The Fierce Urgency of Now

Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society
New America

The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts; the War on Poverty; Medicare and Medicaid; the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities – these are just a few of the programs Lyndon Johnson spearheaded in what became known as the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal.

But his plans for a “Great Society” didn’t come without bitter resistance. While most recount this era as an unprecedented “liberal hour” in America, Julian Zelizer’s The Fierce Urgency of Now paints a more complex picture in which Congress, religious groups, media, political action groups, and activists often had divergent views about the legacies they would leave.

To what extent does the legislation of the Great Society remain a center of gravity for the nation we live in today? And how can lessons from the Great Society and the civil rights movement apply to our current social and political climate?

Join New America for a conversation with Julian Zelizer and Jeffrey Toobin about the hard-fought path to the Great Society and the role its agenda continues to have today.

Follow the discussion online using #UrgencyOfNow and following @NewAmerica.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event.


Julian Zelizer
Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Ford Academic Fellow, New America
Author, The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and Battle for the Great Society

Jeffrey Toobin
Staff Writer, The New Yorker
Senior Legal Analyst, CNN