John F. Kennedy on Civil Rights
Morris further states that in 1960, "blacks showed their appreciation by voting for Kennedy by a margin of 70-30." The voting figures are reasonably accurate, but the trend is Morris' opinion, at best. In 1960 blacks voted for Kennedy in roughly the same as their overall voting pattern since 1936. In other words, blacks showed appreciation for Eisenhower in 1956, more than they showed appreciation for Kennedy in 1960.
Source: Blacks & the 2008 DNC, JointCenter.org
In 1964, the black preference for the Democrats became a landslide, as president Lyndon Johnson rallied a grieving nation after Kennedy's assassination to demand passage of the strong civil rights bill JFK had proposed during his last year in office. Backed by a national outcry, Johnson jammed through the far-reaching legislation, which ended discrimination against blacks in virtually every area of national life. Ironically, it was only with strong Republican support that the bill was able to pass.
The summer of 1963 proved to be as strife-ridden as many had feared. Justice Department records showed 978 demonstrations in 209 cities in the period from May 20 to August 8. No doubt responding to the turbulence, Congress seemed more favorable toward civil rights legislation than many had thought.
By late November considerable doubt remained among political observers whether or not the compromise [civil rights] bill would win approval on Capitol Hill. Bobby later admitted that the Senate was a major hurdle.
One Senator, a personal friend of Jack's, said later that the bill would not have passed if the president had lived.
The overall response made Kennedy proud of his country. The citizen "lobby"--led by religious groups--was massive and effective. Even more striking was the voluntary removal of segregation signs and practices in chain stores, theaters and restaurants.
The nation's clergy were goaded into effective action on a major moral issue which had long preceded Kennedy's leadership. Progress was slow and insufficient, but, compared to the previous 100 years, rapid and gratifying.
The Irish were the first to endure the scorn and discrimination later to be inflicted, to some degree at least, on each successive wave of immigrants by already settled "Americans." In speech and dress they seemed foreign; they were poor and unskilled; and they were arriving in overwhelming numbers. The Irish are perhaps the only people in our history with the distinction of having a political party, the Know-Nothings, formed against them. Their religion was later also the target of the American Protective Association and, in this century, the Ku Klux Klan.
The Irish found many doors closed to them, both socially and economically. Advertisements for jobs specified: "No Irish need apply." But there was manual labor to be done, and the Irish were ready to do it.
|Other past presidents on Civil Rights:||John F. Kennedy on other issues:|
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Past Vice Presidents:
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