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LBJ and the Great Society
54 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 7 - Post Script
So what do historians think, fifty years out, about LBJ’s Great Society and its long term impact on American life and politics? In early February, series correspondent Melody Barnes put that question to three distinguished scholars, gathered before a live audience at the Miller Center for Presidential Studies, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Their perspectives are a thoughtful summing up of the Johnson Years, and a good place, we think, to close out this podcast series. The panelists: Kevin Gaines, the Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Virginia; Guian McKee, associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center; and Julian Zelizer, Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Our thanks to them for their insights, and to you our listeners for your interest.
40 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 6 - The Engineer
Five decades after Lyndon Johnson first unveiled his lofty vision of a Great Society, politicians and pundits are still arguing about what he accomplished, and what he didn’t. This final installment will look at the legacy of LBJ's Great Society through the lens on one of its most enduring and popular programs — Head Start. Today, the Head Start program is alive and well, and so deeply woven into the fabric of American life that few know of its roots in the Great Society, or of the conflict and controversy that plagued many of its early programs. Features Alice O’Connor, Professor of History and Director of the Blum Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy at the University of California Santa Barbara, and commentary from historians Rhonda Y. Williams, Josh Zeitz, and Julian Zelizer. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
38 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 5 - Give Us the Ballot
By his own account the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was Lyndon Johnson’s greatest achievement – the jewel in the crown of the Great Society, and widely considered the most effective piece of civil rights legislation in American history. This episode focuses on the extraordinarily eventful eight-month period — January to August 1965 — when the battle for Voting Rights was joined and ultimately fought to a successful conclusion. The outcome was hard won, and in doubt up until the last frantic weeks of negotiation and maneuvering in the wake of the bloody protests in Selma, Alabama. We hear from historian Rhonda Y. Williams, the John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University, about the complex and precarious alliance forged between the President on the inside, and Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement on the outside. Includes interview excerpts from Washington University Libraries, drawn from the Henry Hampton Collection. This digitized resource includes complete video interviews with Civil Rights Movement leaders, recorded for the influential and award-winning documentary film, Eyes on the Prize. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
32 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 4 - Medicine Man
FDR, Harry Truman, and JFK all attempted to pass some form of universal health care — but no one had gotten even close. Johnson believed he might succeed where his predecessors had failed, at least for the country’s elderly, but to do so he would have to overcome the opposition of the same influential interest group that had derailed all earlier attempts — the American Medical Association. To prevail in this fight, LBJ would have to win over one key legislator — Congressman Wilbur Mills, the powerful head of the House Ways and Means Committee. Johnson's skillful and tireless courtship of Congressman Mills, and the alliance ultimately forged between them, is the central story of this episode. With analysis from historian Julian Zelizer, author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.” Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
33 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 3 - The Bully Pulpit
“We will not win our war against poverty until the conscience of the entire Nation is aroused,” LBJ told an aide. But how to do that when most Americans were doing reasonably well and barely knew poverty was an issue? Somehow LBJ would have to convince a risk-averse and price-sensitive congress to back a costly, new government program aimed at solving a problem many voters barely knew existed. Johnson's solution: the 1965 Poverty Tour, a blitz campaign that would take the president into the country's poorest and most neglected communities in a bid to make the American electorate aware of the largely hidden poverty in their midst, and to rally their support behind his ambitious plan to do something about it. Commentary and analysis: Joshua Zeitz, author of “Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House.” Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
26 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 2 - Mr. Poverty
"I didn't know a damn thing about poverty and didn't want the job," Sargent Shriver would later recall, of his conversation with the president, “and I told him so.” But it was no use: Lyndon Johnson had fixed on Shriver to lead his newly declared war on poverty, and that was that. But could poverty really be eradicated? And if so, how? It fell to the reluctant recruit to figure that out, and fast. Johnson had given him just six weeks to turn a dauntingly ambitious idea into a legislative program, and somehow get it through a deeply change-resistant Congress. Contributing historian: Joshua Zeitz. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
27 minutes | a year ago
S2 Ep 1 - The Great Unveiling
On the night of JFK’s assassination, with the nation reeling, Lyndon Johnson stayed up much of the night with two young aides, and laid out a list of legislative initiatives he proposed to pursue. In its scope, vision, and sheer audacity, the list was astonishing, affecting nearly every aspect of American public life, from health care to voting rights to education. It would be nearly six months before the agenda that LBJ mapped out that night would fully coalesce, and be officially unveiled, under the banner of the Great Society. But from day one, LBJ was off and running, determined to be not merely the keeper of the JFK flame, but a president of Rushmore level greatness — the president who picked up where FDR left off. This first episode will look at the forces that shaped LBJ's vision and ambition, and the trajectory of his rise from the near total obscurity of the vice-presidency to the pinnacle of power. Key voices include senior aide Jack Valenti, who mapped the strategy for rolling out the Great Society vision, and Richard Goodwin, who wrote the speech that would articulate that vision to the American electorate. With commentary and analysis from historians Joshua Zeitz and Julian Zelizer, along with archival audio from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
3 minutes | a year ago
Trailer - Welcome to LBJ and the Great Society
While President Lyndon B. Johnson is remembered today largely for his failure in Vietnam, this podcast tells a different story, revealing his unprecedented success in shaping domestic politics. Medicare, civil and voting rights, clean air and water, Head Start, immigration reform, public broadcasting — how did Lyndon Johnson pull it off? That’s the question we’ll be exploring through the recorded recollections of those who were there when this history was being made, and who had a hand in its making. Hosted by Melody Barnes, former chief domestic policy advisor to Barack Obama.
