130 Lyndon Johnson Quotes on Civil Rights & Politics

Looking for the best collection of Lyndon B. Johnson quotes? Then, this list is surely a must-read!

Sworn into office after JFK’s assassination, he jumped right into his role and effectively assured millions of Americans that we would make the former president’s vision of a progressive America into reality.

His presidency was filled with a lot of impactful events—the Vietnam war, civil rights bills, and the establishment of Medicare.

Learn more about Lyndon B. Johnson through the collection below.

And don’t miss out these Herbert Hoover quotes and Thomas Jefferson quotes.

Best Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.

1. “Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.”

2. “We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.”

3. “Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.”

4. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

5. “Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.”

6. “Don’t be egotistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.”

7. “Acquire the quality of ‘relaxed, easy-going’ so that things do not ruffle you.”

8. “Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.”

9. “Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old-shoe, old-hat kind of individual.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources.

10. “The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources—because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”

11 .“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”

12. “Study to get the scratchy elements out of your personality, even those of which you may be unconscious.”

13. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

14. “A man without a vote is a man without protection.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, every misunderstanding you have had or now have.

15. “Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.”

16. “Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may indicate that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.”

17. “I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.”

18. “Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulations upon anyone’s achievement, or express sympathy in sorrow or disappointment.”

19. “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes on the Importance of Education and Gaining Wisdom

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity.

20. “Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity.”

21. “While you’re saving your face, you’re losing your ass.”

22. “We did not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else.”

23. “Don’t spit in the soup, we all gotta eat.”

24. “Why does SeaWorld have a seafood restaurant? I’m halfway through my fish burger and I realize, oh man, I could be eating a slow learner.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - For every generation, there is a destiny.

25. “For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own.”

26. “Better to have your enemies inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

27. “We believe that every man must someday be free. And we believe in ourselves.”

28. “For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground.”

29. “Nothing comes free. Nothing. Not even good, especially not good.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - If you're not listening, you're not learning.

30. “If you’re not listening, you’re not learning.”

31. “Education is the key to opportunity in our society, and the equality of educational opportunity must be the birthright of every citizen.”

32. “Come now. Let us reason together.”

33. “At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems—the answer for all the problems of the world—come to a single word. That word is education.”

34. “You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - The classroom - not the trench - is the frontier of freedom now and forevermore.

35. “The classroom—not the trench—is the frontier of freedom now and forevermore.”

36. “The best fertilizer for a piece of land is the footprints of its owner.”

37. “All I have I would have given gladly not to be standing here today.”

38. “Education will not cure all the problems of society, but without it no cure for any problem is possible.”

39. “If we must disagree, let’s disagree without being disagreeable.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Poverty has many roots, but the tap root is ignorance.

40. “Poverty has many roots, but the tap root is ignorance.”

41. “Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sake, but for the nation’s sake.”

42. “For the primary and secondary school years, we will aid public schools serving low-income families and assist students in both public and private schools.”

43. “It is a truism that education is no longer a luxury. Education in this day and age is a necessity.”

44. “A clear stream, a long horizon, a forest wilderness and open sky—these are man’s most ancient possessions. In a modern society, they are his most priceless.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - New laboratories and centers will help our schools lift their standards of excellence and explore new methods of teaching.

45. “New laboratories and centers will help our schools lift their standards of excellence and explore new methods of teaching. These centers will provide special training for those who need and deserve special treatment.”

46. “Once we considered education a public expense; we know now that it is a public investment.”

47. “Any man who’s not willing to take half a loaf in a negotiation, well, that man never went to bed hungry.”

48. “When the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale, the community itself is crippled.”

49. “I hear the headlines on the radio, see them on TV, and read them in the paper. When I hear from the men out there, I sometimes don’t believe they are talking about the same situation.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes on the Difficulties of War, Politics, and Government

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Guns and bombs, rockets and warships, are all symbols of human failure.

50. “Guns and bombs, rockets and warships, are all symbols of human failure.”

51. “If we stand passively by while the center of each city becomes a hive of depravation, crime and hopelessness, if we become two people, the suburban affluent and the urban poor, each filled with mistrust and fear for the other, then we shall effectively cripple each generation to come.”

52. “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

53. “That bitch of a war killed the lady I really loved —the great society.”

54. “Emancipation was a proclamation, but not a fact.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - I'll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.

55. “I’ll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”

56. “Negro poverty is not white poverty. Many of its causes and many of its cures are the same. But there are differences—deep, corrosive, obstinate differences—radiating painful roots into the community and into the family, and the nature of the individual. These differences are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice.”

57. “Conceived in justice, written in liberty, bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all mankind; and it binds us still. If we keep its terms, we shall flourish.”

58. “We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities.”

59. “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Republicans simply don't know how to manage the economy.

60. “Republicans simply don’t know how to manage the economy.”

61. “If the government is to serve any purpose it is to do for others what they are unable to do for themselves.”

62. “I am a freeman, an American, a United States Senator, and a Democrat—in that order.”

63. “To sustain an environment suitable for man, we must fight on a thousand battlegrounds. Despite all of our wealth and knowledge, we cannot create a redwood forest, a wild river, or a gleaming seashore.”

64. “When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - No national sovereignty rules in outer space.

65. “No national sovereignty rules in outer space. Those who venture there go as envoys of the entire human race. Their quest, therefore, must be for all mankind, and what they find should belong to all mankind.”

66. “In the years since then, those four freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—have stood as a summary of our aspirations for the American Republic and for the world.”

67. “War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in the world.”

68. “Every citizen, regardless of his race, creed, or color, is entitled to equal justice.”

