US History: The Great Society 1963 - 1968
A Disappointing Level of Greatness
The Great Society was a net of American domestic programs initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D - Texas) beginning in 1964 to erase poverty and racial injustice from our nation. How effective this net proved to be still is debated in the 21st century.
Some feel that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy near Thanksgiving of 1963 in Dallas, Texas marked the imminent decline of the United States as a leading society in the world.
Many feel that The Great Society of Kennedy's successor did not meet the needs of the people during 1964 through 1968.
92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans have not provided the relief intended.— Paul Ryan in US Budget Committee's: ""The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later (March 2014)
Democracy has no problems.— LBJ's White House, 1964 - 1968
Social Engineering and Democracy
President Lyndon Baines Johnson called for America to be a country free of racial tensions, class and race segregation, poverty, and prejudice.
He continued some of John F. Kennedy's work, but historians wonder how the former president would have proceeded had he not been assassinated in 1963 after approximately 1,000 days in office.
Evidence of Johnson's programs are seen in some of today's events and legislation, but all such social ills were not cured under his administration. In the 2010s, we still have poverty, homelessness, hunger, and some problems with healthcare.
Announcement Made in the Midwest
We declared a War on Poverty that we could not win. Johnson proclaimed the Great Society to replace John Kennedy's Camelot and New Frontier, and to further the work of Civil Rights legislation.LBJ gave a speech of such declaration at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1965 and went on to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to delineate the details of his programs for the public.
This great society plan was a continuation of former President Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism and former President Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights
Legislation of the Great Society included many laws, among them:
- Congressional Civil-Rights Act, 1964,
- The Economic Opportunity Act, 1964,
- Two education acts in 1965,
- Voting Rights Act, 1965,
- The Job Corps,
- Operation Head Start,
- Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA),
- Medicaid, and
All of these programs have continued to have both positive results and problems in America.
In fact, the high school class known as Civics until the 1950s - 1960s, became Problems of Democracy under Johnson and then experienced another name change. During these same LBJ years, the class became Principles of Democracy - because "Democracy has no problems," stated school boards across the nation.
An LBJ Presidential Timeline
- January 8, 1964. President Johnson declares America's War on Poverty.
- February. Supreme Court rules that congressional districts will be approximately equal in population.
- January through December. Leonid Brezhnev helps engineer Khrushchev's fall from power, becomes first secretary of Communist Party.
- February 1. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 2,500 protesters against voter's registration problems were arrested in Selma, Alabama. This event was documented by the dramatic films Selma in 2014, which won the Oscar for best song, GLORY, written by John Legend and Common.
- July 1. Los Angeles Riots in Watts.
- October 22. The Highway Beautification Act, was signed by the President in order to control unwanted advertising billboards on America's Interstates. New land-sculpting and landscaping began to occur at roadway interchanges and on-off ramps as well.
Watts Riots of 1965 - Urban War
The 6 Day War
- March 15. US Supreme Court reaches a decision on Miranda vs. Arizona. This leads to all arrested persons having the right to be informed of their rights immediately.
- June 5. Israel's 6 Day War ends.
- June 17. Communist China reports using its first hydrogen bomb.
- July 23. Racially motivated Riots in Detroit, NYC, and areas of Connecticut.
- October 2. First Black Supreme Court Justice was appointed and confirmed: Thurgood Marshall.
- Jan/Feb. The Tet Offensive is the turning point in the Vietnam Conflict, an undeclared war dating back to the 1940s and conflict between Viet Nam and France.
- Jan-Dec. Constant protest marches in America. Tariq Ali & Susan Watkins published 1968: Marching in the Streets.
- April 4. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated in Memphis TN. James Earl Ray is sentenced to 99 years in 1969.
- June 5-6. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is killed in a Los Angeles hotel after winning the California Primary. Sirhan B. Sirhan was convicted for this in 1969.
- June 18. The US Supreme Court banned racial discrimination in housing sales and rentals.
- July 1. USA, UK, USSR, and 58 other nations signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India refused to sign.
- July 27. A race riot occurred in Gary, Indiana.
- Jul 30, Saddam Hussein took over internal security in Iraq.
- August 8. Race riot in Miami.
- August/September. Race riots in several cities occurred during the hottest days of summer. In Columbus, Ohio the city was under curfews for 3 days.
- October 11. Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, launched.
- October 12. Mexico City Olympic Games open. Unfortunately, 300 students had been killed by the military in Mexico City weeks before the opening.
- November 12. The Supreme Court repealed an Arkansas law banning the teaching of evolution.
- Month unknown, 1968 -- The Association of Black Psychologists was founded. Glamour Magazine put a Black model on the cover for the first time. Hewlett-Packard introduced the world's first programmable scientific desktop calculator - many businesses, however, kept their old, huge, hand-cranked versions.
Humorous Milestones of 1968
Funniest Invention of the Year
Scientists crossed Pacific oysters with Kumamoto oysters and got the Gigomoto oyster. Instead of the best traits of both oysters the unfortunate researchers got the combined worst traits of both.
Funniest Startup of the Year
China established a research center for manned space flight to open in 1973, but canceled it, because of lack of money and political support.
Funniest Weather of the Year
In Mexico there rained hundreds of thousands of maggots on Acapulco, the vacation capital.
Funniest Political Commentary on TV
That was the Week that Was and Laugh In.
Cold War Timeline During the Great Society
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS