Civil Rights, Chicken Fried Steak, and the Hill Country: The LBJ National Historical Park

Hello All! Despite some initial technical difficulties on my part, I am now able to properly introduce myself. My name is Josue Teniente, and I am interning at the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) National Historical Park this summer.

Growing up in Laredo, Texas on the border, we had a local high school named after LBJ, yet few people in my hometown knew anything about the 36th president. We knew he had a vague association with Civil Rights and Vietnam, but beyond that, most of our knowledge was limited to the history books we had in our classrooms. It wasn’t until my college years that I began to learn about the profound impacts LBJ had on the country and the world.

But this isn’t a paper on LBJ (I should know since I wrote one this past fall semester for one of my classes). Instead, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. I am the son of a first generation Mexican-American (Dad) and a Mexican Immigrant (Mom). Growing up, this intersection of race, ethnicity, and citizenship always interested me, especially growing up in a border town surrounded by various intersectionalities and identities. This confluence of characteristics and ideas led me to pursue history and sociology at the University of Texas, where I hope to also attend law school soon (looking at you Dr. Riley!). In my pursuit of a degree, I took a course on LBJ and the impact he had on the country. We studied many subjects and controversies, and we ultimately took a trip out to the LBJ Ranch and his boyhood home to gain firsthand knowledge of the man and his surroundings.

Fast-forward six months later, I now find myself blessed with the incredible opportunity to intern with the very site I visited during my class. Many of the rangers at the park say on tours that LBJ called the Hill Country “a part of God’s own real estate,” and after a few days walking down winding paths and exploring the Pedenales river, I understand LBJ’s affinity for his home region.  As I write this article, I’ve finished my 4th day of work and continue to look towards many projects, including translation of park materials, the creation of a new Junior Ranger Booklet, and even a potential Naturalization ceremony at the Texas White House at LBJ’s ranch. But I better stop here so y’all have something to look forward to in my next entry.

I’m grateful to LHIP and Environment for the Americas for such an extraordinary opportunity! I hope to make the most of this experience in the weeks to come and look forward to updating y’all on my exploits!


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