The Great Society and LBJ- Eunice and Anna

What?: On November 22, 1963, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into presidency after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas during his 1960 campaign.  During his first term, President Johnson passed Kennedy’s endorsed bills that were drafted before he was assassinated.  The bills were tax cuts and a civil rights act, which became known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  He was re-sworn into office for his second term in office after winning the election of 1964 where he beat his opponent, Hubert Humphrey.  He won the election with 61% of American votes, which was more than 150,000,000 votes.  During his second term, he focused on building a Great Society in America.  He encouraged Americans by stating “To build a Great Society, place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor”.  Throughout his second administration, he passed more than sixty education bills, declared war on poverty, saw federal support on arts and humanities, defended urban renewal, environmental beautification and conservation, enabled development of depressed regions and pushed for control and prevention of crime and felony.  To help education he created the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which gave one billion dollars to public education, the Higher Education Act of 1968 and Bilingual Education Act of 1968.  The Head Start program was also created to help poor disadvantaged children to start/attend school.  To aid Americans who were in poverty, Johnson created the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Model Cities Program, Job Corps, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Volunteers in Service to America, and Upward Bound.  The enactment of the Medicare Amendment to the Social Security Act of 1965 gave elderly Americans medical attention.  Another health care was Medicaid, which guaranteed health care to individuals who don’t have monetary assets to pay for healthcare costs.  The Great Society also focused on civil rights, which advanced after President Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which removed poll taxes and test that presented as a barrier for African Americans to vote, and Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prevented discrimination in housing sales and rentals.  He appointed the first African American Supreme Court Justice and cabinet member, Thurgood Marshall.  The Great Society program became President Johnson’s main outline for Congress throughout his second term in office, starting from January 1965.

So What?:  After President Kennedy’s assassination, which killed the American dream, President Johnson’s Great Society program gave American citizens hope towards the future.  The Great Society increased equality among Americans.  For example, he endorsed acts such as the Model Cities Programs, which enforced urban redevelopment, Job Corps, which helped underprivileged youth develop job skills, and VISTA, which gave citizens a chance to help the poorer class overcome their poverty.  These programs gave financial equality among all Americans in the United States.  Equality among race was increased through the Civil Rights Act of 196, Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Service Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.  These civil rights acts guaranteed no job discrimination, no segregation in public, minority registration and voting abolish national-origin quotas, banned housing discrimination, extended protect to Native Americans who lived on reservations, and brought end to racial injustice.  Through the Great Society program, Americans experienced equality and fairness in society just as Johnson stated in his speech when he claimed that the programs will “enrich and elevate our national life, and [will be used] to advance the quality of our American civilization.”

Now What?:  Even though many of the programs were eliminated throughout the century, some of his programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal education funding acts are still present today.  The Food Stamp Act of 1964 was created to help fight poverty among Americans.  The Food Stamp Act gives stamps to individuals, who make a small income, which can be redeemed for food.  This program is still in effect today.  President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Medicare Law that was enacted in 1965 still influences our society today.  Johnson’s Medicare Law gave elder citizens, who were over sixty-five, healthcare stability.  Today, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, known better as Obamacare, is influenced from President Johnson’s Medicare Law.  Obama’s Affordable Care Act offers American elder seniors a range of preventive service with no cost-sharing and discounts on medicine and drugs.  This act is a reformed law that strengthens the Medicare Law of 1965.