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JFKandCivilRights

CHQ:ShouldJFKberememberedasapoliticianoraCivilRightsPresident?

Document A: Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination, September 14, 1960. JFK
explains what kind of liberal he is, and presents his vision as a candidate.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label Liberal? If by Liberal they mean, as they
want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who
is unconcerned with the taxpayers dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we
are not that kind of Liberal. But if by a Liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind,
someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the
people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties --
someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad,
if that is what they mean by a Liberal, then Im proud to say Im a Liberal.
Questions:
1. What was going on in the U.S. at this time? (Refer back to text/slides)
Segregation was going on during the 1960s, but the Civil Rights Movement had also begun. According
to the slides we went over, poverty rates were high, and there were issues with education and
healthcare.

2. Using textual evidence, how does JFK define liberal? How might this differ from the Liberal
described by more conservative Democrats?
JFK believes a Liberal is someone who looks ahead and not behind, and who welcomes new ideas
without rigid reactions. However, conservative Democrats think that liberals are soft in his
policies abroad, against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayers dollar

3. How might the separation of the Democratic party affect JFKs political approval?
If the Democratic Party splits, then that means less people will be willing to vote and side with JFK.

Document B: Data and Statistics on the Election of 1960. Democrat John F. Kennedy campaigned
for the presidency in 1960 on the pledge to get the country moving again. His opponent,
Republican Richard Nixon, believed that the country was better off continuing the policies
established under Dwight Eisenhowers eight years of leadership.

The Economy
The nation was experiencing an economic recession as the 1950s came to an end. Strategies about
how to best stimulate the economy sparked debate.
Candidate Nixon- Urges economic growth through a combination of private enterprise and
individual initiative.
Candidate Kennedy- Calls for increased government intervention to stimulate the economy.
Questions:
1. How was Kennedys strategy to create economic growth different than Nixons?

2. What was going on in the US at this time? How might these events influence Kennedys use of
funds?

3. How do you think these choices might influence Kennedys political career? Who would he gain
support from?

Document C: In September 1962, James Meredith, an African American man, attempted to


register at the segregated university of Mississippi at Oxford. The registration would occur on a
Sunday, when opposition forces were least likely to be active. Federal marshals would be there to
protect Meredith. But as Kennedy prematurely announced Merediths successful registration on
national television, marshals were fighting -- and losing -- a battle to control violent segregationists
at the university. Governor Ross Barnett refused to register Meredith as a student and
announced a broadcast to ask white segregationists to prevent it from happening. On September 30,
riots broke out on campus. Federal officials accompanied Meredith to class in the months that
followed. Below is a telegram from James Farmer, National Director of the Congress of Racial
Equality (CORE) to President Kennedy, September 1962.
Questions:

1. What is this authors point-of-view on admitting James Meredith to the University of Mississippi?

2. What is the author arguing for?

3. According to this text, who do you think Kennedy would begin to gain political support from?

Document D: Below are bumper stickers made by the growing conservative faction of the
Democratic Party in the South in response to Kennedys decision to use federal troops and authority
to admit James Meredith to the previously all white University of Mississippi.

Questions:
1. What does occupied mean in this context?

2. What is the argument of these bumper stickers? Do they support or disagree with JFK?

3. What do these documents suggest about the Conservative Democrats response to Kennedys
decision to enforce Civil Rights in the South? How might this impact Kennedys approval?