ABOUT THE PLAY
The Great Society is a historical drama, and the characters on stage are fictionalized portrayals of real people. Sometimes, the dialogue on stage has been copied directly from speeches or papers written by the political figures. Other times, their words are the work of the playwright’s imagination.
MEET THE POLITICAL PLAYERS
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON
November 1963 – January 1969
A boy from rural Texas turned behind-the-scenes master of Congress, the “accidental” president was thrust into the public eye with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. At one of the most volatile moments in American history, suddenly politicians, journalists, soldiers, and activists are all asking, “What does LBJ want?”
Lady Bird Johnson
A shrewd manager of LBJ’s campaigns, she was also a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation’s cities and highways.
Chief Aide to
His even temperament and ability to gracefully navigate tense situations made him one of Johnson’s top aides.
Humphrey was a strong advocate for civil rights and social programs. He ardently supported LBJ, at least in the public eye. Behind the scenes, the two argued about Vietnam War policies.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil Rights Leader
From his “I Have a Dream” speech to the Nobel Peace Prize, King galvanized a nation to fight racial oppression using nonviolent resistance. A master of activism and political strategy, he also advocated for urban poverty relief and was against the war in Vietnam.
Civil Rights Leader
A close associate of MLK, Abernathy helped lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the 1968 March on Washington.
FAIR WEATHER FANS
Senator from Georgia,
Despite being LBJ’s close friend and political mentor, Russell led the Southern Democrats, a group of white senators and congressmen determined to block civil rights progress.
J. Edgar Hoover
First Director of
Hoover ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years under six presidents. A keeper of personal and political secrets, his agenda was his own.
Alabama Governor, Southern Democrat
Wallace threatened civil rights from the governor’s mansion while challenging Johnson in the 1964 Democratic Primary.
Robert F. Kennedy
Senator from New York,
The younger brother and closest advisor to late President John F. Kennedy, Robert was a powerful and charismatic Democratic leader—and no fan of Johnson’s.
Goldwater ran against LBJ for the presidency in 1964. Though ultimately he lost the election, Goldwater was credited with the resurgence of the American conservative political movement.