69. “As we maintain the vigil of peace, we must remember that justice is a vigil, too—a vigil we must keep in our own streets and schools and among the lives of all our people—so that those who died here on their native soil shall not have died in vain.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth.

70. “Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”

71. “Democrats legislate; Republicans investigate.”

72. “I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling rejected by the American people. I’m tired of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the war.”

73. “A compassionate government keeps faith with the trust of the people and cherishes the future of their children. Through compassion for the plight of one individual, government fulfills its purpose as the servant of all the people.”

74. “Boys, it is just like the Alamo. Somebody should have by God helped those Texans. I’m going to Vietnam.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - To hunger for use and to go unused is the worst hunger of all.

75. “To hunger for use and to go unused is the worst hunger of all.”

76. “I am going to build the kind of nation that President Roosevelt hoped for, President Truman worked for, and President Kennedy died for.”

77. “Not merely a nation, but a nation of nations.”

78. “I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle.”

79. “The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes on Excellence and Success

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - The noblest search is the search for excellence.

80. “The noblest search is the search for excellence.”

81. “Victory is no longer a truth. It is only a word to describe who is left alive in the ruins.”

82. “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few we can solve by ourselves.”

83. “Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged character of our people, and on their faith.”

84. “Before this generation of Americans is finished, this enemy will not only retreat—it will be conquered.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Art is a nation's most precious heritage.

85. “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner version which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”

86. “Power is where power goes.”

87. “Our nation’s course is abundantly clear. We aspire to nothing that belongs to others. We seek no dominion over our fellow man, but man’s dominion over tyranny and misery.”

88. “Let us now join reason to faith and action to experience, to transform our unity of interest into a unity of purpose.”

89. “Each time, from the secret places of the American heart, came forth the faith they could not see or that they could not even imagine. It brought us victory, and it will again.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Is our world gone? We say, 'Farewell.'

90. “Is our world gone? We say, ‘Farewell.’ Is a new world coming? We welcome it—and we will bend it to the hopes of man.”

91. “Light at the end of the tunnel? We don’t even have a tunnel; we don’t even know where the tunnel is.”

92. “Success only feeds the appetite of aggression.”

93. “If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we’ll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we’ll have to fight in San Francisco.”

94. “We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met.

95. “Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met—obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.”

96. “I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help—and God’s.”

97. “There’s something special for everyone to do. Remember, no experience is a bad experience unless you gain nothing from it.”

98. “The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character.”

99. “Of those to whom much is given, much is asked.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - I will not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.

100. “I will not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

101. “The American city should be a collection of communities where every member has a right to belong. It should be a place where every man feels safe on his streets and in the house of his friends.”

102. “The family is the cornerstone of our society.”

103. “Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty.”

104. “Effective law enforcement and social justice must be pursued together, as the foundation of our efforts against crime.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - It is the excitement of becoming - always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again.

105. “It is the excitement of becoming—always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again—but always trying and always gaining.”

106. “So, I would appeal to my fellow Americans by saying the only real road to progress for free people is through the process of law and that is the road that America will travel.”

107, “Every gift contains a danger. Whatever gift we have, we are compelled to express. And if the expression of that gift is blocked, distorted, or merely allowed to languish, then the gift turns against us, and we suffer.”

108. “If we fail now, then we will have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship—that democracy rests on faith; freedom asks more than it gives; and the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.”

109. “The great society is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goods than with the quantity of their goods.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes on Values and Making the Right Decisions

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.

110. “You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.”

111. “Nixon is like a Spanish horse who runs faster than anyone for the first nine lengths and then turns around and runs backwards. You’ll see; he’ll do something wrong in the end. He always does.”

112. “This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom, but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity, but human ability; not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”

113. “Men want to be a part of a common enterprise—a cause greater than themselves.”

114. “Each of us must find a way to advance the purpose of the nation, thus finding a new purpose for ourselves. Without this, we shall become a nation of strangers.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Our enemies have always made the same mistake.

115. “Our enemies have always made the same mistake. In my lifetime—in depression and in war—they have awaited our defeat.”

116. “But you must look within your own hearts to the old promises and to the old dream. They will lead you best of all.”

117. “How incredible it is that in this fragile existence, we should hate and destroy one another.”

118. “I’m gonna hunker down like a jack rabbit in a dust storm.”

119. “I want real loyalty. I want someone who will kiss my ass in Macy’s window, and say it smells like roses.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - Voting is the first duty of democracy.

120. “Voting is the first duty of democracy.”

121. “In a nation of millions and a world of billions, the individual is still the first and basic agent of change.”

122. “At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”

123. “The test before us as a people is not whether our commitments match our will and our courage; but whether we have the will and courage to match our commitments.”

124. “Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - I'm the only president you've got.

125. “I’m the only president you’ve got.”

126. “We must change to master change.”

127. “I am a compromiser and maneuverer. I try to get something. That’s the way our system works.”

128. “Conservation is ethically sound. It is rooted in our love of the land, our respect for the rights of others, our devotion to the rule of law.”

129. “He’s a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.”

Lyndon B. Johnson Quotes - What convinces is conviction.

130. “What convinces is conviction.”

Did These Quotes Inspire You to Create a Better World for Everyone?

Like what we see in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s life, it doesn’t matter where one comes from as long as he has a clear view of where he wants to go. As the 36th president of the United States, he became one of the pivotal figures of the 20th century and led the country with an inspiring vision—a vision of peace, progress, and equality for all. He aligned his mission with the ambitions of his people and became a respected and honored leader who’s remembered until today.

What kind of leadership approach did you pick up from Lyndon B. Johnson? Did these quotes have a positive impact on you? Comment your thoughts below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

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