Distinguished Alumnus′ legacy
remains strong at Texas State
Lyndon Baines Johnson, a graduate of the Southwest Texas State Teachers College class of 1930, was the 36th president of the United States, and the only commander-in-chief to graduate from a Texas university. He was also the first individual to be honored with the Texas State University Distinguished Alumni Award, in 1959.
Born Aug. 27, 1908, Johnson grew up in a small farmhouse in the Hill Country town of Johnson City. He learned first-hand the hardships and struggles of the poor; his upbringing helped shape his Great Society ideas, which were aimed at attacking the roots of poverty in the United States.
Johnson graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924 at the age of 15. Three years later, he enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and in 1930 he received his bachelor of science in history, as well as a permanent teaching certificate.
He was appointed secretary to U.S. Rep. Richard Kleberg in 1931. In 1936, Johnson won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1948 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1960, he was elected vice president, as running mate to John F. Kennedy. Johnson succeeded to the presidency when Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, and won re-election in 1964.
While president, Johnson returned to the Texas State campus to sign the Higher Education Act of 1965, which provided financial assistance and other resources for students pursuing post-secondary and higher education.
In fact, Johnson returned to the Texas State campus throughout his life, including the years after he left Washington. He died on Jan. 22, 1973, and is buried in the Johnson family cemetery at the LBJ Ranch.
- Johnson was elected majority leader of the Senate in 1955. During his tenure, he served as chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, Democratic Steering Committee and Democratic Conference of the Senate.
- As leader of the Senate, Johnson successfully worked for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first civil rights bill in 82 years.
- As running mate to John F. Kennedy, Johnson was elected vice president of the United States on Nov. 6, 1960.
- On Nov. 22, 1963, Johnson became the 36th president of the United States following Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.
- On July 2, 1964, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a televised ceremony at the White House. The far-reaching law included provisions to protect the right to vote, guarantee access to public accommodations, and withhold federal funds from programs administered in a discriminatory fashion.
- Johnson returned to the Texas State campus to sign the Higher Education Act of 1965, which provided financial assistance and other resources for students pursuing post-secondary and higher education.
- Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited states from establishing voting qualifications or standards in a way that resulted in denial of the right to vote on account of race.
- Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1967. Marshall was the first African-American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.
Learn more about the life and legacy of President Johnson at the LBJ Student Center on campus, the LBJ Museum of San Marcos, the LBJ National Historic Park and LBJ State Park in nearby Johnson City, and through Texas State’s LBJ scholarships and LBJ Outstanding Senior Award.
Compiled by Britney Munguia