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The President, April 1968

LBJ Library & Museum

Sound | 1968

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  •  Johnson delivers a speech that announces both the halting of Vietnam air strikes and his decision not to seek another presidential nomination 
  •  Hanoi responds to the US proposal to cease bombing raids 
  •   LBJ stops by the UN building to meet with Secretary General U Thant 
  •  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated 
  •  Walter Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield, Reverand Walt Fauntroy, Whitney Young, John McCormack, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Bayard Rustin meet with the President to discuss violence in cities 
  •  President Johnson visits Camp David to spend some time reviewing the war in Vietnam 
  •  The Civil Rights Act of 1968 
  •  At home in Texas for Easter weekend, featuring play time with the grandchildren 
  •  The President flies to Hawaii to meet South Korean president Chung Hee Park and discuss US affairs in Asia 
  •  A conference with former President Dwight Eisenhower on Asian affairs 
  •  President and Lady Bird Johnson welcome foreign diplomats to the White House 
  •  Johnson signs a bill giving the citizens of Washington, D.C. the right to elect their own school board 
 
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This film, produced by the Naval Photographic Center, captures the activities of President Lyndon B. Johnson in April 1968. March had ended with President Johnson’s significant announcement that he would not seek reelection, and though April began slowly it would be a month that would shake the nation and the world. Peace talks with Vietnam seemed on the horizon as President Johnson met with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (in what would be their last formal meeting), but the month’s progress was brought to a tragic climax on April 4, 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the wake of the assassination, riots raged across the nation as President Johnson called for calm. Yet the month moved on, with President Johnson conducting affairs of state such as meeting with President Chung Hee Park of South Korea and Chancellor Klaus of Austria. It was also the month that saw President Johnson sign the historic Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. Noteworthy in this footage are not only President Johnson’s reactions to tragedy, but also more human moments such as him playing with his grandson.
Thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was born on a hill country farm near Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908, to Samuel Ealy Johnson, a former Texas legislator, and Rebekah Baines Johnson. He attended Southwest Teachers College, now Texas State University, graduating with a degree in history and social science in 1930. LBJ spent one year as principal and teacher in Cotulla, educating impoverished Hispanic elementary school students. LBJ became the secretary to Texas Congressman Richard M. Kleberg in 1931; the four-year position helped him gain influential contacts in Washington. Johnson married Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor on November 17, 1934.
 
LBJ acted as Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas from 1935 to 1937. Johnson won his first legislative election in 1937 for the Tenth Congressional District, a position he held for 11 years. He was a firm supporter of President Roosevelt’s New Deal and in 1940 acted as Chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee. In 1948, following his service as a Lieutenant Naval Commander during World War II, LBJ ran as the Democratic nominee for Senate. In a cloud of controversy, he narrowly defeated former Texas Governor Coke Stevens and easily beat his Republican opponent in the general election. Before winning his second senate term, LBJ was elected Majority Whip in 1951, became the youngest ever Minority Senate Leader in 1953, and was voted Majority Leader in 1954. Johnson unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 but was selected to be Vice President under John F. Kennedy. 
 
Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, and won reelection in 1964. President Johnson passed landmark legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Debate over military efforts in Vietnam intensified in late 1963 when the President stated that the United States would not withdraw from Southeast Asia. Escalation of the war against North Vietnam brought disapproval from Democrats, claiming the efforts were misguided, and from Republicans who criticized the administration for not executing sufficient military vigor. Antiwar protests, urban riots, and racial tension eroded Johnson’s political base by 1967, which further dissolved following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that we would not seek a second presidential term.
 
After returning to Texas, Johnson oversaw the construction of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Throughout his political career, LBJ was an influential figure in Texas affairs; his policies brought military bases, crop subsidies, government facilities, and federal jobs to the state. After suffering a massive heart attack, former President Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973. In February of the same year, NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, in honor of one of the country’s most influential Texans. 
TFC
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