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Tag: LBJ

On exhibit: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Today’s post comes from Darlene McClurkin, National Archives Exhibits staff member.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The original resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.

Fifty years ago, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution marked a major turning point in the Cold War struggle for Southeast Asia. Passage of the resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authority to expand the scope of U.S. involvement in Vietnam without a declaration of war.

By 1964, Vietnam had been torn by international and civil war for decades. U.S. military support for South Vietnam had grown to some 15,000 military advisers, while the North received military and financial aid from China and the Soviet Union.

In a late-night televised address on August 4, 1964, President Johnson announced that he had ordered retaliatory air strikes on the North Vietnamese in response to reports of their attacks earlier on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

He then asked Congress to pass a resolution stressing that “our Government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom and in defense of peace in southeast Asia.”

The resolution stated that “Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary … [ Read all ]

Now On Display: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Today’s post comes from David Steinbach, intern in the National Archives History Office.

On July 2, 1964, with Martin Luther King, Jr., directly behind him, President Lyndon Johnson scrawled his signature on a document years in the making—the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.

The first and the signature pages of the act will be on display at the National Archives Rubenstein Gallery in Washington, DC, until September 17, 2014. These 50-year-old sheets of paper represent years of struggle and society’s journey toward justice.

The most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era, the Civil Right Act finally gave the Federal Government the means to enforce the promises of the 13th,  14th, and 15th Amendments. The act prohibited discrimination in public places, allowed the integration of public facilities and schools, and forbade discrimination in employment.

But such a landmark congressional enactment was by no means achieved easily. Indeed, developments within the civil rights movement were critical in motivating the bill’s movement through Congress. The push for legislation accelerated in May 1963, when nightly news broadcasts displayed footage of Eugene “Bull” Connor cracking down on demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama.

In this atmosphere, President John F. Kennedy demanded a strong civil rights bill in a national address on June 11: “The heart of the question is whether all Americans … [ Read all ]

Reflections on LBJ and Civil Rights

Mark K. Updegrove is Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

The first time a sitting President came to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library was on May 21, 1971, when President Richard Nixon boarded Air Force One and journeyed to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin to help former President Johnson dedicate the library to the American people.

It had been a little more than two years since Johnson had yielded the Oval Office to Nixon, and Johnson’s place in history was very much in the balance.

The war in Vietnam that Johnson had escalated and that continued to divide the nation hung balefully over his legacy. This, despite the profusion of landmark laws LBJ left in his wake, including the passage of a triumvirate of seminal civil rights legislation: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

As library’s inauguration played out, the voices of 2,100 Vietnam protesters rumbled in the distance, their chants of “No more war!” carried by 25-mile-an-hour winds that swirled throughout the day.

On April 10, 2014, when Barack Obama became the second sitting President to visit the LBJ Library, the weather, which topped out at 88 degrees, was far less tempestuous—and Lyndon Johnson’s legacy had become far clearer.

The President had come to … [ Read all ]

Celebrating a commitment to civil rights at the Johnson Presidential Library

Throughout the month of April, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library will be exhibiting four cornerstone documents of civil rights. The “Cornerstones of Civil Rights” exhibit will run from April 1 through 30.

The exhibit will feature two documents signed by President Abraham Lincoln: an authorized, printed edition of the Emancipation Proclamation; and a copy of the Senate resolution proposing the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.  

It will also include two documents signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965These are the four “cornerstone” documents on which modern civil rights legislation is enacted.

The exhibit links Lincoln and Johnson as two great civil rights champions in the nation’s history. Their conviction, commitment, and force of will to secure equal rights for all fundamentally changed American society.

In the exhibit are two hats owned and worn by the two Presidents—a Resistol beaver cowboy hat that accentuated Johnson’s Texas roots, and one of Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hats.

The exhibit coincides with the Civil Rights Summit, this year’s premiere event of a multi-year anniversary celebration of President Johnson’s prodigious legislative legacy running from April 8 to 10.

The Summit will feature reflections on the seminal nature of the civil rights legislation passed by President Johnson while examining civil rights issues in America and around the world today. President … [ Read all ]

American Archives Month: Regina Greenwell, Johnson Presidential Library

We are continuing to celebrate American Archives Month by showcasing the work of our Presidential Libraries archivists. This edition takes us to Austin, TX.

Name: Regina Borders Greenwell

Occupation: Senior Archivist at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?

Thirty-seven years, since March 1976. Prior to coming to the library, I worked at NARA for an additional two years. I’ll have my 40th anniversary this December.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

I’ve always had a love of history, and particularly presidential history. As a 13-year-old, I persuaded my parents to let me go downtown and see President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade when he came to Dallas on November 22, 1963. I saw him just minutes before the assassination.

I later majored in history at the University of Texas. When my husband got an engineering job in Washington, DC, after graduation, I learned that the Archives was gearing up for a new declassification effort headed up by Alan Thompson. I was lucky enough to get the job, and worked with some great collections covering Army intelligence. Later, I was detailed to work with the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s Office with Nixon materials, which was a fascinating experience. That led to a job with the Johnson Library when we moved back to Austin, and I’ve been here ever since.

What are some of [ Read all ]