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The LBJ Museum of San Marcos held its annual benefit gala on Saturday inside the Grand Ballroom at the LBJ Student Center. Above, front row, left to right, Elly Del Prado Dietz; Linda Rodriguez, Vice President; Wayne Kraemer, President; Julian Castro, the gala’s guest speaker; Melissa Millecam; Ann Burnette, Secretary; and Kate Clayton. Back row, left to right, Mark Rockeymoore and Brian F. Ray, Treasurer. Photo courtesy of LBJ Museum. Below, Castro speaks to the crowd during Saturday’s gala. Daily Record photo by Nick Castillo

REFLECTING ON LBJ’S LEGACY: Julián Castro speaks at LBJ Museum’s annual benefit gala

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Julián Castro reflected upon President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s legacy and how San Marcos and Texas State University impacted Johnson’s life during the LBJ Museum’s annual benefit gala.

Castro, who previously served as the mayor of San Antonio from 2009-2014 and the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014-17 during the Obama administration, spoke to the crowd gathered inside the Grand Ballroom at Texas State University’s LBJ Student Center on Saturday.

“[Texas State was] a place that was so instrumental to the work and the promise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson,” Castro said. “A place where his passion for serving others emanated from. As many of you know, he spoke to the impact that Texas State made in his life when he visited his alma mater on November 8th, 1965. I think he visited the old gymnasium to sign the Higher Education Act … LBJ said, ‘Here the seeds were planted from which grew my firm conviction that for the individual, education is a path to achievement and fulfillment; and for the nation it is a path to a society that is not only free, but civilized; and for the world, it is a path to peace.’”

The annual gala brought together a night of food, friends and supporters of the LBJ Museum of San Marcos.

The LBJ Museum commemorates the role LBJ’s formative years as a college student and school teacher played in the landmark Great Society legislation, he passed during his time as president from November 1963-January 1969.

“Our museum highlights the college years that LBJ spent here at Texas State and how that experience shaped his politics, shaped his programs, the programs that he had with the Great Society,” LBJ Museum Board President Wayne Kraemer said. “LBJ often spoke of Professor H.M. Greene — Prof. Greene as he was known — he was his debate coach, and he often reflected on the persuasive skills that Prof. Greene instilled in him. Public advocacy, critical thinking, critical speaking are vitally important in maneuvering through this interesting political climate.”

Above, LBJ Museum of San Marcos Board President Wayne Kraemer speaks to a crowd gathered for the museum’s annual benefit gala inside the Grand Ballroom at the LBJ Student Center at Texas State University on Saturday. Daily Record photo by Nick Castillo

Luci Baines Johnson, LBJ’s daughter, spoke to the crowd through a recorded video, where she emphasized the importance of President Johnson’s time in San Marcos and at Texas State.

“It gave him the education he needed and the supporters he treasured in order to fulfill his dream to serve the public good … Lyndon Johnson had many dreams when he came to San Marcos and what is now known as Texas State,” Luci Johnson said. “His desire was to be a public servant and to make a difference for others, but especially for those of us who have the least and need the most.”

Luci Johnson said LBJ’s dreams were for elementary and higher education, healthcare, medicare, arts, the environment and space.

“His dream list was long and worthy,” Luci Johnson said. “And because of the education you provided and the friendships you consistently gave to him, he was able to make many of those dreams come true, especially in the area of civil rights in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the 1968 Fair Housing Act.”

Castro followed Luci Johnson, serving as the gala’s speaker. Castro, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and is currently an MSNBC and NBC political analyst and a Klinsky Visiting Professor for practice at Harvard Law School, highlighted the importance of education.

“It’s amazing to me to think that because of the power of education that President Johnson spoke about here at Texas State and more importantly that he worked on through his higher education act and also elementary and secondary education act and in so many other ways, just two generations after my grandmother got here with almost nothing as a seven-year-old orphan, one of her grandsons was serving in the United States Congress and the other one was serving the President of the United State and his cabinet and would eventually get to run for president himself,” Castro said. “That is the possibility of our country.”

Castro considers himself a living testament to the impact LBJ had on Americans.

“In fact, so many of the possibilities that opened up for me and for my family, and I bet for you and yours, can be traced back to the work [LBJ] did,” Castro said. “The work of the Civil Rights Act to make sure that policy was made, along with the Voting Rights Act, that it took into account needs of all communities — Black, Brown, White, Asian American, Native American, and people from different backgrounds in neighborhoods all throughout our country. The Fair Housing Act so that people no matter their background could go out there and rent or buy or get financing to get a home without discrimination. The work that he did to create better schools. The work that he did to protect our environment and also to protect consumers in our country. And I know that if we did go around the room that each and every one of you will probably have a similar story.”

Castro — reflecting upon LBJ’s legacy — told the crowd, especially those currently attending Texas State to be tenacious and opportunistic in life.

“Let the success you’ve already had propel you, assure you that no matter what life throws at you, that you can prevail. It’s a lesson that LBJ seemed to know well when he faced obstacles both personal and political, and ultimately his legacy is a testament to his self-determination and self-belief in the dream that Luci spoke of,” Castro said. “Second, be opportunistic in life. You have a vision, you have a dream but also don’t forget to listen and learn from others and to see what’s in front of you, and to think of other possibilities, and to seize opportunity that comes your way. LBJ did this in some of the most impressive ways, some of the most impactful ways in his political life.”

Castro closed his speech by asking the crowd to continue to try and make a difference in the lives of others.

“This is one of the most memorable and impactful legacies of LBJ, someone who had enormous power … but he was focused on making a difference for other people,” Castro said. “Now, I think it’s fair to say that not many of us will actually do that as President of the United States. Believe me, I know that. But you don’t have to be the president to make a profound difference in the lives of others. There are folks in this room that do that each and every day in your work in the community, in your work in the business community, in the work in nonprofits, through your churches, through volunteerism, through organizations that do good in the community.”

The LBJ Museum of San Marcos is located at 131 N. Guadalupe St. The museum is open Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666