fact that he ensured that every report was endorsed unanimously by the committee. Johnson used his political influence in the Senate to receive broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission in his wife's name. After the 1950 general elections, Johnson was chosen as Senate Majority Whip in 1951 under the new Majority Leader, Ernest McFarland of Arizona, and served from 1951 to 1953.

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After the 1952 general election, Republicans won a majority in both the House and the Senate. Many defeated Democrats including McFarland, who lost to the newcomer Barry Goldwater. In January of 1953, Johnson was chosen by Democrats to be the minority leader. He was the most junior Senator ever elected to this position. One of his first actions was to eliminate the seniority system in making appointments to committees while retaining it for chairmanships. LBJ was re-elected to the Senate after the 1954 election. By this time, Democrats won the majority of the Senate. Johnson was now the majority leader.  Former majority leader William Knowland became minority leader. Johnson's duties were to schedule legislation and help pass measures favored by the Democrats. Johnson, Rayburn and President Dwight D. Eisenhower worked well together in passing Eisenhower's domestic and foreign agenda. During the Suez Crisis, Johnson tried to prevent the U.S. government from criticizing the Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula. Johnson was upset at the Soviets flying its first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1 in space. Back then, many had a paranoia that the Soviets wanted to take over the whole world and implement a brutal, totalitarian empire. Of course, that assumption is false. This reality caused the passage of the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the civilian space agency of NASA.

Historians Caro and Dallek consider Lyndon Johnson the most effective Senate majority leader in history. He was unusually proficient at gathering information. One biographer suggests he was "the greatest intelligence gatherer Washington has ever known", discovering exactly where every Senator stood on issues, his philosophy and prejudices, his strengths and weaknesses and what it took to get his vote. Robert Baker claimed that Johnson would occasionally send senators on NATO trips in order to avoid their dissenting votes. Central to Johnson's control was "The Treatment." The Treatment was about LBJ using persuasion by intimidation, talks, and movements of his body in order for him to convince congressional people to vote his way. A 60-cigarette-per-day smoker, Johnson suffered a near-fatal heart attack on July 2, 1955. He abruptly gave up smoking as a result, with only a couple of exceptions, and did not resume the habit until he left the White House on January 20, 1969. The 1960 Presidential election in America changed the world forever.

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The 1960 Presidential Election

LBJ’s success in the Senate made him a potential Democratic presidential candidate. He was praised by the Texas delegation at the Party’s national convention in 1956 and appeared to be in a position to run for the 1960 nomination. Jim Rowe urged Johnson to run a campaign in early 1959. Yet, Johnson thought it better to wait. He thought that John Kennedy’s efforts would create a division in the ranks which could then be exploited. Rowe finally joined the Humphrey campaign in frustration, another move which Johnson thought played into his own strategy. Johnson made a late entry in the campaign by July of 1960. This was about his reluctance to leave Washington. Back during that time, his rival Kennedy campaign had fought to secure a substantial early advantage among Democratic state party officials. Johnson underestimated Kennedy’s endearing qualities of charm and intelligence, as compared to his own reputation as the more crude and wheeling dealing “Landslide Lyndon.”  Caro suggested that Johnson’s hesitancy to run was about his fear of failure.  Johnson criticized Kennedy because of his youth, poor health, and failure to take a position involving Joseph McCarthy. He formed a “Stop Kennedy” collation with Adlai Stevenson, Stuart Symington, and Hubert Humphrey, but it proved a failure.

Johnson received 409 votes on the only ballot at the Democratic convention to Kennedy's 806, and so the convention nominated Kennedy. Tip O'Neill was a representative from Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts at that time, and he recalled that Johnson approached him at the convention and said, "Tip, I know you have to support Kennedy at the start, but I'd like to have you with me on the second ballot." O'Neill replied, "Senator, there's not going to be any second ballot."

Labor leaders were unanimous in their opposition to Johnson. According to Kennedy’s Special Counsel Myer Feldman and to Kennedy himself, it is impossible to reconstruct the precise manner in which Johnson’s vice-presidential nomination ultimately took place. Kennedy did realize that he could not be elected without support of traditional Southern Democrats, most of whom had backed Johnson. Nevertheless, labor leaders were unanimous in their opposition to Johnson. After much back and forth with party leaders and others on the matter, Kennedy did offer Johnson the vice-presidential nomination at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel at 10:15 am on July 14. The morning after he was nominated and Johnson accepted. From that point to the actual nomination that evening, the facts are in dispute in many respects. Convention chairman Le Roy Collins’ declaration of a two-thirds majority in favor by voice is even disputed. Seymour Hersh said that Robert F. Kennedy hated Johnson for his personal attacks on the Kennedy family. Hersh said that his brother offered the position to Johnson out of just courtesy, expecting him to decline.  Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. concurred with Robert Kennedy's version of events, and put forth that John Kennedy would have preferred Stuart Symington as his running-mate, alleging that Johnson teamed with House Speaker Sam Rayburn and pressured Kennedy to favor Johnson.

The biographer Robert Caro offered a different perspective. He wrote that the Kennedy campaign was desperate to win what was forecast to be a very close election against Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Johnson was needed on the ticket to help carry Texas and the Southern states. Caro’s research showed that on July 14, John Kennedy started the process while Johnson was still asleep. At 6:30 am, John Kennedy asked Robert Kennedy to prepare an estimate of upcoming electoral votes including Texas. Robert called Pierre Salinger and Kenneth O’Donnell to assist him. Salinger realized the ramifications of counting Texas votes as their own. He asked him whether he was considering a Kennedy-Johnson ticket. Robert replied, “Yes.” Caro contends that it was then that John Kennedy called Johnson called Johnson to arrange a meeting. He also called Pennsylvania governor David L. Lawrence (a Johnson backer) to require that he nominate Johnson for vice President if Johnson were to accept the role. According to Caro, Kennedy and Johnson met and Johnson said that Kennedy would have trouble with Kennedy supporters who were anti–Johnson. Kennedy returned to his suite to announce the Kennedy-Johnson ticket to his closest supporters, including northern political bosses. O'Donnell was  angry at what he considered a betrayal by Kennedy, who had previously cast Johnson as anti-labor and anti-liberal.

Afterwards, Robert Kennedy visited labor leaders who were extremely unhappy with the choice of Johnson and, after seeing the depth of labor opposition to Johnson, Robert ran messages between the hotel suites of his brother and Johnson—apparently trying to undermine the proposed ticket without John Kennedy's authorization.  Caro continues in his analysis that Robert Kennedy tried to get Johnson to agree to be the Democratic Party chairman rather than vice president. Johnson refused to accept a change in plans unless it came directly from John Kennedy. Despite his brother's interference, John Kennedy was firm that Johnson was who he wanted as running mate; he met with staffers such as Larry O'Brien, his national campaign manager, to say that Johnson was to be vice president. O'Brien recalled later that John Kennedy's words were wholly unexpected, but that after a brief consideration of the electoral vote situation, he thought "it was a stroke of genius.” When John and Robert Kennedy next saw their father Joe Kennedy, he told them that signing Johnson as running mate was the smartest thing that they had ever done.

During the time of LBJ’s vice presidential run, Johnson also sought a third term in the U.S. Senate.  According to Robert Caro, "On November 8, 1960, Lyndon Johnson won election for both the vice presidency of the United States, on the Kennedy-Johnson ticket, and for a third term as senator (he had Texas law changed to allow him to run for both offices)." When he won the vice presidency, he made arrangements to resign from the Senate, as he was required to do under federal law, as soon as it convened on January 3, 1961. (In 1988, Lloyd Bentsen, the vice presidential running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, and a Senator from Texas, took advantage of "Lyndon's law," and was able to retain his seat in the Senate despite Dukakis' loss to George H. W. Bush). Johnson was re-elected Senator with 1,306,605 votes (58 percent) to Republican John Tower's 927,653 (41.1 percent). Fellow Democrat William A. Blakley was appointed to replace Johnson as Senator, but Blakley lost a special election in May 1961 to Tower. Now, Lyndon Baines Johnson became the Vice President of America back in 1961.

When Clare Boothe Luce later asked him why he would accept the nomination to be a Vice Presidential candidate, he answered: “Clare, I looked it up: one out of every four Presidents has died in office. I’m a gamblin’ man, darlin’, and this is the only chance I got.” 

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Vice President

After the 1960 election, LBJ was concerned about the traditionally ineffective nature of his new office. He wasn't used this office at first. He at first wanted a transfer of the authority of the Senate majority leader to the vice Presidency since that office made him President of Senate. Yet, he faced great opposition from the Democratic Caucus including members whom he had counted as his supporters. Therefore, Johnson wanted to increase his influence within the executive branch. He drafted an executive order for Kennedy's signature giving Johnson "general supervision" over matters of national security. He wanted all government agencies to cooperate fully with the vice President in the carrying out of these assignments. JFK responded was to sign a non-binding letter requesting Johnson to "review" national security policies instead. John F. Kennedy similar turned down early requests from Johnson to be given an office adjacent to the Oval Office, and to employ a full time Vice Presidential staff within the White House. He finally gained more influence in the White House by 1961. Kennedy appointed Johnson's friend Sarah T. Hughes to a federal judgeship and Johnson had tried and failed to garner the nomination for Hughes at the beginning of his vice presidency. House Speaker Sam Rayburn wrangled the appointment from Kennedy in exchange for support of an administration bill.

