In his second State of the Union address, President Johnson called on Americans to continue on the “road to the great society,” proposing a sweeping national agenda from education reforms to a war on deadly diseases to a campaign against pollution. He declared his support for civil rights, specifically the right to vote.
In his 1965 State of the Union address, President Johnson called on Americans to continue on the “road to the great society,” proposing a sweeping national agenda from education reforms to a war on deadly diseases to a campaign against pollution. He declared his support for civil rights, specifically the right to vote and the enforcement of civil rights laws providing “opportunity for all.” In this lesson, students will explore several key pieces of legislation that address some of the issues from the 1960s and their relevance today.
Students may take notes on the accompanying handout as they view the video clips in this lesson.
Handout: LBJ's Great Society (Google Doc)
View the video below as a class, or on individual devices, to provide a foundation for some of the programs President Johnson discusses in his 1965 State of the Union address. Engage in class discussion to provide context for the programs that will be addressed in the videos in this lesson.
Video Clip 1: President Johnson: 1965 State of the Union Address (5:15)
Divide students into groups to view this collection of videos that discuss several of the programs that emerged as part of the Great Society plan. Students can take notes to record key points of the programs. When they have finished watching their video, students can discuss the accompanying questions with their group members or partner and be prepared to share their responses during whole class discussion.
Video Clip 2: Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (5:33)
Video Clip 3: Medicare and Medicaid Acts of 1965 (5:41)
Video Clip 4: Omnibus Housing Act of 1965 (5:38)
Video Clip 5: Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 (7:31)
Video Clip 6: Air Quality Act of 1967 (6:29)
Video Clip 7: War on Poverty (6:25)
Video Clip 8: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (5:30)
Video Clip 9: Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 (7:45)
After students have viewed the videos and responded to the related questions with their groups or partner, have each group explain the key points of their program.
Have students reflect on the following statement and determine its validity:
The programs that were enacted as part of the Great Society were critical for the development of the U.S.
Students can present their opinions using evidence from the programs that were highlighted in this lesson.
Have students consider the relevance of the programs today. Have the issues that were addressed changed?
Your Great Society: As a class, generate a list of issues in students' communities that they feel should be addressed. Ask them to choose an issue, form a position and propose solutions. Students should present their positions in a creative way:
Create an Instagram story that illustrates your issue, reasoning and solution.
Design an ad that includes facts and illustrations of your issue to generate awareness.