The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Stepping over Lines:
Lyndon Johnson, Black Texans, and the
National Youth Administration, 1935- 1937
CHRISTIE L. BOURGEOIS*
IN SEPTEMBER, 1935, YOUNG LYNDON B. JOHNSON, TWENTY-SEVEN-
year-old state director of the National Youth Administration in Texas,
received a letter from the national deputy administrator, John J. Cor-
son. Corson reminded Johnson of the large black youth population in
his state. The NYA defined "youth" as those between the ages of sixteen
and twenty-five. "In order that there may be just recognition of this
group," Corson wrote, "we believe it would be advisable to give them
the means of expression which the appointment of a Negro leader on
the Advisory Committee would permit."'
Soon after receiving Corson's communication, Johnson sent an an-
guished five-page reply in which he threatened to resign as state direc-
tor if Corson insisted on this particular order. Johnson believed that
compliance with the directive would destroy his program. He was irri-
tated that Corson brought the subject up again, because he had dis-
cussed it "thoroughly" with him by telephone before the August con-
ference of state youth directors. They had also explored the matter
when Johnson was in Washington for the conference.2
*Christie L. Bourgeois is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of
Texas at Austin. Her dissertation will investigate Lyndon B. Johnson and Texas politics during
Johnson's years in the United States House of Representatives, 1937-1948.
'John J. Corson to Lyndon B. Johnson, Sept. 17, 1935, letter, File: "Administrative: Lyndon
B.Johnson, Sept. 15-Oct, 1935," Box 8,JNYA (Lyndon B. Johnson Library; cited hereafter as
LBJL). The Fort Worth regional branch of the National Archives has no records of the Texas
NYA because these records were destroyed during World War II. Io reconstruct the story of the
Texas NYA, therefore, one must rely upon correspondence and reports received at the national
office and on collections of private papers The primary source material for this article is from
the Lyndon Barnes Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, and the National Archives in Washington,
D.C , and represents material that has not been systematically investigated in earlier works on
Johnson.
2Johnson to Corson, Sept. 22, 1935, letter, ibid. All students of Lyndon Johnson must con-
front the issue of whether or not correspondence originating in his office was written by him or

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed May 28, 2015.