We Have an Issue: Why We’re Still Talking About LBJ

Reflections on the LBJ Library at 50, and a fond farewell to Food Editor Jessi Cape

Cover by Zeke Barbaro / Photos Courtesy of LBJ Library & Museum

Dead presidents are not often on the tip of the tongue in the national conversation, but not every dead president is Lyndon Baines Johnson. When Texas House Democrats fled to D.C. this summer, breaking quorum to foil Republicans' plan of attack on our voting rights, it was LBJ's legacy that was invoked: A Texan signed the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and it was gonna be a whole passel of Texans fighting to preserve those voting rights in a tumultuous 2021. (While the U.S. House did just pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on Tuesday, the story of Texas Dems has a disappointing coda; I'll let News Editor Mike Clark-Madison explain it here.)

In Austin, we're lucky enough to have the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum open to all on the University of Texas campus. (Well, usually open – it's closed to the public during the ongoing high count of COVID-19 hospitalizations.) This spring, the institution celebrated its 50th anniversary, and this summer opened a new exhibition featuring never-before-seen memorabilia from Lady Bird Johnson's archive. Arts Editor Robert Faires marks the occasion by reflecting on LBJ's evolving legacy and his library's enduring one. Find that story here.


This week, Food Editor Jessi Cape is leaving full-time Chronicle work for a new career in communications at a local software company. But she's not going too far: She'll be running the upcoming Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival judges' table and will continue to pop up as a contributor.

Jessi started at the Chronicle in January 2007, logging time at our front desk, in Classifieds, handling subscriptions, and then as office manager – a particularly thankless task considering we're all basically heathens. In 2010, Jessi started writing for us, filing all sorts of stories in all sorts of beats: restaurant and book reviews; empathetic interviews with interesting and inspiring women, like Cheryl Strayed, Adriene Mishler, Evelyn Ngugi, Judy Blume, and Lidia Bastianich; and first-person, you-are-there pieces (like the time she went hog hunting with chef Jesse Griffiths, or the time she drank her way up and down the Red Line with beer columnist Eric Puga). In 2017, she succeeded Brandon Watson as Food editor – a passing of the torch that I think would have tickled pink her mentor, Virginia B. Wood – and I'm so proud of the work Jessi's done in that role. She's championed the underdog, stood up to bullies, put social justice at the center of her coverage, and brought a sense of play to the section, too.

I'm still trying to get used to the idea of not having Jessi around – she's been my true-blue partner in the trenches – so we're going to take our time finding the next person to run the Food section. Think you could be good at the job? Check out the job posting here.

Online This Week

The view at County Line BBQ (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Food With a View: Hannah Williford recommends restaurants serving up scenic vistas.

No Vax, No Rock: ACL Festival will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees of the October music fest.

R.I.P. Powell St. John: Kevin Curtin eulogizes the late songwriter who worked with Janis Joplin and 13th Floor Elevators.

More From the LBJ Library: Robert Faires interviews former LBJ Library directors, Kate X Messer writes about a beloved birthday cake tradition, and more.

Lager Jam 7: Beer guy Eric Puga has the scoop on what they'll be serving at Austin Beer Guide's lager party.

Dog Day of Summer: Community Listings Editor Kat McNevins rounds up ways to celebrate National Dog Day on Aug. 26.

We Have an Issue: Why We’re Still Talking About LBJ

This Week on The Austin Chronicle Show on KOOP 91.7FM

Robert Faires and Mike Clark-Madison join host Kimberley Jones to discuss LBJ's legacy and attacks on voting rights in Texas.

Tune in Fridays, 6pm, to KOOP Community Radio. Past episodes at austinchronicle.com/av.

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