Social Justice Gallery
The Social Justice Gallery features descriptions and graphics of legislation passed by LBJ and the reasons each was needed, including Civil Rights, consumer protection, Medicare, public broadcasting, The War on Poverty beautification, education, and his vision of the Great Society. Click on the first image to view the complete slideshow.
LBJ felt strongly about the American Promise, and he wanted to help create a country where opportunity was there for all Americans. At the time, there were 54 million Americans without a high school education, more than 25 percent of the population. More than 20 percent of the population was living in poverty. Johnson wanted to spend his time as President righting some of these wrongs and bringing opportunity to those who did not have it. By the end of his term as President, Johnson had help cut the number of Americans living in poverty from 20 percent to 12.
On May 22, 1964, President Johnson gave a speech at the University of Michigan that described his vision for a better America. Here is an excerpt:
"The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.
The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.
It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what it adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.
But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor." Watch and listen as President Johnson delivers this speech in the Topic Talk below or read a transcript.
Did You Know…
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was a strong supporter of The Great Society. “One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society, shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.” [LBJ Library photo #A1030-19a by Yoichi Okamoto]