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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Journalist and political commentator Billy Don "Bill" Moyers was born June 5, 1934, in Hugo, Oklahoma, in the southeastern region of the state known as "Little Dixie." His parents, John Henry and Ruby (Johnson) Moyers, named him Billy Don. The family, including Bill's older brother, James Henry, soon moved to Marshall, in East Texas. John Henry Moyers supported his family as a farmer, a truck driver for a bottling company, a salesman, and a laborer building a highway from the Texas-Oklahoma border to Oklahoma City.

While attending high school in Marshall, sixteen-year-old Bill Moyers started his journalism career, working as a reporter for the Marshall News Messenger. He initially studied journalism at North Texas State College in Denton. In 1954 U.S. Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson hired him as a summer intern. Young Moyers then transferred to the University of Texas in Austin, where he attained a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. While living in Austin, he married his college sweetheart, Judith Suzanne Davidson, on December 18, 1954. They had three children. His broadcasting career developed from working at radio and television stations owned by Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Senator Johnson.

In 1956 Moyers garnered a Rotary International Fellowship and studied ecclesiastical history at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Following this sojourn, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, attaining a master of divinity degree in 1959. His career as a Baptist pastor was short-lived; his previous connections with Lyndon Johnson soon propelled him into the political arena. In 1961 Pres. John F. Kennedy appointed Moyers as associate director of public affairs for the newly organized Peace Corps. He served as President Johnson's top aide and press secretary from 1963 to 1967. In 1964 Moyers helped organize and supervise the legislative task force on Johnson's Great Society programs.

After working with President Johnson, Moyers returned to journalism, working as publisher at Newsday, a daily metropolitan newspaper, from 1967 to 1970. From print journalism he turned to broadcasting at PBS, CBS, and NBC. At PBS he hosted the news programs known as Bill Moyers Journal and NOW with Bill Moyers. From 2012 to 2015 Moyers produced a weekly interview show known as Moyers & Company.

Bill Moyers has received more than thirty Emmy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and various journalism awards. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995. He has written numerous books, including Listening to America: A Traveler Rediscovers His Country (1971), A World of Ideas (1989), Healing and the Mind (1993), Moyers On America: A Journalist and His Times (2004), and Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues (2011). In addition to writing, into the twenty-first century Moyers has continued to present public speeches.

Linda D. Wilson


Bill Moyers, Moyers On America: A Journalist and His Times, ed. Julie Leininger Pycior (New York: New Press, 2004).

"Bill Moyers," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

New York Times, 13 May 1970.

Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) Times, 10 December 1963, 29 October 1965.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Moyers, Billy Don,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=MO036.

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