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The KHOU-TV Collection - Billy Graham Sermon at the Astrodome (1965)

KHOU

Sound | 1965

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TAMI Tags
  •  Evangelist Billy Graham describes President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “spiritual roots” 
  •  The Johnsons and their guests listen to the service from a plush box 
  •  1,662 people responded to Graham’s invitation to come forward, according to the Associated Press 
  •  Crowds gather outside the Astrodome before the arrival of President Johnson 
  •  Graham welcomes the President, calling on the audience to “join me in pledging our loyalty to America.” President Johnson reportedly received a standing ovation. 
  •  In his sermon, Graham spoke on the “Great Judgment Day,” condemning the false idols of fortune, ambition, and entertainment. “Whether we know it or not, we are becoming more and more a secularistic nation, where man himself is becoming an idol,” he preached. “We are humanizing God and deifying man.” 
  •  Singing a hymn 
  •  Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson exit the Astrodome with Graham 
  •  The presidential motorcade departs 
  •  The President shakes hands with people lined up along the route 
  •  Boarding Air Force One 
 
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This unedited news footage from Houston’s KHOU captures scenes from a religious service led by Christian evangelist Billy Graham at the Astrodome on November 28, 1965. Graham was in Houston for a 10-day “crusade,” or evangelistic campaign. At each sermon, Graham preached the gospel and invited people to come forward to pray and accept Jesus as their savior. (Graham conducted 417 such missions between 1947 and 2005.) The Houston campaign attracted more than 380,000 people, with a crowd of 61,000 at the finale event at the Astrodome. President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson flew to Houston from the LBJ Ranch to attend. Graham was a close friend and counselor to the Johnsons, making frequent visits to the White House during the Johnson administration. In the footage, Graham preaches from a small stage. Hundreds of attendees congregate on the floor to pray together. Following the service, Graham exits the Astrodome with the Johnsons. The President shakes hands with people lined up along the motorcade route.
The digital preservation of this collection was made possible by a grant to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and the Houston Public Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
 
Many more films from the KHOU-TV Collection are available on the Houston Public Library Houston Area Digital Archives website.
Thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon B. 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. He 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 10th 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. 
 
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. As President, he 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, 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 at Austin campus. 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, 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.
Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas, on December 22, 1912. Lady Bird, the nickname given by nursemaid Alice Tittle, attended high school in Marshall and junior college at Dallas’ St. Mary’s Episcopal College for Women. From 1933 through 1934, she received a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. 
 
Mutual friends introduced Lady Bird to congressional aide and rising political star, Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ proposed on the couple’s first date and the two were married a month later on November 17, 1934. Lady Bird financed her husband’s first congressional campaign for Austin’s 10th District using a portion of her maternal inheritance. During World War II, Lady Bird ran the congressional office while LBJ served in the US Navy. In 1943, Lady Bird purchased Austin Radio station KTBC. The station proved an integral part of the LBJ Holding Company and became the main source of the Johnson family’s fortune. 
 
LBJ’s political career gained momentum in the post-war years, and in 1960, he became Vice President to 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. As First Lady, Lady Bird initiated the Society for a More Beautiful National Capitol and worked with the American Association of Nurserymen to promote the planting of wildflowers along highways. In 1964, the First Lady traveled through eight southern states aboard her train, “The Lady Bird Special,” to foster support for LBJ’s presidential reelection and the Civil Rights Act. She was influential in promoting the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, referred to as “Lady Bird’s Bill,” and the Head Start program.
 
Following the death of LBJ in 1973, Lady Bird turned her attention to Austin. The Town Lake Beautification Project transformed Austin’s downtown lake, renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007, into a useable recreation area. On December 22, 1982, Lady Bird and Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center outside of Austin. The Wildflower Center was established to increase awareness and research for North American flora. In 1977, the former First Lady received the highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1988. Lady Bird died of natural causes on July 11, 2007, survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren, and  ten great-grandchildren.