During the past week, I've visited two very different venues - Blanton Museum of Art in Austin and the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. I was drawn to the art museum for its "Witness" exhibit, "a look at the '60s civil rights movement through art". This touring exhibit was as diverse as Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol pieces to a half-century old video of Nina Simone singing "Mississippi Goddam" about the racially-based murders in the South. While the art was all new to me, I was surprised at how much of the angst of the time period was in my memory bank given that I was 7-12 years old at the time.
A few days later, I was feeling city fatigued, and decided to take a road trip out to hill country to the LBJ Ranch. While I thought this would be an interesting hour or two, I literally spent 6 hours between Johnson City (founded by LBJ's cousin in the 1800's) and the ranch, 15 miles further west in Stonewall. Besides the physical beauty of the 600+ acres of property, and touring the "Texas White House", I was (again) immersed in the history of the period. My impression of LBJ was the man who was the "Vietnam President"; the guy from Texas who took over when our beloved Kennedy was shot. I had no idea that he was quite liberal and wanted to build "a Great Society" by fighting poverty and discrimination; nor that the Acts passed during his time were pro-education, arts, and wilderness protection. I was a bit stunned by my long-held impressions of this man.
Strangely, in this day of 24/7 media, I was also taken by an audio display. Between 1963 and 1969, LBJ secretly recorded roughly 800 hours of telephone conversations. At this display, you can listen to actual conversations he had with Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nixon, and many others. No PR; simply conversations about major issues of the time.
FYI ... click on first photo to enlarge as slideshow & to read captions.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover