OTD in History… June 20, 1963, President Kennedy establishes direct hotline to the Soviet Union

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

OTD in History… June 20, 1963, President Kennedy establishes direct hotline to the Soviet Union

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history, June 20, 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement creating a direct hotline between the two countries, which President John F. Kennedy had negotiated after the slow exchange of messages during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis put the countries at the precipice of nuclear war. The hotline still exists between the United States and Russia; however, the technology has been updated three times since the agreement was signed in 1963.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis the previous October 16–28, 1962, the US and Soviet Union had a confrontation over each other’s nuclear weapons. The Americans had weapons stored in Italy and Turkey and the Soviets were planning to transport nuclear weapons to Cuba, in order to deter another American invasion like the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. After a U-2 spy plane discovered the missile facilities in Cuba, President Kennedy ordered a blockade to deter any further ballistic missiles reaching Cuba and demanding the Soviets dismantle those already in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union. The negotiations between the two nations were long and tense. It took 12 hours for the Kennedy Administration to “receive and decode” Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev’s 3,000-word settlement. The administration drafted a reply and in the interim, the Soviets sent another message demanding the US to remove their missiles in Turkey.

Quicker communications between the US and Russia might have resolved the crisis more swiftly and with less threat of a nuclear war. The nations decided to establish a “hotline” for faster and direct communications to avert further crises. In June 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed hotline agreement formally called the “Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link.” The agreement outlined, “For use in time of emergency the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have agreed to establish as soon as technically feasible a direct communications link between the two Governments.”

On June 20, President Kennedy released a statement about the hotline, saying, “This age of fast-moving events requires quick, dependable communications for use in time of emergency…. both Governments have taken a first step to help reduce the risk of war occurring by accident or miscalculation. This agreement on a communications link is a limited but practical step forward in arms control and disarmament.” August 30, 1963, was the first time the system was used. The phrase the US sent was “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890,” because it utilized the entire alphabet and numerals.

The hotline was not a “red telephone” but encrypted messages sent through telegraph wires and using teletype machines. The system consisted of “two terminal points with teletype equipment, a full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit and a full-time radiotelegraph circuit.” Kennedy would send a telephone message to the Pentagon, where they would encrypt the message and then send it through a transmitter. The US first used the hotline to notify the Soviet of Kennedy’s assassination. President Lyndon Johnson, however, was the first president to use the hotline. In 1967, he responded then-Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin during the Six Day War in the Middle East. Johnson warned the Soviet leader who was supporting the Arab nations that he was considering sending the Air Force to aid Israel.

In 1984, the hotline changed over to fax machines, while since 2008 it has been through secure emails on a computer network. The system has worked, and never has the two countries ever been at the precipice of nuclear war as they had been in 1962. In 2010, President Barack Obama joked that social media was replacing the hotline, “We may be able to finally throw away those red phones that have been sitting around for so long.” Recently American relations with Russia have turned frosty under Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the US should not consider retiring those phones just yet.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Advertisements

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy orders the National Guard to desegregate the University of Alabama

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy orders the National Guard to desegregate the University of Alabama

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy orders the National Guard to force Alabama Governor Wallace to end his blockade and desegregate the University of Alabama. June 11, 1963, was a busy day for the civil rights movement. Early in the day, Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace delivered his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Speech.” Alabama was the only state that still did not desegregate their schools, Democrat Wallace entered office earlier in the year promising “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace was unyielding refusing to negotiate and compromise with the Kennedy Administration, hoping instead for a confrontation that would elevate his status, while diminishing Kennedy in the Deep South.

Wallace physically prevented two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from completing their registration at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wallace literally stood in front of the school’s Foster Auditorium door blocking Malone and Hood from entering. Wallace attempted to prevent the university’s integration despite a court order the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

When Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach asked Wallace to move aside, he refused. Instead, Wallace delivered his infamous speech on states’ rights. Wallace called the desegregation an “unwelcomed, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus” and “a frightful example of the expression of the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of this state.” (Brinkley, 109) Katzenbach then contacted President Kennedy.

President Kennedy again was forced to federalize the Alabama National Guard Executive Order 11111 to end the conflict. Kennedy issued Presidential Proclamation 3542 to force Wallace to comply and allow the students to enter the university building and complete their registration. Four hours later Wallace finally moved aside after being by Guard General Henry Graham, allowing for the integration of the University. Wallace made national headlines upping his profile, but also forcing Kennedy’s hand that he had no choice left but to announce his intentions to introduce a civil rights bill to Congress.

SOURCES

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Dallek, Robert. John F. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

 

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy addresses civil rights to the nation

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy addresses civil rights to the nation

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

John F. Kennedy delivering the Civil Rights Address (Wikimedia Commons)

On This Day in History… June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address on civil rights to the nation from the White House Oval Office paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two days in June 1963 have been highlighted as part the pantheon of major turning points in American history. The recently published “Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Changed History” by award-winning journalist and Canadian political author Andrew Cohen in 2014 highlighted the importance of those two days to both the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War and the Kennedy presidency.

Cohen emphasized the magnitude of the events and particularly two speeches Kennedy delivered one on foreign policy at the commencement at American University and the other televised to the nations advancing civil rights. Cohen explained, “To the calendar, June 10 and June 11, 1963, was late spring; to history, it was high summer. Great forces converged and smaller ones emerged over these forty-eight hours, bracketed by two imperishable speeches. One produced an arms treaty, the first of the Cold War. The other produced a civil rights law, the most important of its time” (p. 19)

Cohen indicated the importance of those dates in the Kennedy Presidency, but a recent op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal by author Joel Engel went further. Engel in his article entitled “Three Days That Changed the World, Not That the World Noticed” elevated the significance of three days in June 1963 as major turning points in history. Engel noted, “History is in part the observation of consequential days, tragic and joyous. Americans celebrate July 4 and commemorate Sept. 11. We remember Dec. 7 and honor June 6. In those four days, major events bore consequences that changed the world. But at no time in American history have there been three days like June 10–12, 1963, during which several unrelated events altered the nation’s course as surely as had the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

June 11 and 12, 1963 represented a tide that turned in the battle African-Americans had been waging to obtain civil and equal rights in the United States. All the more significant, 1963 was the bicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation were in the midst of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln granted freedom to America’s slaves. Freedom did not mean equality, although initially through Reconstruction African-Americans saw gains with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution soon segregationist Jim Crow laws segregating African-American settled in throughout the South leaving a new form of bondage.

Throughout, African-Americans were slowly fighting back, primarily with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded in 1909; the best way to move forward was within the court system. Any gains were minimal until a major victory in the Supreme Court by the landmark ruling of the Brown v Board of Education. The decision declared separate segregated school, were not equal but also illegal.

A legal victory was not a practical one; the south remained unwilling to desegregate their schools, and only 10 percent of schools desegregated by the end of the decade. Desegregation took a turn when in 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the National Guard to “enforce the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.” Afterward, desegregation sped up in public schools, but in every other way of life, it remained at a standstill. In 1960 and 1961, sit-ins and freedom rides attempted to desegregate lunch counters and buses. The gains remained modest under Democrat John F. Kennedy’s presidency despite the sympathetic rhetoric, but only minor action.

