How great was the Great Society? A view from 2020

Lady Bird Johnson reading to children in school

National Archives

How great was the Great Society? A view from 2020

Kevin Gaines, Guian McKee, Julian Zelizer, Melody Barnes (moderator)

Thursday, January 16, 2020
11:00AM - 12:15PM (EST)
Event Details

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This event celebrates the launch of a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded podcast series and national public radio documentary, in oral history form, on Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. The conversation will be recorded and edited to create the final episode in the podcast. The project will be distributed by PRX, a leading player in the rapidly expanding public media world. Through the recollections of those who were there when this history was made, the series will seek to shed light on how Lyndon Johnson was able to pass a legislative program of the magnitude of the Great Society. The venture is modeled on LBJ’s War, which told the story of Johnson's ruinous entanglement in Vietnam through the same archival materials, including the LBJ Library's oral history collection and the phone calls curated and annotated in the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program.

Thursday, January 16, 2020
11:00AM - 12:15PM (EST)
The Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Kevin Gaines

Kevin Gaines

Kevin K. Gaines is the Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice, with a joint appointment in the University of Virginia's Corcoran Department of History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies. The new professorship was created to honor the legacy of Bond, the civil rights champion and former University of Virginia professor. Gaines’ current research is on the problems and projects of racial integration in the United States during and after the civil rights movement. 

He is author of Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture During the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), which was awarded the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Book Prize. His book, American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era (UNC Press, 2006), was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Gaines is a past president of the American Studies Association (2009-10). 

His current research is on the integrationist projects of African American activists, artists and intellectuals, interventions that redefined blackness and acknowledged the relationship of structural and ideological forms of racism to racial capitalism, patriarchy, and homophobia.

Guian McKee headshot

Guian McKee

McKee is an associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center and the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in PhiladelphiaHe is currently working on a book that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II. He has written extensively about urban policy, including a book that explored the connections between local and federal economic, urban renewal, and antipoverty policies in Philadelphia between the 1950s and the 1980s, and has done extensive work on the Lyndon Johnson White House recordings focused on the War on Poverty, as well as on the wider development of the Great Society.

Julian Zelizer headshot

Julian Zelizer

Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. Among other works, he is the author of Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security—From World War II to the War on Terrorism (2010), Jimmy Carter (2010), and Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (2010). His most recent book is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society (2015). In addition to his scholarly articles and book chapters, Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics.

Melody Barnes headshot

Melody Barnes (moderator)

Barnes is co-director for policy and public affairs for the Democracy Initiative, an interdisciplinary teaching, research, and engagement effort led by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is a professor of practice at the Miller Center and distinguished fellow at the UVA School of Law. During the administration of President Barack Obama, Barnes was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She was also executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee.