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Whatever your political persuasion—or lack thereof—the recently reimagined LBJ Presidential Library provides a colorful journey into an influential era of change.

Published in Blog

By: Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

 

Like a true Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson often drawled “y’all come see us, heah” to friends and strangers alike. One invitation in particular strengthened diplomatic ties between the United States and Pakistan and created a media flurry.

 

While on a goodwill tour of Asia in spring 1961, Johnson—then vice president—shook hands with cheering crowds, handed out pens, and offhandedly invited spectators to visit him in the United States. In Pakistan, on his way from the airport into Karachi, Johnson got out of his car, jogged alongside the motorcade, and started his customary handshaking. Spotting a barefoot man next to a camel, Johnson chatted with him through an interpreter. Naturally, the conversation ended with one of Johnson’s open-ended invitations.

 

The next day, Dawn, Karachi’s English-language newspaper, headlined the encounter and praised Johnson for reaching out to camel driver Bashir Ahmad, “the man with no shirt on his back.” U.S. Embassy officials urged Johnson to make the trip happen or else he’d look like a fool.

 

That fall, Ahmad flew to New York. Johnson whisked him away to Texas, where he stayed at the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall. During his three-day visit, the vice president showed him around the ranch, took him horseback riding, and hosted a barbecue in his honor. Ahmad charmed Americans with his eloquence and grace. “Smoother than a camel,” he remarked of his horse ride. After learning about Texas history and culture from folklorist J. Frank Dobie and historian Walter Prescott Webb, Ahmad responded: “Well-said words are like golden plums in silver bowls.”

 

On their final day together, Johnson escorted Ahmad to the Texas State Fair in Dallas, then Ahmad toured parts of Missouri before returning to Pakistan. After Ahmad returned home, Pakistani and United States officials heralded the trip as a diplomatic victory.

 

 

Published in Speaking (Archive)

President Lydon B. Johnson in 1965.

Few Texans have left a greater mark on the history of the United States than Lyndon Baines Johnson. (photographed above in 1965 at the "Texas White House.") Serving as the nation’s 36th president, from November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969, Johnson guided the country through a tumultuous era of social unrest and cultural change.

Published in History

On January 1, a year-long tribute to Lyndon Baines Johnson commences with the launching of www.LBJ100.org, a Web site that will showcase centennial events throughout Texas and in Washington, D.C. Participating Texas organizations include Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and Texas State University-San Marcos.

Published in History
LBJSam Johnson went to Austin on business one day–his home was about 50 miles west of Austin–and came back with a radio that was the talk of the town. He had paid $150 for the device. When his neighbors heard about the purchase, one commented, "Sam must have slipped a cog between his ears," or something like that, and others nodded. In those times, when most folks in the hills were struggling to wrest a mere living from the hard-scrabble soil, 150 bucks was Big Money. We're talking 1925.
Published in History
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