Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society” Speech
Note: Not all document questions require this long of a response.
1.1 What are the various definitions LBJ gives to the term “Great Society”?
· A place of abundance and liberty for all
· An end to poverty and racial injustice
· A place where every child can find knowledge to enrich her/his mind and enlarge talents
· A place where leisure is a time to build and reflect, not a cause of boredom/restlessness
· A place where cities serve needs of the body and the demands of commerce as well as the need for beauty and community
· A renewal of contact with nature
· A people who honor creation for what it adds to life
· People who are more concerned with quality of life than quantity of goods
· A place where people are constantly renewed and challenged
1.2 What does he mean by saying that “your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether” or not the Great Society will occur in the United States?
· Caring citizens should use imagination to find creative ways to implement the Society
· Citizens’ initiative means they will take action to achieve the Great Society’s goals
· Citizens’ indignation over the situation of impoverished, uneducated children, of the violated natural environment, etc. will spur them to action
2.1 In his discussion of America’s cities, what significant problems did LBJ identify, both in the present and near future?
· City size was constantly increasing and would continue to do so over the next 50 years; as a result, there was a need to build quality roads and housing
· Decay of city centers
· Despoiling of the suburbs
· Not enough housing or transportation
· Loneliness, boredom, and indifference brought on by the loss of neighbors and nature
· Open land vanishing, landmarks eroded
2.2 What remedies did he proscribe?
· A frontier of imagination and innovation to remedy the current issues
· New experiments
· Effort on the part of the current and future generations
3. What problem does LBJ decry within the countryside, and what direct results does he foresee from this overarching dilemma?
· Environmental decay
· Polluted water, food and air
· Overcrowded parks, overburdened seashores
· Disappearing fields and forests
· Need to prevent an “ugly America”; beauty and nature necessary to man’s spirit
4.1 How does LBJ drive home his point about the inadequacy of American primary and secondary education?
· He uses statistics: 8 million Americans had only 5 years of schooling, less than 20 million finished 8 years, 54 million (one-fourth of the nation) never graduated from high school, 100,000 high school grads who qualified couldn’t attend college due to lack of funds
· Points out that classrooms are already overcrowded and curricula outdated
· Underpaid and underqualified teachers
4.2 What improvements does he recommend to rectify the situation?
· Give every child a seat and a teacher
· Provide better teacher training
· Explore new techniques to stimulate a love of learning and creation
· Create working groups at the White House, channel knowledge from all over the world