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Texas Matters: LBJ's Neglected Legacy

LBJ Presidential Library
public domain

It was 50 years ago this week that President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act.


The law that sought to end the Jim Crow practice of blocking African Americans from the voting booth. It was later expanded to include Latinos in Texas.

The Voting Rights Act is just part of a battery of civil rights reforms and anti-poverty laws that LBJ was responsible for. Yet some still wonder about what Johnson’s legacy will be as the passage of time brings new filters to examine his record of accomplishments and failures.

Professor Robert Wilson is Dean at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. He has authored or edited 13 books, including LBJ’s “Neglected Legacy: How Lyndon Johnson Reshaped Domestic Policy and  Government.”

Johnson’s Great Society encompassed a wide range of domestic policy initiatives, and many have been studied in depth—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Community Action Program—but the longer-term impact of his presidency on American politics and governmental institutions has received less scholarly attention.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi