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Mrs. LBJ at Fiesta, Starts Texas Tour at San Antonio Fete

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Sound | 1966

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  •  Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson 
  •  Representative Henry B. Gonzalez 
 
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  • About the video
  • Fiesta San Antonio Fiesta San Antonio
  • Lady Bird Johnson Lady Bird Johnson
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April 1, 1966 - Recovering from the flu, Mrs. Johnson starts on a tour from the White House to learn more about vast Lone Star reaches and makes her start at a Light Fiesta in San Antonio, turning on a new system of illumination to light the river that runs through the city. The San Antonio Fiesta de las Luminarias was the first event of Lady Bird Johnson's visit to Texas, the entirety of which is documented in the film Trails Through Texas.
Fiesta San Antonio is an annual event that celebrates the heroes of the Texas Revolution and San Antonio's local culture. Fiesta began as a one parade event with the first Battle of Flowers Parade in 1891. The Battle of Flowers parade includes elaborate floats and an actual battle of flowers, where blossoms are thrown in lieu of ammunition, in front of the Alamo. The parade is held in honor of the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, held on or during the week of April 21, the day Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. Fiesta San Antonio grew to include balls, parties, a carnival, and a coronation - crowning a queen, a princess, 24 duchesses, and King Antonio. It eventually evolved into its present day, 10-day celebration that features over 100 events, including three major parades, one of which takes place on the San Antonio River Walk where the floats actually "float." Fiesta San Antonio's festivities have come to celebrate not only the Texas Revolution, but also San Antonio's rich, diverse culture and heritage.
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. In 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 Tenth 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 re-election 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 Hays founded the National Wildflower Research Center outside of Austin. The Wildflower Center was established to increase awareness and research for North American flora.  During her lifetime, the former first lady received the highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977 and 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.