The spring of 1963 was paving the way to those two fateful days that would lead to a turning point. The push for desegregation gained momentum with the rise of a charismatic and eloquent leader; Montgomery, Alabama, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s non-violent protests became a hallmark of the civil rights movement, and integral part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which King helped found in 1957, and also served as president. King gained prominence as the leader of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott in the winter of 1955–56 at just 26.

In the interim, King’s movement would continue to make news, but King again made headlines in the spring of 1963 with a string of protests in Birmingham, Alabama, which King called “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.” Throughout the spring, from April 3 to May 10, King along with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and James Bevel of the SCLC led activists in the Birmingham campaign, who protested with sit-ins, marches and a boycott, most leading to clashes with the local police.

One of the most notable occurred on Good Friday, April 12, 1963, where King was arrested for his 13th time. King would remain in jail for a week staying longer than necessary mostly to publicize the movement. There he wrote his famous treatise “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the letter was a response to a letter eight religious leaders wrote criticizing him in Birmingham’s newspaper. King defended the movement’s methods and criticizing the leaders saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” President Kennedy eventually intervened leading to King’s release on April 20.

The demonstrations continued and the violent tactics of Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor, continued. On May 2, what was later dubbed the “Children’s Crusade,” protest led to nearly 1000 arrests and Connor used “fire hoses and police dogs” on the young school age protesters. The televised images gripped the nation with the New York Times publishing a photo of dogs attacking a 17-year-old student on their front page. At the time Kennedy remarked, “The other problem is the problem of civil rights… What a disaster that picture is. That picture is not only in America but all around the world.”

There was a brief moment of peace, on May 11, civil rights leaders and city and business owners in Birmingham signed the “Birmingham Truce Agreement.” The deal allowed for a “partial desegregation (of fitting rooms, water fountains, and lunch counters in retail stores).” Additionally, those arrested during the campaign would be released, and there would be the creation of a Committee on Racial Problems and Employment.

On the evening of May 11, segregationists most probably members of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama targeted civil rights leaders with bombs including the home of Rev. A. D. King, movement leader, King’s brother and the Gaston Motel, where King was staying and held a press conference the day before. The non-violence espoused by King turned to violent protests and riots later in the evening.

The violence forced President Kennedy to act; he sent “troops to an Alabama air base” and began the process of “drafting” a proposed civil rights bill to send to Congress. Addressing the nation, Kennedy balked at addressing the larger issue at hand, civil rights. Instead, while addressing the nation Kennedy said, “This Government will do whatever must be done to preserve order, to protect the lives of its citizens, and to uphold the law of the land.” (Brinkley, 106) The morality of civil rights would have to wait a month.

Still, according to historian Nicholas Andrew Bryant in his highly critical book, “The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality,” (2006) Kennedy refused to bring about legislation throughout the Birmingham Campaign, and only considered action after the riots broke out. Bryant, who examined the Kennedy civil rights legacy throughout his entire political career, questioned why it took the president over two years to get to the issue and pursue legislation.

Sheldon M. Stern points out that according to Bryant Kennedy had “a willingness to make important symbolic gestures about race and civil rights, coupled with a reluctance to take political risks.” (Hoberek, 79) Bryant also concluded Kennedy’s civil rights record showed a “symbolic approach to the race problem meant that many of the changes he ushered in were largely cosmetic.” (Hoberek, 85) Historian Alan Brinkley writing his biography John F. Kennedy as part of the American Presidents Series concurs, writing that towards civil rights Kennedy had a “pattern of rhetorical activism followed by resistance and delay began on his very first day in office.”

The pivotal moment that changed Kennedy perception on civil rights was viewing African-Americans fighting back with the May 11 race riots. Kennedy could no longer sit idly by; civil rights had also become law and order issues that he could not let go unresolved. Bryant analyzes in his book, “It was the black-on-white violence of May 11 — not the publication of the startling photograph a week earlier — that represented the real watershed in Kennedy’s thinking, and the turning point in administration policy. Kennedy had grown used to segregationist attacks against civil rights protesters. But he — along with his brother and other administration officials — was far more troubled by black mobs running amok.” (Bryant, 393)

A taped conversation between the president and his brother and Attorney General Robert Kennedy from the Oval Office confirmed his motivation. Kennedy indicated on May 12, “First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation up to Congress this week as our response…As a means of providing relief, we have to have legislation.”

June 11, 1963, was a busy day for the civil rights movement. Earlier, Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace delivered his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Speech.” Alabama was the only state that still did not desegregate their schools, Democrat Wallace entered office earlier in the year promising “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace was unyielding refusing to negotiate and compromise with the Kennedy Administration, hoping instead for a confrontation that would elevate his status, while diminishing Kennedy in the Deep South.

Wallace physically prevented two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from completing their registration at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wallace literally stood in front of the school’s Foster Auditorium door blocking Malone and Hood from entering. Wallace attempted to prevent the university’s integration despite a court order the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

When Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach asked Wallace to move aside, he refused. Instead, Wallace delivered his infamous speech on states’ rights. Wallace called the desegregation an “unwelcomed, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus” and “a frightful example of the expression of the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of this state.” (Brinkley, 109) Katzenbach then contacted President Kennedy.

President Kennedy again was forced to federalize the Alabama National Guard Executive Order 11111 to end the conflict. Kennedy issued Presidential Proclamation 3542 to force Wallace to comply and allow the students to enter the university building and complete their registration. Four hours later Wallace finally moved aside after being by Guard General Henry Graham, allowing for the integration of the University. Wallace made national headlines upping his profile, but also forcing Kennedy’s hand that he had no choice left but to announce his intentions to introduce a civil rights bill to Congress.

Kennedy’s address would have an adverse reaction on civil rights leaders. Just hours later in the early morning of June 12, Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. Evers was African-American civil rights activist and the field secretary for the Mississippi state NAACP, who earlier in the day demanded desegregation from local leaders. Byron De La Beckwith, who belonged to the segregated group the White Citizens’ Council, shot Evers in the back as he entered his home after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Although De La Beckwith was first arrested on June 21, 1963, for Evers’ murder, it took until 1994 for him to be convicted of the crime.

It was against this turmoil in the nation over civil rights that President Kennedy called and booked time on all three major networks for him to speak to the nation at 8 PM EDT on civil rights and the situation in Alabama in his “Report to the American People on Civil Rights.” Kennedy decided the time was ripe to announce his intention to introduce civil rights legislation. As Cohen recounted, “The pretext was Tuscaloosa (today’s confrontation), the context was Birmingham (the unrest there elsewhere that spring), and the subtext was Washington (to make the case for legislation.)” (321)

It was a hastily drafted speech by Ted Sorensen in a mere two hours and revised by Kennedy. Sorenson looked back at past speeches he created for Kennedy on the issue, his own experience, and softened the rhetoric of the past few days. The president’s brother Bobby Kennedy was not pleased with Sorenson’s quickly written speech and even requested civil rights advisor Lee White to assist. The short time to draft the speech made Kennedy nervous, even doubtful if should even deliver it according to White’s observations.

