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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Lady Bird Johnson, Hidden No More

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0418
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 Julia Sweig

Lady Bird Johnson’s complex and captivating role—as a political partner to her husband, as a vital yet underappreciated presence in the White House, and as a critical advisor and strategist—is revealed in Julia Sweig’s new biography of the first lady. The story is told in Lady Bird’s own words through the largely unknown audio diaries that she kept during her five-plus years as first lady. They were hiding in plain sight at the LBJ Library, much like Lady Bird herself did at the White House.

Sweig’s portrait reveals a formidable storyteller and historian, and a conscious creator of legacy. In Johnson’s narration of key moments of American history, she powerfully brings to life the events that defined the ’60s—the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, and the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement.

In conversation with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation magazine, Sweig discusses several revelations she uncovered, including the role Lady Bird played in announcing that LBJ would not run for reelection (a decision she had orchestrated beginning four years earlier), and the lengths to which LBJ went in his attempt to be relieved of his presidential duties in 1965. She also shares Lady Bird’s crucial role in environmental policy-making, which went beyond flowers planted along highways. Her “beautification” project actually brought civil rights, the environment, and social justice together—most crucially in American cities like Washington, D.C. 

Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight (Random House) is available for purchase.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.