It is no secret that many members of the Kennedy White House were contemptuous of Johnson including the President's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. They ridiculed his comparatively brusque, crude manner. Congressman Tip O'Neill recalled that the Kennedy men "had a disdain for Johnson that they didn't even try to hide....They actually took pride in snubbing him." John F. Kennedy, however, made efforts to keep LBJ busy, informed, and the White House often telling aides, "I can't afford to have my vice president, who knows every reporter in Washington, going around saying we're all screwed up, so we're going to keep him happy." JFK appointed him to jobs such as head of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, through which he worked with African Americans and other minorities. Kennedy may have intended this to remain a more nominal position, but Taylor in his "Pillar of Fire" contends that Johnson pushed the Kennedy administration's actions further and faster for civil rights than Kennedy originally intended to go.

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Branch wrote about the irony of Johnson being the advocate for civil rights, when the Kennedy family had hoped that he would appeal to conservative southern voters. In particular, he noted the Johnson's Memorial Day May 30, 1963 speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as being a catalyst that led to more action. He or LBJ said the following words at Gettysburg:

"...One hundred years later, the Negro remains in bondage to the color of his skin.

The Negro today asks justice.

We do not answer him--we do not answer those who lie beneath this soil--when we
reply to the Negro by asking, "Patience."

It is empty to plead that the solution to the dilemmas of the present rests on
the hands of the clock. The solution is in our hands. Unless we are willing to
yield up our destiny of greatness among the civilizations of history, Americans
--white and Negro together--must be about the business of resolving the challenge
which confronts us now...Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.

To the extent that the proclamation of emancipation is not fulfilled in fact, to that extent we shall have fallen short of assuring freedom to the free..."

LBJ took on many diplomatic missions. President John F. Kennedy gave him limited insights into global issues. He gave him more opportunities at promoting his interests. He attended Cabinet and National Security Council meetings. Kennedy gave Johnson control over all Presidential appointments involving Texas. He appointed him the chairman of the President's Ad Hoc Committee for Science. JFK also appointed Johnson as the Chairman of the National Aeronautics Space Council. The Soviet beat the U.S. with the first manned spaceflight on April of 1961. Kennedy gave Johnson the task of evaluating the state of the U.S. space program and recommending a project that would allow the U.S. to catch up or beat the Soviets.

Johnson responded with a recommendation that the US gain the leadership role by committing the resources to embark on a project to land an American on the Moon in the 1960's. Kennedy assigned priority to the space program, but Johnson's appointment provided potential cover in case of a failure.

Lyndon Johnson was touched by a Senate scandal in August of 1963. It was when Bobby Baker or the Secretary of the Majority Leader of Senate (and a protege of Johnson's) came under investigation by the Senate Rules Committee. Baker was accused of the allegations of bribery and financial malfeasance. One witness said that Baker had arranged for the witness to give kickbacks for the Vice President. Baker resigned in October, and the investigation did not expand to Johnson. The negative publicity from the affair fed rumors in Washington circles that Kennedy was planning on dropping Johnson from the Democratic ticket in the upcoming 1964 presidential election. However, on October 31, 1963, a reporter asked if he intended and expected to have Johnson on the ticket the following year. Kennedy replied, "Yes to both those questions." There is little doubt that Robert Kennedy and Johnson hated each other, yet John and Robert Kennedy agreed that dropping Johnson from the ticket could produce heavy losses in the South in the 1964 election, and they agreed that Johnson would stay on the ticket.

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Early Presidency

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Lyndon Baines Johnson was quickly sworn in as President on Air Force One in Dallas, Texas. This was about 2 hours and 8 minutes after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Immediately, many people believed that it was a conspiracy.  He was sworn in by the U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, family friend. In the rush, a Bible wasn't found. So, Johnson took the oath of office suing a Roman Catholic missal from President Kennedy's desk. There is the famous photograph from Cecil Stoughton which showed Johnson taking the oath of office as Mrs. Kennedy looks on.This took place abroad a presidential aircraft. Johnson during his early time as President saw a healthy economy, steady growth, and low unemployment. There was foreign policy issues. The civil rights movement grew into new hegiths while racism was widespread in America. During his Presidency, he focused both on domestic policy and the Vietnam War, especially after 1966.

At first, LBJ moved into Washington and wanted an immediate transition to provide stability. The nation grieved the death of JFK. Immediately, he called for the passage of civil rights legislation. In the days following the assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson made an address to Congress saying that "No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he fought so long." American grief over the death of President John F. Kennedy influenced the passage of civil rights legislation. Much of Kennedy's plans from anti-poverty measures to civil rights bills were passed under the Johnson administration. On November 29, 1963 just one week after Kennedy's assassination, Johnson issued an executive order to rename NASA's Apollo Launch Operations Center and the NASA/Air Force Cape Canaveral launch facilities as the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Cape Canaveral was officially known as Cape Kennedy from 1963-1973. In essence, LBJ would be much more progressive than Kennedy on domestic issues (as President), but he would unfortunately be much more reactionary than John F. Kennedy on foreign policy issues, especially as it related to the Vietnam War plus Cold War issues.

LBJ supported the Warren Commission as a means for him to head off many people who viewed the Kennedy assassination as a conspiracy. He organized a panel headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren and other people. The commission has been disputed and debated for years and decades. The Warren Commission said that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassinated. People, who supported the view of conspiracy, opposed the results since day one. LBJ retained many senior Kennedy appointees. He even retained Robert Kennedy as Attorney General. RFK and LBJ didn't get along. Robert Kennedy would leave to run for the Senate in 1964. Johnson had no official chief of staff. Walker Jenkins was the first among a handful of equals and presided over the details of daily operations at the White House. George Reedy was the Johnson second longest serving aide. He assumed the post of press secretary when John F. Kennedy's own Pierre Salinger left that post in March 1964.

Horace Busby was another "triple-threat man," as Johnson referred to his aides. He served primarily as a speech writer and political analyst. Bill Moyers was the youngest member of Johnson's staff. He handled scheduling and speechwriting part-time.

He wanted to sign legislation immediately. He worked with Harry F. Byrd of Virginia to negotiate a reduction in the budget below $100 billion in exchange to pass the Revenue Act of 1964 (which was a tax cut). Congressional approval followed at the end of February and this caused him to go onward with civil rights.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. speak to each other thoughtfully as others look on.

The Civil Rights Movement

President John F. Kennedy submitted to Congress a civil rights bill on June of 1963. He faced strong opposition. President Johnson took on this cause. He asked Robert Kennedy to spearhead the undertaking  for the administration on Capitol Hill. The historian Robert Caro wrote that the bill Kennedy had submitted was facing the same activists who prevented the passage of civil rights bill in the past. Southern congressmen and senators used congressional procedure to prevent it from coming to a vote. They even held up all of the major bills Kennedy had proposed and were considered urgent. They held up the tax reform bill in order to force the bill's supporters to pull it. LBJ knew of the procedural tactics. Harry Truman submitted a civil rights bill 15 years earlier and it was held up. In that fight, a rent-control renewal bill was held up until the civil-rights bill was withdrawn. Believing that the current course meant that the Civil Rights Act would suffer the same fate, he adopted a different strategy from that of Kennedy, who had mostly removed himself from the legislative process. By tackling the tax cut first, the previous tactic was eliminated.

In order for the civil rights bill to be passed in the House, it must get through the Rules Committee. It had held it up in an attempt to end it. So, Johnson decided on a campaign to use discharge petition to force it onto the house floor. Facing a growing threat that they would be bypassed, the House rules Committee approved the bill. It was moved to the floor of the full House and the House passed it shortly thereafter by a vote of 290-110. In the Senate, since the tax bill was passed three days earlier, the anti-civil rights senators used a filibuster as their only remaining tool. Overcoming the filibuster needed the support of over 20 Republicans, who were growing less supportive due to the fact that their party was about to nominate for President a candidate (i.e. Barry Goldwater) who opposed the bill. According to Caro, it was Johnson's ability to convince Republican leader Everett Dirksen to support the bill that amassed the necessary Republican votes to overcome the filibuster in March of 1964. This came after 75 hours of debate. The bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 71-29. Johnson signed the fortified Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that the evening after signing the bill, Johnson told an aide, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come", anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party. Biographer Randall B. Woods has argued that Johnson effectively used appeals to Judeo-Christian ethics to garner support for the civil rights law.

LBJ was inspired by FDR as his mentor. He wanted to promote the social justice and many liberal values since it was part of his upbringing and personal philosophy. It is important to support social justice and freedom.

The Great Society and the War on Poverty

Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted a catchy, important slogan for the 1964 campaign to describe his proposed domestic agenda for 1965. Eric Goldman joined the White House in December of 1964. He thought that Johnson's domestic program was best captured in the title of Walter Lippman's book, "The Good Society." Richard Goodwin tweaked it to the "Great Society." This was incorporated in detail as part of a speech for Johnson in May 1964 at the University of Michigan. It dealt with the movements of urban renewal, modern transpiration, clean environment, anti-poverty, healthcare reform, crime control, and educational reform.

By late 1963, Lyndon Baines Johnson launched the initially offensive of his War on Poverty. He recruited Kennedy relative Sargent Shriver, then head of the Peace Corps, to spearhead the effort. On March of 1964, LBJ sent to the Congress the Economic Opportunity Act, which created the Job Corps and the Community Action Program. This was designed to attack poverty locally. This act also created VISTA or the Volunteers in Service to America, a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.