Kennedy’s other poet laureate historian Arthur Schlesinger was nowhere to be found despite attempts to reach him when they did finally reach him it was too late for him to help with the speech. In the end, White did not add to the speech, but aide Louis Martin did, however, Sorenson never gave him authorship credit. The speech was not completed in time, and President Kennedy was receiving pages just as he was about to start. Kennedy determined Sorenson’s speech was too short, and he needed to fill up time, added eight paragraphs “off-the-cuff” (Cohen, 338) to the address, which is considered the best lines. The “moral issue” would be the speech’s overriding theme.

The President told Americans that segregation is a “moral issue” that is wrong. Kennedy stated; “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” President Kennedy accomplished two points in his speech, the introduction of civil rights legislation, and the beginning of significant comprehensive school desegregation.

Kennedy pleaded to the American people that civil rights are the responsibility of all citizens; “It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all… Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Kennedy specifically emphasized the lack of action since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1954. The landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case ended the legality of the separate but equal system. Kennedy lamented; “Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job. The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.”

In his speech, President Kennedy began an active pursuit of Congressional legislation that would end segregation. Kennedy laid out his legislative plans, “Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law…. I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public-hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.”

President Kennedy also introduced the pursuit of the vote for all African-Americans. The president stated, “Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But the legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” With his speech that night, Kennedy was pushing in motion not only the Civil Rights Act, but also the subsequent Voting Rights Act passed two years later in 1965 which guaranteed the vote to all Americans.

Kennedy concluded his 15-minute speech with a request for support from the American public for his sweeping and necessary proposals. The proposals were based on Constitutional rights for all Americans. Kennedy expressed to the nation, “Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents… This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.” Cohen described the speech as “a triumph. These were words written in haste for the ages. It was a knock-down, flat-out masterpiece.” (Cohen, 338) Meanwhile, historian Garth E. Pauley in “The Modern Presidency and Civil Rights” called the speech “the first sustained moral argument by an American President on civil rights.” (Hoberek, 77)

President Kennedy no longer wanted to be the bystander as Bryant called him, but he wanted to take his longtime rhetoric on civil rights and turn it into action. Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger about his decision to move, then on the bill, he “thought more highly of American Presidents” who emphasized “concrete achievement rather than political education.” Kennedy’s civil rights speech as Cohen indicated, “was the moment a president pivoted. Kennedy was moving from detachment to engagement, from being a transactional president — as political scientists would classify leadership of a certain type a half century later — top a transformative one.” (Cohen, 338)

Kennedy submitted a civil rights bill to Congress the next week on June 19, which historian Robert Dallek in his biography of President Kennedy, an Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 described as “the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country’s history.” (Dallek) The law would guarantee the right to vote for all with the minimum of a sixth-grade education, and end discrimination in all public and commercial facilities establishments and accommodations.

Kennedy also requested that the attorney general is granted expanded powers to implement school desegregation, asked to end job discrimination and create job training opportunities and a “community relations service.” Kennedy used the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution to justify the contents of his proposed bill.

The leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. approved of President Kennedy’s speech and described it as ‘the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president.’” Initially, King told Reverend Walter Fauntroy who he was watching the speech with, “can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit over the fence!” (Cohen, 339) Publicly King sent Kennedy a wire saying, “I have just listened to your speech to the nation. It was one of the most eloquent, profound and unequivocal pleas for justice and freedom of all men ever made by a president. You spoke passionately for the moral issues involved in the integration struggle.” (Cohen, 339) Kennedy, however, faced a tougher response from Congress.

Still, King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered on August 28, 1963, over two months later during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would eclipse Kennedy’s speech as the most relevant to advancing civil rights. Although a pivotal moment, the march attended by 200,000 to 300,000, concerned Kennedy who asked King to cancel it, fearing “a big show on the Capitol” would hinder the passage of the civil rights bill. Kennedy even refused to meet with the delegation of civil rights leaders at the White House before the march concerned it could cause demonstrations. Instead, Kennedy opted for meeting King and the other leaders of the major organizations after the march ended that day.

Kennedy was right, he would not see the civil rights bill his administration authored passed into law, or even debated and put to vote on the floor of Congress. President Kennedy continued pushing Congress to pass civil rights legislation with bipartisan support in the following months but to no avail. Civil rights were one of four bills, Kennedy wanted to be passed, but never did in his lifetime, the others were a “tax cut, federal aid to education, and Medicare.” (Cohen, 360) Kennedy’s agenda stalled mostly because of his civil rights bills that led to anger from Southern Democrats and in general from the south. Kennedy would be assassinated months later, on November 23, in Dallas, Texas leaving his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson from Texas to take over the mantle.

Pursuing civil rights, however, would become central to Kennedy’s legacy. Nevertheless, as Brinkley noted, there was a “harsh and often violent opposition that made it unlikely that his civil rights legislation would succeed soon. His tragic death, and the political skills of Lyndon Johnson, made possible the passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation. But John Kennedy — and the great movement that he finally embraced — was essential to great achievements.” (Brinkley, 112)

President Kennedy’s address to the nation on June 11 altered forever the direction of civil rights in the country. Historian Penial E. Joseph says it “might have been the single most important day in civil rights history.” Joseph also noted, “without the moral forcefulness of the June 11th speech, the bill might never have gone anywhere.” (Hoborek, 78) Without President Kennedy haven taken initial action with this speech and laying out his bold vision and plan to make a civil rights a reality for all Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never have passed and signed into law on July 2, 1964.

Sources:

Brinkley, Alan. John F. Kennedy. New York: Times Books, 2012.

Bryant, Nick. The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Cohen, Andrew. Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History. [Toronto, Ontario]: Signal, McClelland & Stewart, 2016.

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Dallek, Robert. John F. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Hoberek, Andrew. The Cambridge Companion to John F. Kennedy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Joseph, Peniel E. “Kennedy’s Finest Moment,” The New York Times, June 10, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/opinion/kennedys-civil-rights-triumph.html. Accessed June 12, 2017.

Pauley, Garth E. The Modern Presidency & Civil Rights: Rhetoric on Race from Roosevelt to Nixon. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2001.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

On this day in history November 22, 1963: President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas launching four days of national mourning

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

On this day in history November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas launching four days of national mourning

Prior to the assassination, President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally ride through the streets of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Included as an exhibit for the Warren Commission. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Prior to the assassination, President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally ride through the streets of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Included as an exhibit for the Warren Commission. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On this day in history… November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States (1961-63) was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. by Lee Harvey Oswald, while in a Presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas heading towards the Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was in an open limousine waving at the cheering crowd with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nelly when three shots in succession erupted, which hit the President, and the Governor. Governor Connally was hit just once, while President Kennedy was hit twice, fatally. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 46 years-old, 30 minutes after the shooting. For three days after the shooting, the nation mourned the loss of their young president culminating in a state funeral on November 25.

President Kennedy’s visit to Texas was part of his early re-election campaign strategy, where he hoped in 1964 to win Florida and Texas. Although the president had not formally announced his re-election, he already started touring states. In Texas, Kennedy was looking to bring squabbling factions of the state’s Democratic Party together. President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie left Washington on Thursday, Nov. 21, where they would go on a “two-day, five-city tour of Texas.”

On that fateful day, Friday, Nov. 22, the Kennedys started out in Fort Worth that rainy morning, before taking a thirteen-minute flight to Dallas. Arriving at Love Field, the Kennedys were greeted by the public, with someone handing Jackie a bouquet of red roses. In Dallas, the rain stopped, and the Kennedys joined the Texas first couple the Connallys in a now open top, convertible. They had to travel only ten miles to reach their destination, the Trade Mart; Kennedy was supposed to address a “luncheon.”

They never reached there. On route, Kennedy and Connally were both shot, but the president more seriously, with wounds in his head and neck, he “slumped over” into Jackie’s lap, and where she shielded him as the motorcade now sped to Parkland Memorial Hospital. There was little that could be done to save the president, and he received last rites before being announced dead at 1 p.m., a mere half hour after he was shot. In the book “The Kennedy Detail” Secret Service agent Clint Hill recalled, “It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president’s death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don’t talk to anybody about that day.

President Kenney would return to Love Field where barely three hours before he arrived alive, leaving in a casket boarding Air Force One. Inside the “crowded” plane US District Court Judge Sarah Hughes swore in Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson as the 36th US president at 2:38 p.m. Jackie Kennedy was standing by Johnson’s side, still wearing the clothes stained with the president’s blood.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 22:  VP Lyndon Johnson (C) taking oath of office from Judge Sarah Hughes (back to camera) after President Kennedy's assassination aboard Air Force One. Former First Lady Jackie Kennedy (R), imminent First Lady Lady Bird (L), Jack Valenti, Congressmen Albert Thomas  (Photo by Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 22: VP Lyndon Johnson (C) taking oath of office from Judge Sarah Hughes (back to camera) after President Kennedy’s assassination aboard Air Force One. Former First Lady Jackie Kennedy (R), imminent First Lady Lady Bird (L), Jack Valenti, Congressmen Albert Thomas (Photo by Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

CBS News was the first to report Kennedy had been shot at 12:40 p.m. CT as the network cut into popular soap opera “As the World Turns” to report what had happened to the president. Anchor Walter Cronkite went live at 12:48 p.m. Cronkite announced the president’s death as he took off his glasses and wiped the tears from his eyes. There was an immediate outpouring of grief by the nation after news of the assassination broke, as they mourned the loss of an idealized young President. Robert Thompson, “a professor of pop culture and television at Syracuse University” commented, “While we didn’t see the assassination live, the television show about the assassination was a four-day long drama that played on national television.”

American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite removes his glasses while announcing the death of President John F. Kennedy as seen from a television monitor, November 22, 1963. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite removes his glasses while announcing the death of President John F. Kennedy as seen from a television monitor, November 22, 1963. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Police arrested Oswald, an hour after the shots were fired. Oswald, a Soviet sympathizer with ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, had shot Kennedy from the school book depository building, where he recently began to work. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner fatally shot Oswald, as he was being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail; Ruby claimed he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy any further grief.

The nation proceeded into four days of mourning, culminating three days later on November 25, 1963, when a state funeral was held for the slain president. According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Jackie  Kennedy modeled the funeral after President Abraham Lincoln’s, Lincoln had been assassinated nearly a 100 years before. On Saturday, November 23, as Kennedy’s body was in repose in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours, President Johnson declared the day a national day of mourning. On Sunday, November 24, the President’s coffin was carried by the same horse-drawn carriage as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Unknown Soldier before him, to the Capitol building where his body laid in state for 21 hours, with 250,000 people visiting his casket in the Capitol’s Rotunda.

On that Monday, November 25, one million people gathered on the route of the processional from the Capitol to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where the funeral was held. Foreign dignitaries from 100 countries, including 19 heads of state came to pay their respects, and millions of Americans and  23 countries watched the assassination coverage and then funeral on TV, which was covered by then three big networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC. John B. Mayo in his 1967 book “Bulletin From Dallas: The President Is From Dead” determined that “CBS clocked in with 55 total hours, ABC played 60 hours and NBC – airing an all-night vigil from the Capitol Rotunda on Sunday – broadcast 71 hours of coverage that weekend.”

After the Requiem Mass, as the President’s body was carried from the cathedral, three-year-old John Jr. saluted his father’s casket giving the mourning nation an iconic image to remember. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after the service Jackie Kennedy and the president’s brothers Robert and Edward lit an eternal flame that remains burning over the President’s gravesite.

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES:  (FILES)Jacqueline Kennedy(C) stands with her two children Caroline Kennedy(L) and John F. Kennedy, Jr.(R) and brothers-in law Ted Kennedy (L, back) and Robert Kennedy (2ndR) at the funeral of her husband US President John F. Kennedy 26 November 1963 in Washington, DC. The 40th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy is remembered on 22 November 2003. AFP PHOTO  (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: (FILES)Jacqueline Kennedy(C) stands with her two children Caroline Kennedy(L) and John F. Kennedy, Jr.(R) and brothers-in law Ted Kennedy (L, back) and Robert Kennedy (2ndR) at the funeral of her husband US President John F. Kennedy 26 November 1963 in Washington, DC. The 40th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy is remembered on 22 November 2003. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2010, historian Ellen Fitzpatrick published her book “Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation.” Speaking to PBS’s Newshour about the purpose of the book and looking back at the memory of President Kennedy, she claimed; “And what I was trying to get at was how Americans at the moment viewed John F. Kennedy. It seemed to me that, in the decades since his death, there’s been so much historical revisionism, much of it appropriate, that dismantled the hagiography that grew up around him in the immediate aftermath of his assassination.”

Continuing, Fitzpatrick explained, “It had become increasingly difficult for students, for younger people, even people of my own generation, to recover that moment, the kind of idealism and faith that people had and the way that President Kennedy was viewed in his time… So, I was thinking, how can I recapture this? And I went into the archives. I asked the archivist. I remembered the condolence letters. I remembered Mrs. Kennedy thanking the public.”

Historian Alan Brinkley eloquently honored Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his death in 2013, with an article in the Atlantic Magazine, simply titled the “Legacy of John Kennedy” doing just that looking at the mystique of the 35th president that has only grown with time. Brinkley explains the reason why Kennedy remains a legend despite many failed policies and the introduction of far sweeping laws that passed during his successor’s administration. Brinkley writes Kennedy “remains a powerful symbol of a lost moment, of a soaring idealism and hopefulness that subsequent generations still try to recover. His allure-the romantic, almost mystic, associations his name evokes-not only survives but flourishes.”

