The District had long been crumbling as poverty and racial tensions ate away at its neighborhoods and Lady Bird believed such improvements could only help the population. Taking Her Mission Nationwide Lady Bird and her husband had driven many times from their home in Texas to Washington, DC, and had been frustrated by the increasing number of junkyards and billboards along the way. Copyright All Rights Reserved.
Lady Bird wanted the highways clear of billboards and junkyards, and filled with green landscaping and wildflowers. Even Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird's declared role model, had not sat in on a legislative strategy session or been given assignments to influence Congressional votes. Lyndon Johnson, however, supported Lady Bird's efforts and they appeared to be his own, promoting her projects in his State of the Union speeches or during Cabinet meetings. It has also been one of the most poignant and grave. He described one of his programs as "an attempt to motivate the children, youths, adults and family units in a long-range program of self-involvement for enhancing the physical appearance of the community. The District had long been crumbling as poverty and racial tensions ate away at its neighborhoods and Lady Bird believed such improvements could only help the population. Lady Bird believed that a cleaner, more beautiful country could calm people and bring them together. Many philanthropists earmarked their donations with specific locations in mind. Lady Bird herself saw her conservation and beautification work as deeply interwoven with President Johnson's Great Society agenda. In , Congress had passed a highway bill that gave states an extra half percent in funding if they controlled billboards, but the incentive appeared ineffectual in stopping highways from being blanketed with billboards. Lady Bird also saw her beautification projects as helping soothe the nation at a time when the Vietnam war, civil rights and other highly charged political topics fomented division. Some believed that money should be channeled towards high traffic areas and places where tourists spent the most time. Lady Bird supported the two camps and allowed them to operate separately. He was the executive director of the National Capital Housing Authority, and was later elected mayor during Johnson's term. It stated that billboards would be banned "except in those areas of commercial and industrial use. That fact underscores the urgency of improving our environment for all people. Copyright All Rights Reserved. President Johnson told his cabinet and staff members "You know I love that woman and she wants that Highway Beautification Act" he said, when it looked as if the bill might not pass, and "by God, we're going to get it for her," he said. Her Wildflower Center section V. Not only is your handiwork enjoyed by the three million people who live and work in this city, it can be seen also by seventeen million visitors who come here each year, and our work has inspired other cities across the country," she told the group. It is hard to hitch the conversation into one straight line, because everything leads to something else. The legislation, however, was considered a victory for the Johnson team and for the Lady Bird's beautification efforts. Critics said the bill was so watered down by the time it passed that it did more harm than good to the landscape. One active member, Mary Lasker, focused her efforts on the beautification of downtown and tourist areas with the donation of thousands of dollars and trees and plants. Throughout her time in the White House, she fought to make American cities more beautiful by planting flowers or adding park benches and by removing billboards and junkyards from the nation's highways. Others insisted that Washington's inner cities needed the resources for playgrounds and general infrastructure.
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