In 1964, at Johnson's request, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1964 and the Economic Opportunity Act. This was part of his war on poverty. More legislation came like Head Start, food stamps, and Work Study. During Johnson's years in office, the national poverty rate declined significantly. Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 23 percent to 12 percent. He tried to promote his War on Poverty with an urban renewal effort. He presented it to Congress on January of 1966. It was called the "Demonstration Cities Program." To be eligible a city would need to demonstrate its readiness to "arrest blight and decay and make substantial impact on the development of its entire city." Johnson requested an investment of $400 million per year totaling $2.4 billion. In the fall of 1966 the Congress passed a substantially reduced program costing $900 million, which Johnson later called the Model Cities Program. Changing the name had little effect on the success of the bill; the New York Times wrote 22 years later that the program was for the most part a failure, but government investment in helping cities is legitimate.

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The Vietnam War in its Early Years

When Kennedy was assassinated, there were 16,000 American military personnel stationed in Vietnamese. They were used to support the South Vietnam in the Vietnam War against North Vietnam. There was the 1954 Geneva Conference that partitioned Vietnam into 2 nations. North Vietnam embraced a Communist government. Johnson believed in the notorious myth of the Domino theory, which meant that if Vietnam became totally Communist, then Southeast Asia plus the rest of the world could be Communist. So, LBJ wanted to send American troops to stop in his mind "Communist expansion." When Johnson took office, he immediately reversed Kennedy's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel  by the end of 1963 (and ultimately all American troops by the end of 1965). In late summer of 1964, LBJ seriously once questioned the value of staying in Vietnam. Yet, he met with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor. So, he wanted to stabilize Saigon by promoting military intervention in Vietnam. He expanded the numbers and roles of the American military after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident happened in August of 1964. It was about allegations from the military that 2 U.S. destroyers were attacked by some North Vietnamese torpedo boats in international waters or 40 miles form the Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin. There were contradictory naval communications and reports of the attack. McNamara later admitted that the August 2, 1964 attack between the USS Maddox and North Vietnamese forces did exist while the August 4th event never occured.

LBJ didn't want talk about the Vietnam War during the 1964 election campaign, but he felt forced to respond to the events of Vietnam. So, he sought and obtained from Congress the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964. He was determined to gain an image on dealing with foreign policy issues. He wanted to prevent criticism that Truman had received involving Korea (since Truman proceeded without congressional endorsement of military action). Johnson wanted his actions to blunt attacks from the Goldwater camp. The 1964 resolution gave congressional approval for use of military force by the commander in chief to repel future attacks and to assist members of SEATO requiring assistance. Johnson, during the campaign, said of wanting South Vietnamese people to have independence without any U.S. offensive posture. That was false. The public's reaction to the resolution at the time was positive—48 percent favored stronger measures in Vietnam and only 14 percent wanted to negotiate a settlement and leave. During the 1964 Presidential campaign, Johnson said constantly that he wanted measured support for Vietnam while avoiding another Koea. In private, he feared that whatever he did wouldn't be totally succesfuly. He wanted to promote the Great Society agenda. His political opponents wanted to divert attention and resources away from the War on Poverty.

The situation on the ground was aggravated in the fall by additional Viet Minh attacks on US ships in the Tonkin Gulf, as well as an attack on Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam. Johnson decided against retaliatory action at the time after consultation with the Joint Chiefs and also after public pollster Lou Harris confirmed that his decision would not detrimentally affect him at the polls. By the end of 1964, there were approximately 23,000 military personnel in South Vietnam. U.S. casualties for 1964 totaled 1,278.

During the winter of 1964-1965, LBJ was pressured by the military to begin a bombing campaign to forcefully resist a communist takeover in South Vietnam. A plurality in the polls at that time was in support of military action against the Communists. Only 26-30 percent of people opposed. Johnson revised his priorities and a new preference for stronger action existed by the end of January 1965. There was another change in the Saigon government by then. He then agreed with Mac Bundy and McNamara, that the continued passive role would only lead to defeat and withdrawal in humiliation. Johnson said, "Stable government or no stable government in Saigon we will do what we ought to do. I'm prepared to do that; we will move strongly. General Nguyễn Khánh (head of the new government) is our boy." The Vietnam War continued.

By 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson decided to advance a systematic bombing campaign on February. This came after a ground report from Bundy recommending immediate U.S. action to avoid defeat. Also, the Viet Cong had just killed eight U.S. advisors and wounded dozens of others in an attack at Pleiku Air Base. The eight week bombing campaign from America was known as Operation Rolling Thunder (which started on March 2, 1965). Johnson wanted no comment that the war effort had to be expanded back then. Many of the advisors believed that short term, benefits will come to America. Long term views were more realistic of an intensification of the conflict. He or LBJ limited information to the public. Johnson was flexible. By March of 1965, Bundy urged the use of ground forces. He believed that American air operations alone couldn't stop Hanoi's actions. So, Johnson approved of an increase in logistical troops of 18,000 to 20,000 troops. There was the the deployment of two additional Marine battalions and a Marine air squadron, in addition to planning for the deployment of two more divisions—and most importantly a change in mission from defensive to offensive operations; nevertheless, he disobligingly continued to insist that this was not to be publicly represented as a change in existing policy.

By mid-June 1965, there were about 82,000 U.S. ground fores in Vietnam. This was an increase of 150 percent. That same month, Ambassador Taylor reported that the bombing offensive against North Vietnam had been ineffective, and that the South Vietnamese army was outclassed and in danger of collapse. Gen. Westmoreland shortly thereafter recommended the president further increase ground troops from 82,000 to 175,000. After consulting with his principals, Johnson, desirous of a low profile, chose to announce at a press conference an increase to 125,000 troops, with additional forces to be sent later upon request. Johnson described himself at the time as boxed in by unpalatable choices—between sending Americans to die in Vietnam and giving in to the communists. If he sent additional troops he would be attacked as an interventionist and if he did not he thought he risked being impeached. He continued to insist that his decision "did not imply any change in policy whatsoever.". Of his desire to veil the decision, Johnson jested privately, "If you have a mother-in-law with only one eye, and she has it in the center of her forehead, you don't keep her in the living room." By October 1965, there were over 200,000 troops deployed in Vietnam. This exercise of imperial militarism by the Johnson administration has no justification.

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The 1964 Presidential Election

The 1964 Presidential election was one of the most important elections in human history. It changed the U.S. political landscape forever. The good news is that the far right Republican Barry Goldwater was defeated and many progressive policies were implemented in 1964 and beyond. The bad news is that it ironically enough caused such a huge backlash against progressive policies that it created unfortunately the Reagan Revolution during the 1980's and ultimately Trumpism during the 21st century. To start, it is important to know the events chronologically. First, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 caused much heartache in America. Lyndon Baines Johnson had huge popularity and won a landslide. He made history in many ways. The issues around this issue revolved around civil rights, foreign policy, the role of government, taxes, the future, and ultimately the human rights of all Americans. It was a election that dealt with how should the government intervene in promoting the human rights of all people. By late 1963, many people temporarily didn't campaign out of respect for the late President John F. Kennedy. By January 1964, both the Democratic and Republican campaigns existed in high gear to promote their views. The Democratic primary was very short lived. The only Democratic primary challenge of Johnson was by George Wallace of Alabama. He was a racist during the 1960's and promoted states' rights. He went to the North to spread his message of hate and bigotry too. LBJ received over 1 million votes in the Democratic primary while Wallace received almost 700,000 votes in the same primary. The Democratic Convention took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The greatest controversy involved the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party or the MFDP. They were formed, because the mainline Democratic delegation of Mississippi were racist and was elected by a white primary system. The MFDP wanted to promote progressive representation.

The segregationists hated the MFDP and the "liberal" Democratic party leaders wanted the MFDP to compromise. The compromise proposal was to have even division of the seats between two Mississippi delegations. Johnson knew that Mississippi would vote for Goldwater anyway, but he didn't want political criticism from the national and world press. He sent Hubert Humphrey to find a compromise. Even black civil rights leaders like Roy Wilkins, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bayard Rustin wanted a compromise, but some MFDP members heroically refused. Ultimately, the compromise worked. It involved MFDP getting 2 seats. The regular, racist Mississippi delegation was required to pledge to support the party ticket. Also, no future Democratic convention would accept a delegation chosen by a discriminatory poll. Joseph L. Rauh Jr. or the MFDP's lawyer agreed to the deal after refusing to accept it at first. Many white racist delegates from Mississippi and Alabama refused to sign any pledge and left the convention. Many young civil rights workers were offended by the compromise and became more politically independent. Johnson would lose Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina (all former Confederate states).

Lyndon Baines Johnson supported the liberal Hubert Humphrey as his vice Presidential running mate instead of Robert F. Kennedy. RFK and LBJ didn't like each other, because according to Lyndon Johnson, he collaborated with FDR to fire Joseph P. Kennedy because of his controversial views. During the 1950's, Johnson would mock Joe Kennedy and he criticized Joseph McCarthy (or the anti-Communist extremist who promoted violation of democratic rights. RFK and McCarthy were allies during the 1950's because of their anti-Communist views). Also, RFK and LBJ had different personality differences. In early 1964, Robert Kennedy failed to get Johnson to accept him as his running mate. Johnson said that he didn't want any cabinet members to be second place on the Democratic ticket. Johnson made RFK give his speech at the last day of the Convention, so that would be after he selected his running mate Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota.

