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The Great Society Essay

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Updated: Apr 6th, 2019

The Great Society was a set of programs started by President Lyndon B. Johnson. They were initiated in the Congress and had goals of social reforms. The programs addressed medical care, education, transportation and urban problems.

There had been elimination of some programs; some funds of other programs were reduced and others continued to be implemented (Weintraub 4). They included Medicare, education funding and Medicaid.


Civil Rights

In 1964, there were urban riots caused by African-American due to racial discriminations. They had a Civil Rights Movement and one of the Great Society successes was putting the requests of the “civil rights movement” into law. In 1965, four Civil Rights Acts were enacted. Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination of public accommodation and acquiring of jobs.

The Voting Rights Act enabled African-Americans to vote and register. Civil Rights Act of 1965 forbade Housing discrimination and constitutionally protected Native Americans.

The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 did away with “the national-origin quotas in immigration law” These acts are still in the U.S laws and are being enacted like The voting Rights Act, The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 since it is everybody right to vote. Some acts are not effective since some African-Americans today are still discriminated from jobs and acquiring of houses.

War on Poverty

There were antipoverty programs under Opportunity Act aimed at helping Native Americans who were poor (Moss 121). Raising incomes of the working poor was not the solution to fighting poverty, but to give job training, community development and education.

Almost three billion U.S dollars were spent fighting poverty. The Great Society was successful in fighting poverty because youths benefited from the programs by developing marketable skills (Weintraub 8). They were able to get jobs due to the training and education they had acquired.


The Great Society was successful because it established Secondary and Elementary Education Act in 1965. Children from poor families could not get an education due to lack of school fees but upon the introduction of Great Society’s aid, they were able to learn.

It provided aid to public schools to purchase materials and to come up with education programs aimed for poor children. The Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963 gave college aid for a period of five years.

It provided more college libraries, technical institutes and classrooms. The education program increased money given to U.S universities. It created scholarships and low-interest loans, and started Teacher Corps to give teachers in poor areas of U.S. These aids and initiatives are present even today.


One of the Great Society successes was providing Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. There were no health care programs for the old. Under the Social Security Act, Medicare was authorized. It provided funding for medical costs of Americans who were old (Moss 15). It was specifically for Americans over the age of sixty five. Medicaid program gave medical care to all ages. This continues till present in hospital for those who cannot afford.

Cultural Centers

The Great Society started giving aid to arts facilities and national cultural so that they could complete their projects. It was successful in establishing cultural centers because it led to the establishment of John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for commemorating John F. Kennedy who was assassinated (Lyndon 15). There was expansion of art museum called Smithsonian Institution which was funded under great society. Currently it has modern arts.


The great Society led to a unification of transportation agencies to Department of Transportation in 1965. There was establishment of The Urban Mass Transportation Act which funded large-scale private or public rail projects with 375 U.S Dollars to States and Cities. This led to the creation of the Urban Mass Transit Administration now referred to as Federal Transit Administration.

Consumer Protection

Johnson elected Esther Peterson to be president assistant to look into the customer’s affairs in 1964. The Cigarette Labeling Act authorized every cigarette packet to have a warning label. The Fair Packaging and Labeling required products to have identifications of the manufacturer like address, servings etc.

The Wholesome Meat Act required inspection of meat to meet the required standards (Lyndon 17). The Land Sale Disclosure Act provided protection against fraudulent when buying land and the Radiation Safety Act provided standards for electronic products.


The Great Society aimed at conserving untouched resources. Johnson argued that nature must be protected against destruction. The great Society initiated several environmental laws which aimed at protecting water and air.

They included Wilderness Act, Land and Water Conservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act etc. These acts are still in the U.S law but the programs have been eliminated.


Giving breakfast to children before classes was another program started by Great Society. These were free or low-cost meals. There were lunches as well. Although there were programs to fight poverty, some critics argue that Many Americans continue to live poorly, and there is still pollution despite environmental programs. These are minor failures in comparison with many achievements of the Great Society hence it was a success than a failure.

Works Cited

Johnson, Lyndon. My Hope for America. New York: Random House, 1964. Print.

Moss, George Donelson. Moving On: The American People Since 1945. Fourth Ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2010. Print

Weintraub, Arlene. “Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society”. Newsweek 4 Mar.. 2002: 25. Print.

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