On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
Lyndon B. Johnson is an enigma. He was a brash, profane Texan, thought to have stolen the 1960 election for John Kennedy by stuffing the ballot box in a few strategic Texas counties. He was drummed out of running for a second term for not doing more to end the Vietnam War. And he was feared by many of those who encountered him.
At the same time, he probably attempted to do more to help African Americans than any other president, before or since. His Great Society program took the government to a new level of activism, and subsequent presidents have done little to reverse it.
While watching the video, try to keep score.
- When a president does a lot of good, but also a lot of harm, how should we evaluate him?
- Or is the role of the president more like that of a doctor, where “doing no harm” is the bedrock ethical principle of all physicians?
- Does Johnson balance out to be a good president? Why or why not?
5, April 2018, President Johnson on the phone [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <millercenter.org>.