During rights movement fully. Kennedy was on

During John “Jack” F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, he
made a promise to end racial discrimination with “the stroke of a pen” (Sabato,
78). Due to his win being by 1/10 of 1% he realized that he depended on the
southern electoral votes and did not want to upset them by pushing civil rights
too fiercely (Sabato, 78). Eventually, Kennedy’s eyes were opened and supported
the civil rights movement fully. Kennedy
was on track to be a strong civil rights president but, because of his untimely
assassination he did not get to pass much legislation that impacted civil
rights directly. Although he did not have a huge impact during his short time
in office, there were many significant events in history that he handled well,
which is why overall he is considered a strong civil rights president.

            What gave the African American
community the initial impression that the Kennedy’s were for the civil rights
movement was their direct involvement in the release of Martin Luther King Jr
from jail. King was arrested while leading protest in Atlanta, Georgie and John
F. Kennedy gave King’s wife, Corretta, a personal phone call to express his
concern. At the same time, his brother Robert Kennedy, called the judge to
ensure the release of King. Kennedy’s campaign involved the promise of change
for African Americans in American, which led to him receiving an estimated
sixty-eight percent of African American votes (Sabato, 78). These votes were crucial
in several key states, and secured John F. Kennedy’s spot as America’s 35th

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            In office, Jack was reluctant to
push civil rights, while his brother Bobby really pushed Jack’s attention on
voting rights, which he seemed to turn his cheek to. Although, Jack avoided
many crucial issues of the civil rights crisis, he did appoint a large amount
of African Americans to high-level positions in the administration and
strengthened the Civil Rights Commission (JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Web).

Also, during his time in office there were many displays of protest in support
of the civil rights movement that Kennedy was forced to handle such as, The
Freedom Riders.

            The Freedom Riders began in May of
1961 and consisted of a group of integrated people riding down the east coast
on a school bus. It was organized to protest the segregation on interstate
transportation, with their journey beginning in Washington D.C. and continuing
deep into the South. The start of this protest troubled Kennedy. He knew it
would rise tensions in the South and possibly result in acts of violence. The
participants were arrested in North Carolina and beaten in South Carolina, but
it wasn’t until they drove into Alabama had they experienced the worst of the
abuse (JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Web). In Anniston, Alabama, an
angry mob approached the bus and firebombed it. In Birmingham, the police
neglected to get involved when the Ku Klux Klan attacked the bus and beat the
riders with baseball bats and tire irons (Sabato, 79). These extreme acts of
violence raised awareness of the Freedom Riders peaceful protest and grabbed
the attention of the President. Initially, he told his special assistant on
civil rights Harris Wofford to order them to stop the bus rides but it was too
late for that (Sabato, 79). When King and others gathered at the First Baptist
Church in Montgomery to show support for the Freedom Riders, Kennedy sent a
group of federal marshals to protect them (Sabato, 79). An angry mob did appear
that night but due to the protection that Kennedy sent, no one was injured or

            Another impactful event in history
during JFK’s time in office was the Integration of the University of
Mississippi aka “Ole Miss” in 1962.  James
Meredith, an African American Air Force Veteran was denied admission the
university after four attempts to register with no success. The President was
unsure of what to do. Meredith then received a federal marshal escort to campus
to try and register for classes but rioting broke out. Two people were killed
and many others were injured. Finally, President Kennedy ordered the National
Guard and sent federal troops the the campus. Meredith registered the next day
and attended his first class and segregation ended at the University of Mississippi
(JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Web). Although it took this awful riot
for him to act, Kennedy eventually acted and ended up in the integration of a
southern university.

            Spring of the following year, 1963,
the Birmingham demonstrations began. Birmingham, Alabama was what King referred
to as the most segregated city in America. King and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
started mass protests in Birmingham but had little impact at first. It was not
until Good Friday, when King was arrested and spent a week in jail (JFK
Presidential Library and Museum, Web). While MLK was in jail, James Bevel, one
of King’s followers, called for black youths to march in the streets. The city
commissioner at the time Eugene “Bull” Connor used police dogs and
high-pressure fire hoses to put down the demonstration. This was broadcasted on television all over the country
and swayed many into supporting the civil rights movement after seeing such
brutal mistreatment of people. Kennedy sent troops to an Alabama air base and
his administration responded by moving up the drafting of a civil rights bill (JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Web).

            Another moment in history that
Kenney was forced to act, was the admission of two African American students to
the University of Alabama. Governor
George Wallace at his inauguration said he would defend “segregation now,
segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever” (JFK
Presidential Library and Museum, Web). He kept that promise in June of 1963,
when he stood in the schoolhouse doorway, trying to prevent the two black
students from enrolling at the university. In order to ensure their enrollment,
Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard to protect the students as they
entered the school.

            This event resulted in Kennedy’s
famous June 11th Civil Rights speech, which was a response to what
occurred at the University of Alabama. During the speech, Kennedy addressed the
nation and was the first president of the United States to make civil rights a
moral issue, not just a constitutional one. That day, Kennedy spoke with a passion that was absent in the years
prior and announced the proposal of a civil rights bill that was going to
integrate all public facilities to end segregation in education and to provide
federal protection of the right to vote. Kennedy stated “I hope that every American, regardless of where
he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related
incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It
was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the
rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened”
(Civil Rights Address, Kennedy).  Kennedy’s
rhetoric and passion left a lasting impression on Americans across the nation.

His message was a crucial part of making the movement nation wide and he will
always be remembered for that.

 A key aspect
of Kennedy getting fully on
board for civil rights was the fact that it had an influence on foreign
relationships. The United States claimed to be democratic, but people were
being attacked by law enforcement with dogs and fire hoses.

The 1963 March on Washington made Kennedy nervous.

It was the largest march in U.S. history at the time, with more than 200,000
Americans of all races. He was nervous that it would result in riots or
violence like many other demonstrations had. Kennedy urged Dr. King and others
to be particular about their word choices in order to keep the crowd calm and
not spark any rowdiness that might end badly. King complied as well as his
followers since it was important for them and the civil rights movement to have
the backing of the President. MLK delivered his I conic “I Have a Dream” speech
that day from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1963, Kennedy did propose a civil rights bill but
it was not passed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed after the
assassination by his former Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who was
inaugurated after his death, Kennedy had a significant influence over the
country’s acceptance and support in the crucial years of the civil rights