LBJ Carried Poor Texas Town With Him In Civil Rights Fight | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

LBJ Carried Poor Texas Town With Him In Civil Rights Fight

Play associated audio

Today Cotulla, Texas, is reaping the benefits of an oil and natural gas boom in the Eagle Ford Shale. But in 1928, the South Texas town was incredibly poor — and that's how Lyndon Johnson saw it when he had his first job there at age 20.

Long before he was president, Johnson spent a year teaching at what was known as the "Mexican school." The students were so poor, he later recalled seeing "Mexican children going through a garbage pile, shaking the coffee grounds from the grapefruit rinds and sucking the rinds for the juice that was left." Johnson used his own salary to buy volleyballs and softball bats.

Even as he later forged his civil rights legacy, he always remembered the grinding poverty of his students. He returned to Cotulla 38 years later, as president, to honor National Education Week and spoke at the same school where he used to teach.

"The children of Mexican-Americans have been taught that the end of life is a beet row, or a spinach field, or a cotton patch. So to their parents throughout the land this afternoon, we say, help us lift the eyes of our children to a greater vision of what they can do with their lives," he said.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

No Small Feat: The NBA's Shortest Player Never Gave Up

At 5 foot 3, Muggsy Bogues holds the record as shortest player in NBA history. Criticism of his height started on the basketball courts of the Baltimore projects, and continued well into his career.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ranting And Throwing Papers: An Angry Candidate Runs For Congress

State Rep. Mike Bost's rants on the Illinois House floor are the stuff viral dreams are made of. Bost says he has good reason to be upset, and wants voters to share his anger.
NPR

Israel's Solar-Powered 'Trees': For Smartphones And Community

The man-made trees are designed to create a public space where people can gather and re-charge a battery — their own and their smartphone's.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.