President Kennedy meets v the leaders of the march On Washington on respectable 28, 1963 in the Oval Office.L-R: Secretary of job Willard Wirtz, Mathew Ahmann, Rev. Dr. Young name Luther King, Jr., john Lewis, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Rev. Eugene Carson Blake, A. Philip Randolph, chairman Kennedy, Vice chairman Johnson, Walter Ruether, Whitney Young, Floyd McKissick.

Cecil Stoughton. White house Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston


“One century of hold-up have passed because President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, your grandsons, room not fully free. They room not yet freed indigenous the binding of injustice. They are not however freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all the boasts, will not it is in fully totally free until all its citizens space free.”– President john Fitzgerald Kennedy, June 11, 1963.

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Rosa Parks was fingerprinted after a succeeding arrest for violating anti-boycott legislations in 1956.

Associated Press photo - brand-new York World-Telegram & sunlight Collection, 1956. Prints and Photographs division of the Library of Congress.

Time that Change

The 1950s and 1960s in the United says were a duration of continued struggle for civil rights and also equality under the law, much of this occupational still continues to this day.In 1954, the can be fried Court’s ruling in Brown v. Plank of education and learning made distinction in public colleges unconstitutional. Regardless of the landmark ruling, many states refused to follow commonwealth law. In 1957, nine school youngsters in Arkansas, well-known today together the small Rock Nine, enrolled at tiny Rock central High, a segregated white high school. Seeking an education, this compelled Arkansas to make a selection on how the federal court rulings would certainly be applied. Although the students were enrolled, federal troops were sent in to little Rock to safeguard them native an angry mob.That same year, the Civil rights Act the 1957 to be passed. The act allowed for the start of anyone that denied who their ideal to vote.Rosa Parks and Dr. Boy name Luther King Jr. Came to be nationally known to white Americans for their functions in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the integration of the general public transit in Montgomery, Alabama.Despite the progress made, far-reaching inequalities still existed. Subjective literacy tests were used to deny black color Americans their appropriate to vote. They likewise had unequal accessibility to education and also employment.


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1960 Kennedy campaign button

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and also Museum, Boston, MA

The 1960 Campaign

By late 1960, Senator john F. Kennedy and his project team were passionate to uncover a way to traction ahead in the final days that the presidential race. Top top October 19, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., together with students, to be protesting local segregation ordinances in Georgia and also was sent to jail because that trespassing. King was sentenced to 6 months of hard labor because that violating his probation top top a vault misdemeanor. ~ hearing of king sentence, councilor Kennedy and his brother, Robert, referred to as Georgia governor, Ernest Vandiver, and also petitioned king release. City council Kennedy called Coretta Scott King, MLK’s wife, to market his help. Meanwhile, Robert Kennedy referred to as the judge and also was may be to to convince him to relax King. The Kennedys’ role in king release conveniently spread in the black color community. Senator man F. Kennedy won seventy percent of the black color vote in November. The black color vote was crucial in Kennedy’s victory.


John F. Kennedy bring away Office

During his first couple of days in office, chairman Kennedy instructed his cabinet secretaries to rise hiring of black color federal employees. He additionally requested one audit that diversity in commonwealth employment and pay grades, and also called for efforts to diversify the workforce. Kennedy was reluctant come propose significant civil rights legislation throughout his an initial term for fear of shedding the support of southerly Democrats, countless of whom benefited from and also supported segregation policies. Chairman Kennedy required their assistance to happen his economic and also foreign plan agendas, and also to support his reelection.


The liberty Riders

In may 1961, two teams of young activists set out indigenous Washington D.C. To test a can be fried Court situation ruling that asserted segregation top top interstate transport illegal. Castle passed through multiple states without significant incidence. Upon arriving in south Carolina, few of the riders, including John Lewis, to be attacked and beaten. Once the freedom Riders got to Alabama, your bus was fire-bombed, riders were forced to flee right into a white lot that surrounded their bus, and also were beaten v iron bars. Attorney general Robert Kennedy deployed 400 federal marshals come Alabama to safeguard the liberty Riders. The justice Department then petitioned the Interstate business Commission (ICC) to adhere to federal law. By September, the ICC rule in favor of the petition.


Birmingham, Alabama

In April 1963, Dr. King and also Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth organized the Birmingham Campaign. This collection of protests, from neighborhood members and students, sought come dismantle the city’s discrimination practices. The City Commissioner, Eugene “Bull” Connor, ordered police to usage dogs and also high-pressure fire hoses on the tranquil protesters. These pictures were broadcast throughout the country. President Kennedy was shocked by what the saw and began to rethink the federal government’s duty in the Civil civil liberties Movement.Robert Kennedy sent out his Assistant lawyer General, Burke Marshall, come Birmingham to mediate negotiations in between the campaign and also white southern business leaders. An commitment came that may to desegregate having lunch counters and also other places of business.White segregationists comment violently, including bombing a hotel that housed some of the campaign’s leaders, including Dr. King. In solution to this violence, chairman Kennedy readied 3,000 commonwealth troops external of Birmingham.


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James Baldwin, 1955.

Van Vechten, C., photographer. (1955) Portrait that James Baldwin. , 1955. Sept. 13. Retrieved from the Library that Congress

The Baldwin Meeting

On may 24, 1963, Robert Kennedy met to talk about the state of race connections in the United says with writer James Baldwin, along with a tiny group of Black writers and activists, in new York City.The meeting did no go well. One of the guests, Jerome Smith, a previous Freedom Rider, claimed he would certainly “never” serve his country, because he go not want to fight for a nation that had “continued to deny us (Black Americans) ours rights.” Robert Kennedy to be upset by Smith’s statement; he can not know why someone would not want to serve their country, especially because military organization was so highly regarded in the Kennedy family.As the meeting continued, the group expressed your grievances with the Kennedy administration and their handling of polite rights. Robert Kennedy only alienated the group much more when he tried to to compare his family’s endure with discrimination as ireland Catholics come the gyeongju injustice confronted by civilization of color. The group felt the he was trying to to compare two various experiences and was minimizing the hardship faced by black Americans because that centuries.This meeting was an important in shaping Robert Kennedy’s views on polite rights. Together Kennedy learned to empathize with the black color community and continued come listen, the much more he thought Congressional activity was critical. The insisted that civil rights law must move forward that would ensure protection of every citizen’s rights.


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James Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, together he go to course at the college of Mississippi on October 1, 1962.

Trikosko, M. S., photographer. (1962) Integration in ~ Ole Mississippi university / MST. Mississippi Oxford, 1962. Oct. 1. Retrieved from the Library the Congress

Integrating Schools

During the Kennedy administration, far-ranging progress was made in the integration of publicly schools and also universities.In 1962, James H. Meredith Jr., one Air force veteran, was repeatedly denied join from the university of Mississippi, as result of his race. As soon as Meredith landed on campus come register, the was clogged by state officials. Student riots ensued. Chairman Kennedy sent out in the nationwide guard and federal troops to protect Meredith and ensure he to be safely registered.In June 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood arrived on the college of Alabama campus to combine the university. They to be met by Govermor Wallace impede the door of the schoolhouse, exhilaration on his promise of “segregation now, distinction tomorrow, and also segregation forever.” chairman Kennedy intervened and also federalized the Alabama nationwide Guard to pressure Wallace to comply.


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President john F. Kennedy it is provided a radio and television resolve to the nation regarding desegregation at the university of Alabama. Oval Office, White House, Washington, D.C. June 11, 1963.

Abbie Rowe. White home Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and also Museum, Boston

President Kennedy Addresses the Nation

By see the battles of the liberty Riders, the peaceful protestors in Birmingham, students’ acts of integration and the violent backlash indigenous white southerners, chairman Kennedy was required to face the worry of polite rights.On the job that branch Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door, president Kennedy made a televised deal with to the country trying to unite the country about the need for civil legal rights legislation.President Kennedy identified civil rights as not simply a constitutional issue, but also a “moral issue.” He also proposed the Civil rights Act that 1963, which would carry out protection of every American’s appropriate to poll under the United says Constitution, end segregation in publicly facilities, and also require public institutions to be integrated.In bespeak to try and ensure his bill’s passage, chairman Kennedy met with influential Civil rights leaders to talk about the contents of the bill. He additionally met v businessmen, spiritual leaders, and also others to build the bipartisan support the invoice would have to pass.The bill struggled to relocate through Congress. Civil legal rights leaders were worried that the bill had stalled and also organized The march on Washington because that Jobs and also Freedom that August. Regardless of their best efforts, by November that 1963, the invoice was stalled in debate.

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President lyndon B. Johnson hand Senator Robert F. Kennedy a pen from the signing that the Voting civil liberties Act. President"s Room, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC. August 6, 1965.

LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

After the Kennedy Presidency

Shortly after being sworn in following President Kennedy’s assassination, President lyndon B. Johnson urged the passage of the Civil legal rights Act be lugged out in honor of the late president.

Johnson offered his connections and also experience acquired as previous Senate majority Leader come sucessfuly negotiate support for the bill. On July 2, 1964, a little more than a year after president Kennedy introduced the bill, president Johnson officially signed the Civil civil liberties Act of 1964 into law. The plot made distinguish in public facilities and federally funded programs illegal.Robert Kennedy left the Johnson administration when the was chosen as a U.S. Councilor to brand-new York. As a senator, he continued his support for the Voting civil liberties Act of 1965. He likewise continued to take trip the country, widening his views on race and also poverty in America. In 1968, Kennedy made his very own presidential bid. He quickly garnered overwhelming support from the black color community and other minorities who felt he would be their best advocate in the Oval Office. Top top the night of April 4, 1968, martin Luther King Jr. Was assassinated. Kennedy was booked to supply a project speech the night in Indianapolis, IN come a group of mainly Black Americans. Together he delivered the shocking news of king assassination, that empathized with his supporters and encouraged castle to discover peaceful and also productive ways to channel their sorrow. The text and video of the speech are linked here.As violence broke out throughout many American cities that evening, Indianapolis stayed peaceful. John Lewis would later say, “He Kennedy became the one guy who could soothe the savage pain that brushed up through the city the Indianapolis, and also there to be no violent outbreaks there. I carry out remember calm my own sorrow in that dark hour by thinking, Dr. King is gone, yet we still have actually Bobby."Two months later, Robert Kennedy to be assassinated.Although city council Kennedy to be assassinated in 1968, his legacy continues through the nonprofit, Robert F. Kennedy human Rights. This nonprofit continues the work of senator Kennedy, advocating for human being rights and also social justice. In 1995, chairman Clinton saw Indianapolis" martin Luther King Jr. Park come dedicate the “Landmark because that Peace” memorial commemorating the website where Robert Kennedy ceded his immortal words on the night of Dr. Boy name Luther King jr assassination. In 2018, the site was included to the african American Civil civil liberties Network.

“Each time a male stands up for an ideal, or plot to enhance the the majority of others, or strikes out versus injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers that energy and also daring those ripples build a current which have the right to sweep under the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”– Robert F. Kennedy. College of Capetown, Capetown, southern Africa. June 6, 1966