Ladybird Johnson was a reluctant and unexpected first lady. She was unsure of her abilities as a public speaker, and aware of her place well within the shadow of Jacqueline Kennedy. She had an unpopular husband known best for ushering us into the Vietnam era and she stepped into her role as first lady under a cloud of public grief that would mark the beginning of decades of disillusionment and social change. She was commonly referred to as "wife in capital letters". She wore a lot of yellow.
But. She also played an important role in the formation and implementation of the Headstart program, which today services more than 22 million children nationwide and was essential to the formation of the Redwoods National Park.
We assume we know people, what they stand for, what they do, and what's important to them. That Ladybird Johnson was one of the nation's early environmentalists may surprise us speaks to our tendency to pigeonhole people, and judge them based on their most public selves. That she so quietly accomplished so much speaks to her ability to remain true to herself, regardless of her public obligations and personal challenges.
Do what you love. Do what's important. You never know what you might accomplish.
To visit the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center Website:
The PBS Biography of Ladybird: