Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency

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What was Johnson's role in the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society?

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President Johnson played a critical role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the development of the Great Society programs. When John F. Kennedy was President, he had little success in getting a civil rights bill passed. Kennedy didn’t have the same support and leverage with Congress that Johnson had. Kennedy didn’t campaign for Democrats running for office in the election of 1960, so he had few favors to call in from elected officials, especially on civil rights bills that were considered controversial at the time. Johnson, however, knew how to work with Congress and had many favors owed to him by other elected officials. President Johnson insisted that the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a way to honor the legacy of President Kennedy.

President Johnson developed the blueprint for the Great Society programs. He wanted to be viewed in the same positive manner that Franklin D. Roosevelt was viewed when it came to helping people by developing government programs. Therefore, President Johnson helped to develop various programs to help those in need. These programs included the Medicare and the Medicaid programs, which provided health insurance to the elderly and the poor. The Head Start program was also one of Johnson’s Great Society programs. This gave disadvantaged kids a chance to start school early. The Voting Rights Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act were other examples of Great Society programs that helped people. The Great Society tried to make life better for those who were disadvantaged or mistreated in life.

President Johnson was responsible for getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, and the Great Society programs launched.

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