The Republican primary of 1964 was much more complicated, heated, and contentious. It signified the beginning of the modern day conservative movement in American society. By 1964, the Republican Party of the GOP was divided into conservative and moderate-liberal factions. Back then, conservatives and liberals were heavily represented in both major parties. Today in 2018, most liberals are Democrats and most conservatives are Republicans (there are exceptions of course like third party movements, etc.).

The Republican candidates during the 1964 Republican primary were Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. from Massachusetts, Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, Representative Walter Judd from Minnesota, Senator Hiram Fong from Hawaii, former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, and Representative John W. Byrnes of Wisconsin.

By 1964, Richard Nixon didn't ran for the election. So, it was open season. Nixon couldn't unite both factions of the moderates and the conservatives in 1960 or in 1964. The conservatives' champion was the Senator from Arizona named Barry Goldwater. Back in the day, many conservatives were based in the Midwest. By the 1950's, they grew more in the South and the West. Conservatives historically wanted a low tax, small federal government. They believed in individual rights and business interests. They also opposed social welfare programs. These conservatives in 1964 hated the moderates, who dominated much of the GOP. The moderate wing was found heavily in the Northeastern region of America.

Since 1940, the Eastern moderates had successfully defeated conservative presidential candidates at the GOP’s national conventions. The conservatives believed the Eastern moderates were little different from liberal Democrats in their philosophy and approach to government. Goldwater’s chief opponent for the Republican nomination was Nelson Rockefeller, the Governor of New York and the longtime leader of the GOP’s liberal-moderate faction.

At first, Nelson Rockefeller was a front runner. He was ahead of Goldwater. Then, in 1963, something happened. That year was 2 years after Rockefeller's divorce from his first wife. He married Margarita Murphy, who was 18 years younger than him. She surrendered her four children to his custody. This would be a scandal back in the 1980's, but imagine the 1960's. This caused a huge uproar among conservatives. There are rumors that Rockefeller had an extramarital affair with her before his divorce. Social conservatives and women voters in the GOP were angry at Rockefeller. After his remarrriage, he lost the lead among Republicans by 20 points overnight. His critics also included Prescott Bush of Connecticut. He was the father of President George H. W. Bush and the grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush said of Rockefeller that: "...Have we come to the point in our life as a nation where the governor of a great state—one who perhaps aspires to the nomination for president of the United States—can desert a good wife, mother of his grown children, divorce her, then persuade a young mother of four youngsters to abandon her husband and their four children and marry the governor?"

The first primary made Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. the victory in New Hampshire. This shocked many as some expected Goldwater or Rockefeller to win. Cabot later decided that he didn't want the Republican nomination. Goldwater continued to win in Illinois, Texas, and Indiana primaries with little opposition. He won Nebraska after the opposition from the draft-Nixon movement.

Goldwater also won a number of state caucuses and gathered even more delegates. Meanwhile, Nelson Rockefeller won the West Virginia and Oregon primaries against Goldwater, and William Scranton won in his home state of Pennsylvania. Both Rockefeller and Scranton also won several state caucuses, mostly in the Northeast.

The final showdown between Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller existed in the California primary. Goldwater won California. This came after his new wife's child was born. Goldwater won a narrow 51 to 49% margin. Some liberal and moderate Republicans wanted William Scranton or the Governor of Pennsylvania to run against Goldwater, but he lost too. Goldwater won the Republican nomination.

The 1964 Republican Convention in Daly City, California was one of the most bitter conventions in history. Goldwater won. Rockefeller was booed when he was on the podium. Conservatives screamed at him. Moderates and conservatives expressed disdain for each other. Goldwater picked William E. Miller from New York state as his running mate. Goldwater stated that he chose Miller simply because “he drives [President] Johnson nuts." In the convention, Jackie Robinson was heckled and afterwards, he supported LBJ and Humphrey for President respectively in 1964 and in 1968. In accepting his nomination, Barry Goldwater uttered his most famous phrase (a quote from Cicero suggested by speechwriter Harry Jaffa): “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” For many GOP moderates, Goldwater’s speech was seen as a deliberate insult, and many of these moderates would defect to the Democrats in the fall election.

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The General election of 1964 was filled with a clear choices. 2 men who had opposite political views ran against each other on the Democratic and Republican sides. There was no ambiguity. It was very overt in the decision that voters had to make. Goldwater rallied conservatives, but he failed to massively expand his base of support, which was his political weakness. He was stuck in his base. One of Barry Goldwater's most evil mistakes was his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law promoted federal civil rights. Goldwater opposed the law since he felt it was unconstitutional by virtue of it being a federal government overreach. He said that he wasn't a racist, but he believed that desegregation was a states' rights issue not a national policy issue. That's a lie for many reasons. One is that desegregation deals with people nationwide, and the Fourteenth Amendment promotes citizenship nationwide. Different civil rights law in different states would mean that some states would be more free than others and that wasn't needed. An uniform federal policy as it relates to civil rights is better than multiple states having different types of civil rights laws. Segregation violates the Fourteenth Amendment, it violates the freedom of association, and laws can be legally passed federally by Congress in order to end Jim Crow apartheid.

