Friday, October 07, 2005

Lyndon Baines Johnson won in 1964

Let us start off with an exploration of my year of birth by talking a bit about Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Though I was born in 1964, I wasn't very cognizant of what was happening during the year. It might be that I had just been born. In March. Though I didn't get out of the orphanage until September 1964. But we'll talk about that a little later.

The last year of the Baby Boomers found us having just gone through a rough 1963, I'm told. Folks were walking around in a daze after suffering from the assasination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 24, 1963, the day after Doctor Who premiered on the BBC in the United Kingdom. So, one day you have a far-reaching, mindbending telly program happening in the U.K., and the next day, the somewhat liberal, and future-thinking President is getting murdered in the U.S on the telly. As things in life go, this little metaphor actually defines the forty+ years that follows it: brave steps in the mind's imagination juxtaposed against many steps backward in the political life of the imagination. And both played out on the telly as well.

And then we head into the Johnson years, beginning in 1960 when he became Vice-President, but starting really in 1964, when he won the Presidency in his own right against Goldwater.

Oy.

Both good and bad times the Johnson years were. They were very turbulent, as the country was literally wrassling with itself about the direction in which it would head. Into this year I was born.

Johnson did more for Negroes (called such at the time) during his Presidency since Truman's integration of the military in 1948, possibly Roosevelt's New Deal in certain respects, and certainly, Lincoln's freeing of the slaves. As my African-American adoptive parents can tell you, being black in America was not an easy proposition. At least Johnson did right, mostly, for blacks and the poor. He did try. He left behind his Dixiecrat roots and dared to move forward.

But then there's the other side of his legacy. The Vietnam War, inherited from the French and Kennedy, and brimmng with America's obsession toward Communism. And that was the worse shit ever.

But in 1964, I didn't know any of this. I was born in March and didn't leave the orphanage until September. But I wouldn't find out about any of that until 1996.

2 comments:

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Red Tory said...

Talk about shocking! It's difficult to get over that red/blue map from 1964 that you posted. Amazing how the political dynamic has changed since then. My memories of LBJ and America around that time are vague. Most related to the Vietnam War and seeing riot scenes on TV and disturbing pictures in magazines of a country that was in utter turmoil. On the whole, it seemed like a very scary place!