The Great Society
|Speaker:||Lyndon B Johnson|
|Place:||Ohio University, Athens, OH|
|Subject:||Civil Rights, Social Justice|
In 1964, President Johnson
announced a set of programs for the US that focused on social reformation and bringing
justice amongst races. Similar to the New Deal program introduced by FDR, the programs also focused on education,
healthcare, and urbanization and transportation issues. While the New Deal was enacted
while the nation was in crisis, the Great Society programs were enacted before many
people were able to see the economic downturn. During his last two years in office,
Johnson passed laws to expand the Food Stamp program, introduce the Fair Housing
Act, assist the handicapped, and improve safety standards. By the end of his term,
Johnson had helped pass 226 out of 252 legislative acts to ensure equality and government
aid. Here, we show part of the Great Society speech, given in Ohio, Michigan, and
several other places, detailing the government’s response to people in need.
Johnson: And this administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war
Narrator: The war against poverty was the war that Johnson really wanted to fight.
Johnson: It will not be a short or easy struggle, but we shall not rest until that
Narrator: When Lyndon Johnson became President 35,000,000 Americans were living
S. Douglas Cater: And I said, “But they don’t vote. They don’t have any organized
Narrator: Johnson now turned to the Director of the Peace Corps, Sergeant Schriver.
Sergeant Schriver: One Saturday morning he called me up and said that his radio
Johnson: Office of the President, so help me God.
Sergeant Schriver: I turned to my wife and I said “Looks as if I’m the new head
Sergeant Schriver: President Johnson’s program on poverty is distinguished in at
Narrator: In six short weeks Johnson had come up with his package, but he would
Sergeant Schriver: He didn’t have to tell me what he desired. I knew what he desired.
Narrator: Johnson criss-crossed the country, appealing for support for his anti-poverty
Johnson: Our first objective is to free 30 million Americans from the presence of
Narrator: For Johnson, it was a return to his political past, the old battle cries
Donald Malafronte: He was the last soldier in the New Deal war, like the final expression
Johnson: Do something we can be proud of. Help the weak and the meek and lift them
Ronnie Dugger: Most people don’t actively care about people they don’t know, people
Robert Dallek: His vision was of helping the disadvantaged to help themselves. His
Johnson: We have a right to expect a job to provide food for our families, a roof
Narrator: Johnson would make war on poverty, and there would be no casualties. Everyone
Ronnie Dugger: And he would tell business people “Listen, we’ve got a very abundant
Sergeant Schriver: We were a generation of people who had been in World War II,
Narrator: The war on poverty was just part of Johnson’s program for the country.
Johnson: The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich
Narrator: It was an inflated rhetoric.
Johnson: It is a place where man can renew-
Narrator: The kind American leaders seldom use anymore.
Johnson: It is a place which honors creation for its own sake.
Narrator: As one aide described it “What he meant was a full stomach, yes, but a
Johnson: It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals
Narrator: His aspirations were enormous. He wanted to do something for everyone.