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Ghost Canyon

'JFK & LBJ: A Time for Greatness'
(Morgan Freeman / DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: In many ways, President Lyndon B. Johnson was the most unlikely champion of Civil Rights. But his actions in the White House told a different story when he dared to champion two laws that changed America and the world the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, fifty years later, 'JFK & LBJ: A Time for Greatness' sheds light on the fascinating story of a president who knew how to harness the nation's grief over John F. Kennedy's assassination, twist arms, and get his way.

DVD Verdict: For many, President Lyndon B. Johnson is chiefly remembered for escalating the United States military involvement in Vietnam. But his legacy is much more than his role in the Vietnam War. In fact, Johnson engineered the passing of two of the most important laws Congress ever approved: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which President Kennedy fought so hard, and avidly for), and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6th, 1965, 'JFK & LBJ: A Time for Greatness' airing nationally (check local listings), examines how Johnson meticulously worked behind the scenes to outwit the Southern segregationists who were determined to maintain the racial divide. He cajoled, flattered, wheeled and dealed, using all the tricks he had learned as a long-serving Senator, to ultimately transform America.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, ''JFK & LBJ is from the team that produced 'JFK: OnePM Central Standard Time' which aired on PBS in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The dramatic events are told through rare archival footage and reenactments with actor Mark Murphey as Johnson and Dené Hill as Geraldine Whittington, who Johnson hired, the first African American secretary to the President.

'JFK & LBJ' details how the Selma to Montgomery marches coupled with Johnson’s historic, nationally televised “We Shall Overcome” speech before a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, led to the passage of the Voting Rights bill protecting the rights of minorities. As it is said, or even leaned into throughout the 96 minutes, what would have happened if the bill hadn't have passed and segregation had still been the norm at that time?

This incredible documentary chronicles Johnson’s extraordinary moral journey through interviews with those closest to him and those involved in these historical events, including Senior Presidential Aide Joseph Califano, Civil Rights adviser Harris Wofford, and principal speechwriter Richard Goodwin (the man who penned Johnson’s famous ‘We shall overcome’ speech).

Also featured in the program are former CBS News correspondent Roger Mudd, who was sent to cover the Civil Rights debate each day; historian and Johnson biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin; author Todd Purdum (An Idea Whose Time Has Come); U.S. Rep. John Lewis; and Johnson’s daughter Luci Baines Johnson. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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