African Americans overwhelmingly supported Johnson because of Goldwater's blunders. Goldwater hypocritically voted in favor of the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights acts, but only after proposing "restrictive amendments" to them. Goldwater was famous for speaking "off-the-cuff" at times, and many of his former statements were given wide publicity by the Democrats. In the early 1960's, Goldwater had called the Eisenhower administration “a dime store New Deal”, and the former president Eisenhower never fully forgave him or offered him his full support in the election. Goldwater was wrong to say the following words in December of 1961. In a news conference, he said that, "sometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea”, a remark which indicated his dislike of the liberal economic and social policies that were often associated with that part of the nation. That comment came back to haunt him, in the form of a Johnson television commercial, as did remarks about making Social Security voluntary and selling the Tennessee Valley Authority. In his most famous verbal gaffe, Goldwater once joked that the U.S. military should “lob one [a nuclear bomb] into the men’s room of the Kremlin” in the Soviet Union.

So, Goldwater was a complete extremist during the 1964 election. Moderate Republicans Governors Nelson Rockefeller of New York and George Romney of Michigan refused to support Goldwater and didn't campaign for him. Nixon and Scranton campaigned for Goldwater out of loyalty to the GOP. Nixon did not entirely agree with Goldwater’s political stances and said that it would “be a tragedy” if Goldwater’s platform were not "challenged and repudiated" by the Republicans. The New York Herald-Tribune, a voice for eastern Republicans (and a target for Goldwater activists during the primaries), supported Johnson in the general election. Some moderates even formed a “Republicans for Johnson” organization, although most prominent GOP politicians avoided being associated with it. Goldwater won a libel suit against psychiatrists saying that he was emotionally unfit for office. Of course, Reagan supported Goldwater. Ronald Reagan gave a speech (called A Time for Choosing) praising Goldwater and Reagan was known to compare Medicare to totalitarianism, which is ludicrous. Today, Medicare has helped millions of American lives.

There were many ads and slogans during this election year. The Daisy commercial was very controversial. It showed a girl pulling daisies and the world explodes from a nuclear blast. Johnson implied that Goldwater wanted to provoke nuclear annihilation in the world. Goldwater advocated the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Many voters viewed Goldwater as a right wing extremist. His slogan “In your heart, you know he’s right” was successfully parodied by the Johnson campaign into “In your guts, you know he‘s nuts”, or “In your heart, you know he might” (as in “he might push the nuclear button”), or even “In your heart, he’s too far right." Some cynics wore buttons saying “Even Johnson is better than Goldwater!" LBJ broadcast messages nationwide. Each campaign ended campaign on the week of the death of former President Herbert Hoover on October 20, 1964. Both men attended his funeral. Johnson had a huge lead in the polls before the election. The election on November 3, 1964 caused Lyndon Baines Johnson to have landslide victory. He beat Goldwater in the general election, winning over 61% of the popular vote, the highest percentage since the popular vote first became widespread in 1824. In the end, Goldwater won only his native state of Arizona and five Deep South states—Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina—which had been increasingly alienated by Democratic civil rights policies. This was the best showing in the South for a GOP candidate since Reconstruction.

The five Southern states that voted for Goldwater swung over dramatically to support him. For instance, in Mississippi, where Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt had won 97% of the popular vote in 1936, Goldwater won 87% of the vote. Of these states, Louisiana had been the only state where a Republican had won even once since Reconstruction. Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina had not voted Republican in any presidential election since Reconstruction, whilst Georgia had never voted Republican even during Reconstruction (thus making Goldwater the first Republican to ever carry Georgia).

The 1964 election transformed the South. The South afterwards became increasingly Republican. Johnson still had a majority of the popular vote in the eleven former Confederate states. Johnson was the first Democrat to win the state of Vermont in a Presidential election. He carried Maine too. Also, the election caused the defeat of many conservative Republican congressmen. This gave him or Johnson the majority to overcome the conservative coalition to pass great progressive legislation. This was also the first election where the District of Columbia participated in under the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Goldwater was defeated and this caused one foundation of the conservative revolution in the future. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and promoted Great Society programs. After this election, he would lose popularity over his policies towards Vietnam. Many white Southerners became Reagan Democrats and voted for Republicans. This election caused more black people to move away from the Republican Party and vote for Democrats (this trend started since the New Deal with Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Since the 1964 election, Democratic presidential candidates have almost consistently won at least 80–90% of the black vote in each presidential election. The 1964 Presidential election was a very important part of American history indeed.

By Timothy