Celebrate Presidents Day with LBJ
Presidents Day, celebrated the third Monday in February, is a day to remember past American leaders, and perhaps also find a good sale. Officially known as Washington’s Birthday, the federal holiday was created by an Act of Congress in 1879 to commemorate the nation’s first president, George Washington, who was born Feb. 22, 1732.
We’ll expand our observance today and remember President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a member of the Texas State University class of 1930. The following notable quotes are from speeches made by Johnson, both before and after he became president of the United States in 1963.
Remarks at Gettysburg, Pa., on civil rights
May 30, 1963
Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact. To the extent that the proclamation of emancipation is not fulfilled in fact, to that extent we shall have fallen short of assuring freedom to the free.
Address to a joint session of Congress
March 15, 1965
Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child. I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance — and I’ll let you in on a secret — I mean to use it.
My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.
Remarks at the University of Michigan
May 22, 1964
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.
Remarks upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
July 2, 1964
We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment. We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights. We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings — not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin.
State of the Union
January 4, 1965
We must make a massive effort to save the countryside and to establish — as a green legacy for tomorrow — more large and small parks, more seashores and open spaces than have been created during any other period in our national history.
Remarks at the Howard University Commencement
June 4, 1965
So, it is the glorious opportunity of this generation to end the one huge wrong of the American Nation and, in so doing, to find America for ourselves, with the same immense thrill of discovery which gripped those who first began to realize that here, at last, was a home for freedom.
Address to Congress
February 10, 1966
Hunger poisons the mind. It saps the body. It destroys hope. It is the natural enemy of every man on earth. I propose that the United States lead the world in a war against hunger..
January 20, 1965
We have discovered that every child who learns, and every man who finds work, and every sick body that is made whole — like a candle added to an altar — brightens the hope of all the faithful.
Ours is a time of change — rapid and fantastic change–bearing the secrets of nature, multiplying the nations, placing in uncertain hands new weapons for mastery and destruction, shaking old values and uprooting old ways.
Voting Rights Address to Congress
March 15, 1965
Rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved Nation.
To deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy.
Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right.
This is one nation. Let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists.
I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election.