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John F. Kennedy
The Election of 1960- Democratic John F. Kennedy vs. Republican Richard Nixon became a turning point in American
politics as televised debates had a HUGE impact on the race—style becomes as important as substance
JFK infused the people with a renewed belief in the potential greatness of the people ……“Ask not what your
country can do for you; ask what can you do for your country”
W/ JFK the United States ushered in the “Age of Camelot”— The closest thing to royalty the US has ever had
JFK program of change for the US was dubbed the New Frontier: the three main points
1. Increase aid for education
2. Expand social welfare programs
3. Alter Cold War policies
Domestically JFK had difficulties getting many of his programs passed due in large part to the irritation some felt about his
background and his personality. JFK’s idealism was limited by a resistant Congress
JFK est. the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women to combat gender discrimination
JFK is often given credit for aiding the civil rights movement. While the civil rights movement did gain momentum
during his time in office, it had little to do with his policies. Why?
Because JFK had little support within Congress he could not push the issue of civil rights w/o alienating the southern
states. Pressure from anti-segregation groups got JFK to push civil rights legislation
During the Kennedy years the Supreme Court took an active role in social issues. Lead by Chief Justice Earl Warren who was
appointed by Ike, the “Warren Court” played a powerful role in shaping national policy.
Key decisions dealt with issues of due process, freedom of religion, free speech and civil rights
Miranda vs. Arizona— police must inform suspects of their rights during the arrest process
Gideon v Wainwright-- Suspects are entitled to court appointed attorney if they cant afford one
Mapp v Ohio—Unlawfully seized evidence is inadmissible at trial
Abington School District v Schempp-- State mandated bible reading in school banned
Griswold vs. Connecticut - ruled that prohibiting the sale of birth control devices violated the right to privacy
JFK & foreign policy
JFK believed that Eisenhower relied too much on nuclear weapons and pushed for a more conventional build up of
military forces to allow for a more “flexible response” to conflict
JFK believed that if a region was stable it would be less likely to be threatened by communism
Alliance for Progress gave 20 million dollars to Latin America nations to lessen the threat of communism. It
turned out to be not very successful as much of the money went into pockets of dictators
To help countries in need JFK started the Peace Corps- which sent American volunteers to the developing world
“The space race”--- As an extension of the cold war JFK created NASA & pledged to land a man on the on the moon by 1970
USSR was trying secretly to do this, too, and was just behind the US
April 12, 1961 -- Yuri Gagarin became first human to orbit Earth
May 5, 1961 -- Alan Shepard flew for 15 min. on sub-orbital flight
Feb. 1962 -- John Glenn first US astronaut to orbit Earth
1969—Neil Armstrong—the first man to walk on the moon
To combat communism in Cuba JFK decided to follow through w/ a plan drawn up during the Eisenhower
administration to overthrow the Castro regime–How?
Use the CIA to train1, 500 Anti-Castro rebels and support the invasion of Cuba through the air
The landing at the Bay of Pigs was a disaster --The Cubans did not rise up & JFK decided at the last minute to
not send in air support --- As a result ---- 1,200 rebels were captured
JFK & the administration was humiliated
They had to pay for the release of the prisoners
The consequences of the Bay of Pigs were huge--1. JFK not longer trusted the CIA
2. Castro was very fearful of invasion and assassination
3. The USSR believed they could push the US out of Berlin
Since the end of the war Berlin had been split between the free west and communist east. By 1961 thousands of East
Germans headed west for a better life. Thus creating a “brain drain” in the east-o
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev decided to sealed off East Berliners from all western contact in order to
push the US out of Berlin once and for all
After the showdown at Checkpoint Charlie in which the US once again showed its willingness to protect West
Berlin, JFK visited the city and in a speech he declared “Ich bin ein Berliner”
Despite international opposition ---the Berlin Wall remained intact for 38 years
The Cuban missile crisis—
Following the attempted invasion at the Bay of Pigs Fidel Castro had lived in fear of impending invasion from the US -His fear nearly led to World War III and the end of the world as we know it
In 1962 an American spy plane spotted a Soviet nuclear missile sites being built in Cuba—90 miles from the US
JFK immediately ordered a “quarantine” of Cuba & the US brought pictures to the UN Security Council
While the US waited for a response from the UN, Russian ships w/ additional missiles began heading to Cuba.
JFK authorized the US navy to use force to stop them
The US finalized plans for the bombing and invasion of Cuba and the world waited for 13 days as the US and
USSR were locked in a deadly game of chicken
At the last moment Nikita Khrushchev backed down---and a deal was made between the US & USSR
All missile bases on Cuba would be removed
The US promised never to invade Cuba
The US removed missiles from Turkey
The Death of JFK-- After a very intense first two years in office JFK made a visit to Dallas November 22, 1963. In a
motorcade on his way to a luncheon Kennedy was shot and killed and Texas Governor John Connolly was wounded
The police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a pro-communist ex-marine who had once defected to the USSR--Oswald
worked in the Texas Book Depository where his rifle was found
Before police could learn more about Oswald--he was murdered by Jack Ruby who had “ties” to organized crime—
New Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination
The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone—despite the fact that witnesses claim to have heard
shots coming from the grassy knoll—
So if Oswald did not act alone---Who killed JFK?---Was it the Soviets, the CIA, Castro, or the mob?
Taking over for JFK was Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)- a smooth talking Texan who was a very able and dedicated leader.
LBJ had only a year until he had to run for re-election, working in his favor was the fact that the Republicans chose
Barry Goldwater –he opposed to civil rights & social programs & he had a deep distrust of the USSR
The Democrats ran a smear campaign claiming Goldwater would get the US into war w/ Russia. And LBJ was able
to win the election of 1964 in a rout.
LBJ’ s political platform was centered around creating a “Great Society” in which more people had their basic
needs met. Eventually “Great Society” programs were overshadowed by the war in Vietnam
To address the deterioration of the inner cities, LBJ est. the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development which he
named Robert Weaver as its head—The 1st African American cabinet member
The VISTA program was est. --Much like the Peace Corps it was designed to send volunteers into the most
impoverished parts of the country
To provide medical assistance for all people over 65 the government established Medicare & Medicad
“Separate but equal?”
In the south, African Americans were living in a “whites only” world. Since 1909 the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had been fighting against Southern segregation in the Courts
In1942 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded by white & African American pacifists dedicated to
bringing change through non-violent conflict
After WWII the NAACP began to focus their efforts to legally overturn the “separate but equal" doctrine est. by
1896 Supreme Court case “Plessy v. Ferguson”
Topeka, Kansas--In 1954 the NAACP filed a suit on behalf of Linda Brown, an African-American elementary school
student, who had been denied Brown admission to an all-white school due to her skin tone
Thurgood Marshall, who represented Linda Brown, charged that the school segregation violated the "equal
protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.
Marshall argued that”separate could not be equal because it lowered the motivation of black students.
Chief Justice Earl Warren and the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. the Board of Education that integration in
the schools had to take place "with all deliberate speed."
In response to the Supreme Court ruling a group of 101 Southern members of Congress signed the Southern
Manifesto which claimed the ruling was “a clear abuse of judicial power”
The Civil Rights Movement picks up speed
Montgomery Bus Boycott--December 11, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give
her bus seat to a white man. She was found guilty and fined $14;
Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) – Pastor who become the leader of the civil rights movement
MLK believed in the use of non-violent civil disobedience –similar to Mohandas Gandhi he urged followers not
to fight with authorities even if provoked
Dr. King used various tactics to try and bring about change- and in this case the plan was to hit the bus
company in the pocketbook by asking African Americans to boycott the buses.
After the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was illegal & the boycott the bus company was legal
– The bus company was finally forced to give in
By 1959 many states in the south were able to block desegregation. Little Rock, Arkansas, because of its
segregationist school board, quickly became the focus of the NAACP
The federal govt. ordered the school board to integrate but Gov. Orval Faubus had the National Guard
surround Central High School to prevent the nine black students ("Little Rock Nine") from entering
After a federal court ordered National Guard to allow the students into the school riots erupted.
Eisenhower decided to send 1000 federal troops into Little Rock to protect the students
Following the crisis at Little Rock, Congress passed the first piece of Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was designed to protect the rights of African Americans to vote
Southern Senators tried to stop the act but they were able to weaken the bill
The main provisions of the act did two things
1. It created a civil rights division in the Justice Department
2. The Govt. could intercede against anyone trying to limit the right to vote
By the late 1950’s & 1960’s there were numerous groups organized to address the inequality within the nation—The
overall focus of the movement centered on integration and acceptance through non-violence
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) –a church based group founded by Dr. King which
registered two million new African American voters
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)- a breakaway group from the SCLC- who wanted a more
active approach in the movement .
SNCC was driven by men such as Robert Moses who organized the Freedom Summer which was intended to
increase voter registration in the rural south. & Marion Barry who would later become Mayor of Washington D.C.
As time went Civil Rights groups began to push harder for change to the laws of segregation throughout the south
1960 Greensborough, North Carolina, four black college students staged a sit in at segregated lunch counter at a
Woolworth’s after they were refused service
After the arrests of the students --similar protests at lunch counters across the South soon followed. In about a
year 70,000 students participated in sit-in’s and 3,600 were arrested
Members of CORE and SNCC decided to use Freedom Rides to test a Supreme Court decision which outlawed
segregation on buses traveling across state lines –
Press coverage of the Freedom Riders worked in favor of the movement as the pictures compelled the attorney
general to provide police protection for the riders
One of the many key moments in the movement was the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962
Air force vet James Meredith tried transferring from Ole Miss—but was denied on the basis of race –
eventually he took his case to the Supreme Court and won
But Gov. Ross Barnett physically blocked the entrance and violence erupted with two people being killed
JFK eventually sent in the army to guard Meredith while he went to school
Birmingham, Alabama- given its rigid segregation Dr. King targeted the city---But he is arrested for having a parade w/o a
permit. After getting out of jail he decided to let children take part in the march
Police Chief Eugene “bull” Connor unleashed the dogs and water hoses on television for all to see---
After the confrontation federal pressure on the city mounted and concessions were made allowing for
desegregation and equal hiring practices
The high point of the civil rights movement came following the ---March on Washington—200,000 take part in the largest
ever peace in US history—culminating in the Martin Luther king “I have a Dream” speech.
After the death of JFK—Lyndon Johnson was able to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which
1) Banned segregation in all public places
2) Outlawed discrimination by employers
3) Gave the govt. more power to prevent discrimination
Members of SNCC formed frustrated w/ being shut out of the election process the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
(MFDP) to represent African Americans at the 1964 democratic convention
Fannie Lou Hamer, who was arrested and beaten trying to register African Americans to vote, became a
focal point of the MFDP
Though unable to achieve their goal they opened the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which gave
the federal government the ability to appoint examiners to register all voters
While progress was being made dealing w/ De Jure” segregation- (the laws of the south) —African Americans were
becoming increasingly upset w/ a more subtle but no less damaging form of discrimination in the north
In northern cities “De facto” segregation “ruled” as African Americans were separated into ghettos w/ limited
access to equal education or jobs
Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam took a completely different approach to race relations than that of Dr. King
Malcolm X became the most vocal and noticeable voice of the group –he called for a separate African American
society away from the white community
He argued that economic and political equality must be obtained by “any means necessary”
After a pilgrimage to Mecca, he began to think that an integrated society was possible
After moving away from the racist rhetoric of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm was expelled from the group and
eventually assassinated
As the civil rights movement progressed many blacks were becoming increasingly impatient with MLK non-violent
methods—Born out of this frustration was the “Black Power” movement which sought to make changes more quickly
As an umbrella term the phrase “Black Power” had many different interpretations. The most overarching of
which was that African Americans should take sole responsibility for the civil rights movement
As the movement continued even more “radical” voices, such as the Black Panthers, spoke of forming an
armed resistance in order to force white communities to grant equal rights
Eldridge Cleaver - Founder of the “Black Panthers” & writer of “Soul on Ice”
Stokely Charmichael – “Freedom flows from the barrel of a gun”
The Black Panthers were the most “militant” about protecting the rights of African Americans even if it meant
armed conflict with the police
The Civil Rights movement starts to struggle ----- after numerous attempts on Dr. King’s life the end comesa. April 4 1968 Memphis Tennessee a snipers bullet rips through his jaw—he died an hour later
b. The assassin James Earl Ray confessed then quickly recanted—till the day he died they worked for a new trial
c. The murder of Dr. King resulted in riots in 124 cities throughout the nation
After Dr. King’s death the civil rights began to slow down and eventually stop—Why? 3 reasons
o Whites in northern cities opposed bussing intended to create racial balance within in schools
o Giving minorities preferential treatment through affirmative action is seen by some as reverse discrimination
o The increasing involvement of the US in Vietnam shifted Americans focus on to the war