After the most bruising and ugly presidential election in perhaps American history, the image Kennedy invoked is a sharp contrast to the political reality of today making Brinkley’s conclusion even more powerful. Brinkley expressed, Kennedy’s “legacy has only grown in the 50 years since his death. That he still embodies a rare moment of public activism explains much of his continuing appeal: He reminds many Americans of an age when it was possible to believe that politics could speak to society’s moral yearnings and be harnessed to its highest aspirations. More than anything, perhaps, Kennedy reminds us of a time when the nation’s capacities looked limitless, when its future seemed unbounded, when Americans believed that they could solve hard problems and accomplish bold deeds.” Whether Democrat or Republican it impossible in the era of Donald Trump not to wish for the idealism of the Kennedy era and ponder what if…

Politics September 8, 2016: Clinton needs to review her history the 1960 debates show that personality matters

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Clinton needs to review her history the 1960 debates show that personality matters

By Bonnie K. Goodman

kennedy-nixon-debate

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is crying sexism after Republicans criticized her appearance during the NBC News Commander-in-Chief forum on Wednesday evening, Sept. 7, 2016; the problem is Clinton does not know her history. If Clinton knew her presidential campaign history, she would realize that “style” matters even more than “substance” in campaigns ever since the first televised debates in 1960 where Democrat nominee John F. Kennedy went head to head with Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon. Clinton’s comment only show one thing, GOP nominee Donald Trump is right; Clinton is playing the woman card too often.

After the forum, both candidates received lackluster reviews for their performances. The Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus took issue with Clinton and tweeted: “@HillaryClinton was angry + defensive the entire time – no smile and uncomfortable – upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets.”

Right away, Twitter erupted calling Priebus’ comment as sexist. Clinton’s campaign responded with a Tweet, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” The next morning, on Thursday, Sept. 8, Clinton gave a short press conference at the Westchester County Airport in New York where she elaborated working the victim angle. Clinton declared, “I’m going to let all of you ponder that last question. I think there will be a lot of Ph.D. theses and popular journalism writing on that subject for years to come.”

Clinton reporters her demeanor was because “we were talking about serious issues last night.” Continuing her argument about substance over style, saying, “I had a very short window of time in that event last night to convey the seriousness with which I would approach the issues of our country,” she said, before turning the table on her opponents.

Clinton chose to mock her opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose comments drew criticism for substance, but he gave an animated performance that played more to television and the audience. Clinton criticized, “Trump chose to talk about his deep admiration and support for Vladimir Putin. Maybe he did it with a smile, and I guess the RNC would have liked that.”

Clinton might have thought she was taking the high road, emphasizing substance is claiming sexism when any mention of style or personality comes up, but all it shows it how much she does not know her history and the way the presidential campaign game is played. All she needed to do was go back to the first televised presidential debates in 1960 with Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

Both candidates were young and rising political stars, but Nixon had years more experience and accomplishments than his opponent. The first one-hour Sept. 26 debate, contrasted the two candidates in ways, where it cemented one’s frontrunner status and the other’s demise. Kennedy napped before the event at the Chicago TV station, and appeared rested, tanned, healthy, wore a dark suit, he smiled and spoke directly into the camera. Nixon, in contrast, had a recent knee injury was hospitalized and lost a lot a weight, it showed. Nixon’s gray suit looked too big for him, his makeup caked on, he perspired the makeup dripped; his beard was a shadow, he looked unwell and spoke towards his opponent as opposed the camera.

Seventy million Americans viewed the first debate; two-thirds of the population either watched or listened to the debates on the radio. Those that listened to the debates thought Nixon fared better; his responses were full of substance, facts, and statistics backing his arguments and policy proposals. In contrast, those viewing the debate on TV thought Kennedy won because he mixed style and substance and just appeared healthier and more presidential. The debate raised Kennedy’s profile and was the major turning point in what was a close election.

Nixon faced similar complaints about his demeanor that first debate as Clinton did in the forum. When it was a race between men, the issue was not one of sexism but perception and the new technology. Critics complained about the “cosmetic aspect” television brought to politics and the presidential campaign. Historians now routinely blame Nixon’s composure in comparison to Kennedy’s as the reason he eventually lost the election by such a slim margin. Even Nixon admitted in his memoir “Six Crises,” “I should have remembered that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.'”

The debates influenced politics so much that candidates refrained from them for 16 years, the next televised debates was in 1976 between Democrat Jimmy Carter and incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. Alan Schroeder, the author of “Presidential Debates: 40 Years of High-Risk TV,” indicated “The 1960 debates are the turning point from retail politics –glad handing and meeting everyone face to face — to the politics of mass media.” While, Presidential historian Robert Gilbert told CNN, “Since the age of television, presidents have become like movie stars.” Clinton cannot just cry sexism when she is not playing a game that is over 55 years old properly.

The problem with today’s world is the over politically correct notions that if an unflattering comment is made to a minority could it is discriminatory and derogatory when it is not necessarily. In Hillary’s case, it is not, and if she wants to play the game fairly she has to take the punches regardless of her sex. The Hill noted, “Presidential elections are often decided on personality instead of specific policies.” Personality and style often trump just substance is the consensus among historians and pundits something Clinton has repeatedly failed to learn.

Clinton has to realize her problem is not that she is a woman but her personality; she has never truly come across as warm and friendly throughout her time in the political limelight and always had a likeability problem. During her husband Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992 and in early in his presidency, she was not deemed traditional first lady material, looking to be a political force rather than the feminine role model the country long expected. It was Bill’s outgoing personality that shone and resonated with the voters and the public.

As Hillary became that type of first lady, the warm, children loving homemaker her star rose, when Bill’s numerous scandals let her be the wronged wife she thrived riding her newfound popularity to a Senate seat in New York and her place on the world political stage. Again, Clinton faced the likeability issue when she tried the first time for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and her place in the White House. Clinton was long deemed the frontrunner, but then bursting on the scene was the younger and enigmatic Junior Senator from Illinois Barack Obama.

Obama’s whose quest to become the first African-American president eclipsed her journey to break the glass ceiling and become the first woman president. Obama exposed their differences in the last debate before the New Hampshire primary, when Clinton was asked about her “personality deficit” responding Clinton said “Well, that hurts my feelings” but admitted Obama is “very likable,” Obama responded, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”

Clinton was later caught crying; she parlayed her emotions to win the New Hampshire primary by 12 percent of the vote. The sentence deemed sexist was truthful and summed her ongoing problem with voters, her likeability and personality. Where Clinton stressed her experience, Obama passionately spoke of the future, “hope, and change.” In the end, however, personality and Obama won out.

In 2016, Clinton is again facing a larger than life personality in the form of GOP nominee Donald Trump, a business mogul and veteran reality star, who knows how to play the cameras and the press. Whether his comments are controversial or not Trump monopolizes the news cycle. Again Clinton is facing the substance versus style debate and her demeanor at the NBC forum is just an indication of the problems she will face during the debates.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public policy at Princeton University, noted Clinton’s “challenge remains the same as it always has been – show voters who she is and reveal the person beneath the candidate. To win people’s trust and to generate enthusiasm, she has to let some of her character come out.” The likability factor has always been “what she needs to work on.”  When Clinton or her supporters cry sexism they are only taking the easy way out; it is time for them to realize the problem is Clinton, not anybody else.

Sources:

Sabato, Larry, and Howard R. Ernst. Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. New York: Facts On File, 2006.

Political Musings April 11, 2014: Obama honors Lyndon B. Johnson and Civil Rights Act at 50th anniversary summit

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama honors Lyndon B. Johnson and Civil Rights Act at 50th anniversary summit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Fifty years ago on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the most sweeping civil rights legislation since the of the end of Civil War, and 101 years after Abraham Lincoln emancipated the African American slaves, Johnson…Continue
RELATED LINKS

Full Text Obama Presidency April 10, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech honoring 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit

Source: WH, 4-10-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential LibraryPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014. They attended a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
Austin, Texas

12:16 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please, please, have a seat.  Thank you.

What a singular honor it is for me to be here today.  I want to thank, first and foremost, the Johnson family for giving us this opportunity and the graciousness with which Michelle and I have been received.

We came down a little bit late because we were upstairs looking at some of the exhibits and some of the private offices that were used by President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson.  And Michelle was in particular interested to — of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President Johnson’s performance.  (Laughter.)  And she said, come, come, you need to listen to this.  (Laughter.)  And she pressed the button and nodded her head.  Some things do not change — (laughter) — even 50 years later.

To all the members of Congress, the warriors for justice, the elected officials and community leaders who are here today  — I want to thank you.

Four days into his sudden presidency — and the night before he would address a joint session of the Congress in which he once served — Lyndon Johnson sat around a table with his closest advisors, preparing his remarks to a shattered and grieving nation.

He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil rights bill — the most sweeping since Reconstruction.  And most of his staff counseled him against it.  They said it was hopeless; that it would anger powerful Southern Democrats and committee chairmen; that it risked derailing the rest of his domestic agenda.  And one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a President should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy they might be.  To which, it is said, President Johnson replied, “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”  (Laughter and applause.)  What the hell’s the presidency for if not to fight for causes you believe in?

Today, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible.  Some of them are here today.  We celebrate giants like John Lewis and Andrew Young and Julian Bond.  We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers — whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.

But we also gather here, deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office of the Presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating and sometimes you’re stymied.  The office humbles you.  You’re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision.

But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents — by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates; by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be.

This was President Johnson’s genius.  As a master of politics and the legislative process, he grasped like few others the power of government to bring about change.

LBJ was nothing if not a realist.  He was well aware that the law alone isn’t enough to change hearts and minds.  A full century after Lincoln’s time, he said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

He understood laws couldn’t accomplish everything.  But he also knew that only the law could anchor change, and set hearts and minds on a different course.  And a lot of Americans needed the law’s most basic protections at that time.  As Dr. King said at the time, “It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”  (Applause.)

And passing laws was what LBJ knew how to do.  No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson.  He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required.  (Laughter.)  He could wear you down with logic and argument.  He could horse trade, and he could flatter.  “You come with me on this bill,” he would reportedly tell a key Republican leader from my home state during the fight for the Civil Rights Bill, “and 200 years from now, schoolchildren will know only two names:  Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen!”  (Laughter.)  And he knew that senators would believe things like that.  (Laughter and applause.)

President Johnson liked power.  He liked the feel of it, the wielding of it.  But that hunger was harnessed and redeemed by a deeper understanding of the human condition; by a sympathy for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for the outcast.  And it was a sympathy rooted in his own experience.

As a young boy growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Johnson knew what being poor felt like.  “Poverty was so common,” he would later say, “we didn’t even know it had a name.”  (Laughter.)  The family home didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing.  Everybody worked hard, including the children.  President Johnson had known the metallic taste of hunger; the feel of a mother’s calloused hands, rubbed raw from washing and cleaning and holding a household together.  His cousin Ava remembered sweltering days spent on her hands and knees in the cotton fields, with Lyndon whispering beside her, “Boy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living than this.  There’s got to be a better way.”

It wasn’t until years later when he was teaching at a so-called Mexican school in a tiny town in Texas that he came to understand how much worse the persistent pain of poverty could be for other races in a Jim Crow South.  Oftentimes his students would show up to class hungry.  And when he’d visit their homes, he’d meet fathers who were paid slave wages by the farmers they worked for.  Those children were taught, he would later say, “that the end of life is in a beet row, a spinach field, or a cotton patch.”

Deprivation and discrimination — these were not abstractions to Lyndon Baines Johnson.  He knew that poverty and injustice are as inseparable as opportunity and justice are joined.  So that was in him from an early age.

Now, like any of us, he was not a perfect man.  His experiences in rural Texas may have stretched his moral imagination, but he was ambitious, very ambitious, a young man in a hurry to plot his own escape from poverty and to chart his own political career.  And in the Jim Crow South, that meant not challenging convention.  During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation “a farce and a sham.”  He was chosen as a vice presidential nominee in part because of his affinity with, and ability to deliver, that Southern white vote.  And at the beginning of the Kennedy administration, he shared with President Kennedy a caution towards racial controversy.

But marchers kept marching.  Four little girls were killed in a church.  Bloody Sunday happened.  The winds of change blew.  And when the time came, when LBJ stood in the Oval Office — I picture him standing there, taking up the entire doorframe, looking out over the South Lawn in a quiet moment — and asked himself what the true purpose of his office was for, what was the endpoint of his ambitions, he would reach back in his own memory and he’d remember his own experience with want.

And he knew that he had a unique capacity, as the most powerful white politician from the South, to not merely challenge the convention that had crushed the dreams of so many, but to ultimately dismantle for good the structures of legal segregation.  He’s the only guy who could do it — and he knew there would be a cost, famously saying the Democratic Party may “have lost the South for a generation.”

That’s what his presidency was for.  That’s where he meets his moment.  And possessed with an iron will, possessed with those skills that he had honed so many years in Congress, pushed and supported by a movement of those willing to sacrifice everything for their own liberation, President Johnson fought for and argued and horse traded and bullied and persuaded until ultimately he signed the Civil Rights Act into law.

And he didn’t stop there — even though his advisors again told him to wait, again told him let the dust settle, let the country absorb this momentous decision.  He shook them off.  “The meat in the coconut,” as President Johnson would put it, was the Voting Rights Act, so he fought for and passed that as well.  Immigration reform came shortly after.  And then, a Fair Housing Act.  And then, a health care law that opponents described as “socialized medicine” that would curtail America’s freedom, but ultimately freed millions of seniors from the fear that illness could rob them of dignity and security in their golden years, which we now know today as Medicare.  (Applause.)

What President Johnson understood was that equality required more than the absence of oppression.  It required the presence of economic opportunity.  He wouldn’t be as eloquent as Dr. King would be in describing that linkage, as Dr. King moved into mobilizing sanitation workers and a poor people’s movement, but he understood that connection because he had lived it.  A decent job, decent wages, health care — those, too, were civil rights worth fighting for.  An economy where hard work is rewarded and success is shared, that was his goal.  And he knew, as someone who had seen the New Deal transform the landscape of his Texas childhood, who had seen the difference electricity had made because of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the transformation concretely day in and day out in the life of his own family, he understood that government had a role to play in broadening prosperity to all those who would strive for it.

“We want to open the gates to opportunity,” President Johnson said, “But we are also going to give all our people, black and white, the help they need to walk through those gates.”

