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Remarks Upon Signing the Civil Rights Act, April 11, 1968
LBJ Library & MuseumSound | 1968
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On April 11th, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 – also known as the Fair Housing Act – into law. In his broadcasted comments President Johnson describes the bill as another important step forward in the cause of Civil Rights. The bill signing took place a week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. whose memory President Johnson invokes in his speech. In addition to President Johnson's comments and imagery of the President signing the bill, this footage also features voiceover by Dan Rather, from CBS News, providing commentary on the occasion, describing the provisions and prohibitions of the bill, and naming the recipients of the signing pens.
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.
Dan Rather is a journalist best known for anchoring the CBS Evening News. He has won several Emmys and Peabody Awards for his contributions to the field of journalism.
Rather was born Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. on October 31, 1931 in Wharton, Texas to Byrl Veda Page and Daniel Sr., a pipeline worker. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Houston, where Rather grew up. He attended Sam Houston State University, where he worked for the school newspaper and a local radio station, and he also reported for the Associated Press, United Press, and the Houston Chronicle. The mass communications building at Sam Houston State was renamed in his honor in 1994.
After earning a degree in journalism in 1953, Rather planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps, but because he had rheumatic fever as a child, he was discharged. In 1954, he began reading the morning news on KTRH, a Houston-based radio station. For the next few years, he worked his way up until he became a reporter for KTRK and then KHOU, both Houston television stations.
In 1961, Rather’s thorough coverage of Hurricane Carla for KHOU earned him a promotion to CBS News correspondent. His reporting on President Kennedy’s assassination led him to become a White House correspondent and a foreign correspondent in London and Vietnam. In the early 1970s, Rather reported on the CBS Sunday Night News, CBS Reports, and 60 Minutes. When Walter Cronkite retired in 1981, Rather took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, where he remained for 24 years.
When he left CBS after 43 years, Rather began a weekly show called Dan Rather Reports. He also contributes to other programs, such as The Daily Show, and runs an independent company called News and Guts Media. He and his wife Jean Goebel have been married since 1957. They have two children, Robin and Dan, and have homes in New York City and Austin.