July 17, 2012
John F. Kennedy and Civil Rights John F. Kennedy not only changed the country, he changed the world. He was an inspiration to many generations. He was a great president and he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Kennedy built relationships with many Civil Rights Leaders and helped solve the problems with the Freedom Riders.
In 1952, John F. Kennedy was elected to the United States Senate. He took a strong interest in foreign policy and toured Europe, visiting Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, and West Germany. John argued for increased financial aid for undeveloped countries. He was a strong advocate for social welfare and civil rights legislation. JFK told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that the U.S. should maintain its policy of helping to defend Western Europe (Burner 64). John F. Kennedy’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement had a lot to do with the 1960 election race to the White House. While the election was two weeks away some of Kennedy’s advisers suggested he get involve with the arrest of Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy made a courtesy call to the wife of Martin Luther King to express his interest and Robert Kennedy and his aides called the Atlanta judge and mayor to see what they could do to get Martin Luther King released. Kennedy ended up winning the election against Nixon. Kennedy promised the African Americans that he would issue an executive order that he would end racial discrimination (Patterson 39). The night that Kennedy submitted the legislation to Congress Jackson, Mississippi’s own Medgar Evers was shot on his driveway by Byron De La Beckwith. Medgar Evers would die later at the hospital. The day after Medgar Evers was laid to rest President Kennedy invited Myrlie and her children to the White House. Kennedy then expressed his condolences and gave small gifts to the children telling them that they should be proud of their father (Patterson 53). The day that John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, all minorities throughout much of the South were denied the right to vote, public facilities force them out, talk about and suffered violence, and could not expect justice from the courts. Black Americans in the Northern areas also faced discrimination in housing, employment, education, and many other areas. The civil rights movement was making important progress, and change was on the way (Civil Rights Movement-John F. Kennedy Library and Museum). In the two years after he became president, John F. Kennedy faced more issue on the tensions between African Americans demanding equal treatment under the Constitution and segregationists refusing to end the South’s racist ways. Kennedy believed that a combination of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans would defeat any such measure and jeopardizes the rest of his legislative agenda, which included tax cuts, federal aid to school education, and medical insurance for the elderly (President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Quandary). There was a civil rights crisis that brought up controversy in Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963, Kennedy considered shifting ground and pressing for congressional action. Kennedy’s response was more than intellectual one. Kennedy saw an end to racial strife in the South as essential to America’s international standing in its competition with Moscow. Kennedy feared that Southern cities might ignite in violence during the summer. The prospect of wars raging across the South convinced Kennedy that he had to take bolder action. The assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division recalled that Kennedy saw Birmingham as representative of a pattern that would occur in many other places (President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Quandary). President Kennedy came to the conclusion that he had to ask Congress for to pass a major Civil Rights bill that would come to an understanding with the…