51 minutes | 4 years ago
Epilog: “I Shall Not Seek…”
Lyndon Johnson's March '68 announcement, that he would not seek re-election, stunned the nation and the world, and marked the effective end of a political career that had once seemed bound for Rushmore-level greatness. This special, long-form edition of LBJ's War traces the arc, and looks at the causes, of that tragic fall from grace. For those who have listened to all six prior episodes, a few moments will be familiar, but most will not: 90%-plus previously unheard material.
24 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep 6 LBJ's War - The Shock of Tet
“Whammo, we got caught with our pants down,” a CIA analyst says of the Tet Offensive, the massive surprise attack that North Vietnam launched against American and South Vietnamese forces in the pre-dawn hours of January 31st, 1968. Just what exactly happened and what it signified would take some time to sort out, but the message from Hanoi to the White House was immediate and unmistakeable: We will outlast you. In this final episode of the series: Tet '68 and its transformative impact on American understanding of the war.
21 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep 5 LBJ's War - The Preacher and the President
“I’ll try to be worthy of your hopes,” LBJ told Martin Luther King, just days into his presidency, and for the next two years, largely made good on that vow. Dr. King, for his part, recognized their common goal – racial and economic justice – and threw his own considerable weight behind it, until finally, the war in Vietnam made it impossible to do so any longer. A look back at the 1967 speech that broke their bond forever.
23 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep 4 LBJ's War - Parting the Curtains
For fifteen months, LBJ kept the country largely in the dark about the Vietnam War. Then, in February ’66, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and its chairman William Fulbright, administered a strong dose of sunlight.
18 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep 3 LBJ's War - The Carrot and the Stick
By the spring of 1965, pressure is building on President Johnson to make his case for the war to the American electorate. He resists, preferring to manage the conflict without public scrutiny, but finally agrees to go public, in a speech at Johns Hopkins University. The strategy behind the speech: a little something for everybody. A look at how that strategy works out, and what it reveals about LBJ's congenital bias for secrecy.
0 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep 2 LBJ's War - The Tonkin Incident(s)
Twice in six weeks, in the late summer of 1964, U.S. destroyers reported they were under unprovoked attack, by North Vietnamese PT boats, while on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin. The first incident produced a massive airstrike in retaliation, and three days later, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which changed the course of the Vietnam War. The second attack produced...no response at all. Did Lyndon Johnson learn something along the way?
18 minutes | 4 years ago
S1 Ep. 1 LBJ's War - The Churchill of Asia
“They started with me on Diem,” LBJ told an old friend, “that he was corrupt, and he ought to be killed. So, we killed him.” Not quite true, it turns out, but the brutal assassination of South Vietnam’s President Diem, just three weeks before JFK met the same fate in Dallas, would cast a long shadow over the Johnson presidency, and shape LBJ’s thinking on the war. 1963.
5 minutes | 4 years ago
Trailer - Welcome to LBJ’s War
LBJ’s War is a podcast that tells the story of LBJ's failure in Vietnam and fall from grace in the voices of those who were there.
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