Now, if some of this sounds familiar, it’s because today we remain locked in this same great debate about equality and opportunity, and the role of government in ensuring each.  As was true 50 years ago, there are those who dismiss the Great Society as a failed experiment and an encroachment on liberty; who argue that government has become the true source of all that ails us, and that poverty is due to the moral failings of those who suffer from it.  There are also those who argue, John, that nothing has changed; that racism is so embedded in our DNA that there is no use trying politics — the game is rigged.

But such theories ignore history.  Yes, it’s true that, despite laws like the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, our society is still racked with division and poverty.  Yes, race still colors our political debates, and there have been government programs that have fallen short.  In a time when cynicism is too often passed off as wisdom, it’s perhaps easy to conclude that there are limits to change; that we are trapped by our own history; and politics is a fool’s errand, and we’d be better off if we roll back big chunks of LBJ’s legacy, or at least if we don’t put too much of our hope, invest too much of our hope in our government.

I reject such thinking.  (Applause.)  Not just because Medicare and Medicaid have lifted millions from suffering; not just because the poverty rate in this nation would be far worse without food stamps and Head Start and all the Great Society programs that survive to this day.  I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts.  Because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because I and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us.  (Applause.)

Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody — not all at once, but they swung open.  Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability.  They swung open for you, and they swung open for me.  And that’s why I’m standing here today — because of those efforts, because of that legacy.  (Applause.)

And that means we’ve got a debt to pay.  That means we can’t afford to be cynical.  Half a century later, the laws LBJ passed are now as fundamental to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  They are foundational; an essential piece of the American character.

But we are here today because we know we cannot be complacent.  For history travels not only forwards; history can travel backwards, history can travel sideways.  And securing the gains this country has made requires the vigilance of its citizens.  Our rights, our freedoms — they are not given.  They must be won.  They must be nurtured through struggle and discipline, and persistence and faith.

And one concern I have sometimes during these moments, the celebration of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the March on Washington — from a distance, sometimes these commemorations seem inevitable, they seem easy.  All the pain and difficulty and struggle and doubt — all that is rubbed away.  And we look at ourselves and we say, oh, things are just too different now;  we couldn’t possibly do what was done then — these giants, what they accomplished.  And yet, they were men and women, too.  It wasn’t easy then.  It wasn’t certain then.

Still, the story of America is a story of progress.  However slow, however incomplete, however harshly challenged at each point on our journey, however flawed our leaders, however many times we have to take a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf — the story of America is a story of progress.  And that’s true because of men like President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  (Applause.)

In so many ways, he embodied America, with all our gifts and all our flaws, in all our restlessness and all our big dreams.  This man — born into poverty, weaned in a world full of racial hatred — somehow found within himself the ability to connect his experience with the brown child in a small Texas town; the white child in Appalachia; the black child in Watts.  As powerful as he became in that Oval Office, he understood them.  He understood what it meant to be on the outside.  And he believed that their plight was his plight too; that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs; and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for.  (Applause.)

And those children were on his mind when he strode to the podium that night in the House Chamber, when he called for the vote on the Civil Rights law.  “It never occurred to me,” he said, “in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students” that he had taught so many years ago, “and to help people like them all over this country.  But now I do have that chance.  And I’ll let you in on a secret — I mean to use it.  And I hope that you will use it with me.”  (Applause.)

That was LBJ’s greatness.  That’s why we remember him.  And if there is one thing that he and this year’s anniversary should teach us, if there’s one lesson I hope that Malia and Sasha and young people everywhere learn from this day, it’s that with enough effort, and enough empathy, and enough perseverance, and enough courage, people who love their country can change it.

In his final year, President Johnson stood on this stage, racked with pain, battered by the controversies of Vietnam, looking far older than his 64 years, and he delivered what would be his final public speech.

“We have proved that great progress is possible,” he said.  “We know how much still remains to be done.  And if our efforts continue, and if our will is strong, and if our hearts are right, and if courage remains our constant companion, then, my fellow Americans, I am confident, we shall overcome.”  (Applause.)

We shall overcome.  We, the citizens of the United States.  Like Dr. King, like Abraham Lincoln, like countless citizens who have driven this country inexorably forward, President Johnson knew that ours in the end is a story of optimism, a story of achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this Earth.  He knew because he had lived that story.  He believed that together we can build an America that is more fair, more equal, and more free than the one we inherited.  He believed we make our own destiny.  And in part because of him, we must believe it as well.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
12:46 P.M. CDT

University Musings February 16, 2014: Obama puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight

EDUCATION BUZZ

EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS

EDUCATION HEADLINES

Obama puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Obama needs to look back at President Kennedy’s idealism to recognize the importance of the arts
The debate of the importance of the humanities, liberal arts and social science university degree versus a professional degree, or a degree…READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: US marks President John F. Kennedy assassination’s 50th anniversary with memorials

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

US marks JFK assassination’s 50th anniversary

Source: NY Daily News, 11-22-13

People attend a ceremony in Dallas on Friday. Kennedy was killed 50 years ago this day during a presidential motorcade in the city.

LARRY W. SMITH/EPA

People attend a ceremony in Dallas on Friday. Kennedy was killed 50 years ago this day during a presidential motorcade in the city.

John F. Kennedy assassination’s 50th anniversary marked nationwide as Obama says the late president ‘moved people in a way that still resonates with us today’

At Arlington National Cemetery, 85-year-old Jean Kennedy Smith, the slain President’s last surviving sibling, laid a wreath at her brother’s grave as other Kennedys joined her….READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: Remembering President John F. Kennedy’s life and speeches

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Remembering JFK’s life and speeches

Source: Deseret News, 11-22-13

Here are two lists that honor JFK, from the most defining moments of his life, to his best speeches….READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: John F. Kennedy Remembered on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

JFK Remembered on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States.  President Obama has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at government buildings to honor the late commander-in-chief, who was 46 at the time of his death…READ MORE

Full Text History Buzz November 22, 2013: Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Source: USA Today, 11-22-13

Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation’s history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago.

John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them.

On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President.

History Buzz November 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Proclaims Day of Remembrance for John F. Kennedy on 50th Anniversary of his Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama Proclaims Day of Remembrance for JFK

Source: USA Today, 11-22-13

Political Musings November 21, 2013: Obama honors John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

On This Day in History June 11, 1963…. 50th Anniversary: President John F. Kennedy Gives Televised Speech on Civil Rights to the Nation

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program.

kennedycrban.jpg

John F. Kennedy delivering the Civil Rights Address (Wikimedia Commons)

On This Day in History June 11, 1963…. President John F. Kennedy gave a televised speech on civil rights to the nation from the White House oval office paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It was a busy day for the civil rights movement; Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace in his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” physically prevented two African American students; Vivian Malone and James Hood, from registering at the University of Alabama despite a court order the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. President Kennedy was forced to send the US National Guard to end the conflict, and ensure the students could enter the university building and register.

