Former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and Baylor Law School graduate Lyndon Olson spoke Wednesday to public relations students about his extensive career, his work and research with the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and warned against the current rhetoric in politics today.
Olson spoke Wednesday March 30 to the Advanced Public Relations class in Castellaw Communications Center. Senior lecturer in the journalism, new media and public relations department Dr. Cassy Burleson introduced Olson.
“In a sentence, he is the kindest, most intelligent, most articulate, learned statesmen I have ever known,” Burleson said.
Olsen was born and raised in Waco and attended Baylor. He majored in political science and religion and went on to the Baylor Law school. At 23, while he was in law school, he ran against 16 other people for the Texas House of Representatives. Olson won and served McLennan County.
He held this position for six years until Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed him chair of the Insurance Commission of Texas. He was 30 years old at this time and served in the position for nine years. The commission sets prices for insurance, as creates and dissolves insurance companies and makes sure insurance claims are viable. After his nine years as chair of the Insurance Commission of Texas, he became the chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
In 1998 President Bill Clinton approved Olson U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Olson’s father and grandfather were immigrants from Sweden.
“I knew if I left Wall Street I’d leave a lot of money behind, frankly,” said Olson. “I didn’t know if I was going to make that commitment but for Sweden I would. Simply because of bringing honor to my family and closing the circle where my grandfather and great-grandfather were immigrants to this country.”
Olson was heavily involved in Holocaust asset gathering. He said this involved gathering gold from Nazi vaults in Switzerland and giving the gold back to survivors of the Holocaust and giving back items that belonged to them. Olson said this was an international effort.
Olson said he believes that the country is now in a dark period in our nation. Olson quoted U.S. Congressman William Poage and talked about how Poage felt that there should be a moderate conservative wing in the Democratic Party and a moderate liberal wing in the Republican Party or the United States will be in a lot of trouble.
Olson said he has never seen anything as hateful and angry as the current civic and public rhetoric. He said he believed that society will not survive as a democracy is that continues.
“We talked a lot about politics, and I thought his importance on the moderate conservative and the liberal was very important concerning our climate and it was something a lot of our students need to hear especially coming from an older generation,” said Oklahoma City senior Netta Mustin.
Olson is also the vice chairman of the Lyndon B. Johnson foundation library. Olson said he found it alarming how little millennials know about Johnson and the several acts he passed including the civil rights act and the great society.