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Freedom's PragmatistLyndon Johnson and Civil Rights$
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Sylvia Ellis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044569

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044569.001.0001

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Formative Experiences

Formative Experiences

Childhood and Early Career

(p.9) 1 Formative Experiences
Freedom's Pragmatist

Sylvia Ellis

University Press of Florida

This chapter discusses how Lyndon Johnson's family, his Texas Hill Country, and his early experiences shaped his racial attitudes. It explores LBJ's relationship with the values and people of the South and his public and private responses to racial prejudice and discrimination. It covers LBJ's childhood in rural Texas, his first exposure to the Ku Klux Klan, his time as a teacher of poor Mexican American students, and his early political career--first as an aide to Congressman Kleberg and then as director of the Texas National Youth Administration (NYA). Working on NYA projects provided Johnson with the opportunity to help support African Americans in Texas during the economic trials of the Great Depression, although the conservatism of much of the state meant that his efforts were often covert. Nevertheless, by the time he was elected congressman for the Tenth District in Central Texas in May 1937, he had established a reputation among African Americans in Texas and Washington D.C. as a New Dealer and a liberal on race.

Keywords:   Texas Hill Country, Ku Klux Klan, New Deal, Mexican Americans, National Youth Administration, Congress

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