Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”

LBJ sponsored the largest reform agenda since Roosevelt's New Deal. Following are the most important pieces of legislation.

  • The Civil Rights Act: Banned discrimination based on race and gender in employment and ended segregation in all public facilities.
  • The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964: Created the Office of Economic Opportunity aimed at attacking the roots of American poverty and established a Job Corps to provide career training.
  • Head Start: Helped disadvantaged pre-school students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.
  • The Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA): Served as a national Peace Corps. Schools in poor American regions received volunteer teaching attention. Federal funds were sent to struggling communities to attack unemployment and illiteracy.
  • The Wilderness Protection Act: Saved 9.1 million acres of forest land from industrial development.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Provided major funding for American public schools.
  • The Voting Rights Act: Banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods that prevented African Americans from voting.
  • Medicare: Offset the costs of health care for the nation's elderly.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities: Used public money to fund artists and galleries.
  • The Immigration Act: Ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
  • A Housing Act: Provided funds to build low-income housing.
  • Air and Water Quality Acts: Tightened pollution controls.
  • Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.

By 1966, Johnson had made progress in the area of civil rights, but the events in Southeast Asia became a distraction. Funds he had hoped to use for fighting poverty were spent on the Vietnam War.

Source: Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”
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