A Presidential Legacy In Civil Rights

1349 words - 6 pages

Within the Civil Rights Movement, many great people come to mind, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and many others; but what about the president? President John F. Kennedy had played a large role in civil rights when he was in office, and had aided in a multitude of different programs and actions such as, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, helping with desegregation in schools and universities, and Affirmative Action within the workplace; even other family members made contributions. Both Robert and Bobby Kennedy assisted the president and even did their own work to help civil rights. Even after his death in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement didn’t stop and nor did his help. His legacy continued within civil rights with the help of Lyndon B. Johnson, his vice president who saw to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Kennedy was one of many great people to step up to injustice; in life and in death, his actions would help to shape the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement.
The start of John Kennedy’s career in civil rights had begun in the election of 1960. Kennedy would win the support of a great many of African Americans who would later vote for him as a result of his actions regarding MLK and Birmingham Jail. As found in the JFK Library, “Across the nation, more than 70 percent of African Americans voted for Kennedy, and these votes provided the winning edge in several key states ” (JFK Library Foundation 1). Because of the black vote, endorsed by none other than Martin Luther King Sr., Kennedy would end up winning a number of swing states that would secure his lead in the elections “The black vote was pivotal in the swing states of Illinois, Michigan and South Carolina that Kennedy carried” (PBS Staff). With these states, Kennedy would move on to win the election of 1960 which would set in motion his plans for civil rights.
Now that Kennedy had secured his place in the presidency, he would have to be careful when dealing with civil rights. John would have to make sure he would not overstep himself when dealing with these issues, because he would not want to lose support of Congress or many of the Senators who opposed these actions. One example of such reluctant intervention was with the Freedom Riders. Members of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, had begun their Freedom Rides in which they would take interstate buses down to the still segregated South and get off there. They were met with vehement opposition in which many were injured or worse, killed. Robert Kennedy had decided to step in when such opposition was present and “intervened to get the Riders back on their way” (PBS Staff). Robert was also spurred into action in the event of an attack in Montgomery, Alabama that forced him to send in federal marshals to protect the citizens.
John was not the only member of the Kennedy family that would assist in the Civil Rights Movement. His Brother, Robert Kennedy, had also played a multitude of roles in...

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