Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson: A would-have-been reporter who protected rural landscapes

We salute Claudia Alta Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson, who died yesterday at 94. She did a lot for rural America by promoting highway beautification -- the first legislative initiative by a first lady -- and boosting the political career of a president who advanced programs that help rural people. She was the first chair of Head Start, "the early childhood education program that was a major compnent of his War on Poverty," notes Elaine Woo of the Los Angeles Times. (Read more)

She wanted to be a newspaper reporter, and placed in the top 10 of her graduating class in journalism at the University of Texas, but Lyndon Johnson prevailed. In the White House, she was often his closest adviser, and in 1964, after he signed the landmark Civil Rights Act, she corageously campaigned for his election in eight Southern states where opposition to the law was strong. A life well lived, much in our service.

Julie Ardery of the Daily Yonder pays tribute to Lady Bird, with some lovely pictures of wildflowers along the highways and these closing lines: "This April in Texas was a banner season for bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and white prickly poppy. A bold final spring for Lady Bird." To read the entire tribute, click here.

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