Hours later, in the early morning of June 12th, African American civil rights activist and leader Medgar Evers was killed in Mississippi. He was shot in the back while entering into his home after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Evers was shot by Byron De La Beckwith, who belonged to the White Citizens’ Council, a segregationist group. Although first arrested on June 21, 1963 for Evers’ murder, it took until 1994 for De La Beckwith to be convicted of the crime. Also in the north, Boston city school officials began a ten year battle with the NAACP over segregation the same evening as President Kennedy’s speech.

It was against this turmoil in the nation over civil rights that President Kennedy called and booked time on all three major networks for him to speak to the nation at 8 PM EDT on civil rights and the situation in Alabama.

In a hastily drafted speech by Ted Sorensen and revised by Kennedy. The President told Americans that segregation is a “moral issue” that is wrong. Kennedy stated; “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” President Kennedy accomplished two points in his speech, the introduction of civil rights legislation, and the beginning of significant comprehensive school desegregation.

Kennedy pleaded to the American people that civil rights is the responsibility of all citizens; “It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all… Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Kennedy specifically emphasized the lack of action since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1954 in the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education which ended the legality of the separate but equal system. Kennedy lamented; “Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job. The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.”

In his speech, President Kennedy began an active pursuit of Congressional legislation that would end segregation, stating; “Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law…. I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.”

Kennedy also introduced the pursuit of the vote for all African Americans stating; “Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” With his speech that night, Kennedy was pushing in motion not only the Civil Rights Act, but the subsequent Voting Rights Act passed two years later in 1965 which guaranteed the vote to all Americans.

Kennedy concluded his speech with a request of support from the American public for his sweeping and necessary proposals based on Constitutional rights for all Americans; “Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents…. This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.”

Kennedy submitted a civil rights bill to Congress the next week on June 19, which historian Robert Dallek in his biography of President Kennedy, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 described as “the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country’s history.” The law would guarantee the right to vote for all with the minimum of a sixth grade education, and end discrimination in all public and commercial facilities establishments and accommodations. Kennedy also requested that the attorney general be granted expanded powers to implement school desegregation, asked to end job discrimination and create job training opportunities and a “community relations service.” Kennedy used the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution to justify the contents of his proposed bill. President Kennedy continued pushing Congress to pass civil rights legislation with bipartisan support until his assassination five months later in November 1963.

The leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. approved of President Kennedy’s speech and described it as ‘the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president’.” King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on August 28th, over two months later during the March on Washington would eclipse Kennedy’s speech as the most relevant to advancing civil rights.

However civil rights would become central to Kennedy’s legacy, and without the President taking initial action with this speech and laying out his bold vision and plan to make a civil rights a reality for all Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never would have passed and signed into law on July 2, 1964.

IN THE NEWS

The Day President Kennedy Embraced Civil Rights—and the Story Behind It

Source: The Atlantic, 6-11-13

50 years ago today, the president gave his now-famous Civil Rights Address. But it was Martin Luther King Jr. and the Birmingham protesters who deserved the credit.

“Can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit it over the fence!” That was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s private verdict on President John F. Kennedy’s famous Civil Rights Address, delivered fifty years ago on June 11, 1963….READ MORE

John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Speech Remembered On 50th Anniversary

Source: Huffington Post, 6-11-13

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave his Civil Rights Address, calling for the legislation that later became the Civil Rights Act Of 1964….READ MORE

Watch: JFK’s civil rights speech, 50 years ago

Source: MSNBC, 6-11-13

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the nation after a day of racial turmoil in the state of Alabama….READ MORE

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Peniel E. Joseph: Kennedy’s Finest Moment

Source: NYT, 6-12-13

JUNE 11, 1963, may not be a widely recognized date these days, but it might have been the single most important day in civil rights history….

But the most important event was one that almost didn’t happen: a hastily arranged speech that evening by President John F. Kennedy….READ MORE

Tufts Professor Recalls Momentous, Overlooked JFK Speech From 50 Years Ago

Download

Source: NPR Boston WBUR, 6-11-13

When Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops. It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodations.

Fifty years ago Tuesday, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation in a televised speech sometimes called one of the best of his presidency. But that speech would be overshadowed by other events of June 11, 1963, and of the early hours of the next day.

WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with Peniel Joseph, a history professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, about this date 50 years ago, which he calls the most significant date in civil rights history….READ MORE

QUOTES

Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights

June 11, 1963

Source: Presidency, UCSB

audio

Good evening, my fellow citizens:This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.

That they were admitted peacefully on the campus is due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.

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 rounded 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.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet-Nam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.

It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.

The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the Nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing a high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day, one-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year, a life expectancy which is 7 years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much.

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or cast system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.

It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.

Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law. The Federal judiciary has upheld that proposition in a series of forthright cases. The executive branch has adopted that proposition in the conduct of its affairs, including the employment of Federal personnel, the use of Federal facilities, and the sale of federally financed housing.

But there are other necessary measures which only the Congress can provide, and they must be provided at this session. The old code of equity law under which we live commands for every wrong a remedy, but in too many communities, in too many parts of the country, wrongs are inflicted on Negro citizens and there are no remedies at law. Unless the Congress acts, their only remedy is in the street.

I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.

This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an arbitrary indignity that no American in 1963 should have to endure, but many do.

I have recently met with scores of business leaders urging them to take voluntary action to end this discrimination and I have been encouraged by their response, and in the last 2 weeks over 75 cities have seen progress made in desegregating these kinds of facilities. But many are unwilling to act alone, and for this reason, nationwide legislation is needed if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts.

I am also asking Congress to authorize the Federal Government to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public education. We have succeeded in persuading many districts to de-segregate voluntarily. Dozens have admitted Negroes without violence. Today a Negro is attending a State-supported institution in every one of our 50 States, but the pace is very slow.

Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job.

The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.

Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency.

Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom’s challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.

My fellow Americans, this is a problem which faces us all–in every city of the North as well as the South. Today there are Negroes unemployed, two or three times as many compared to whites, inadequate in education, moving into the large cities, unable to find work, young people particularly out of work without hope, denied equal rights, denied the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter or go to a movie theater, denied the right to a decent education, denied almost today the right to attend a State university even though qualified. It seems to me that these are matters which concern us all, not merely Presidents or Congressmen or Governors, but every citizen of the United States.

This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents.

We cannot say to 10 percent of the population that you can’t have that right; that your children can’t have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that.

Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents.

As I have said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or an equal motivation, but they should have the equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.

We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.

This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.
Thank you very much.

Delivered from the President’s office at 8 p.m.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: “Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights,” June 11, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9271.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 10, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

It’s Been 50 Years Since the Equal Pay Act

Source: WH, 6-10-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act (June 10, 2013)President Barack Obama delivers remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, in the East Room of the White House, June 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

It’s been 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, but its goals today stand unrealized. In 2013, full-time working women still make less than men on average.

This morning, President Obama spoke at an event to mark the anniversary….READ MORE

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Source: WH, 6-10-13

President Obama Speaks on the Equal Pay Act

President Obama Speaks on the Equal Pay Act

Today, we marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act with an event at the White House hosted by President Obama, the release of an important report from the National Equal Pay Task Force on the last fifty years since the Act was signed, a new web page with resources and information for women to make sure they’re paid equally, and a new video that gives an overview of our progress in equal pay.

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a milestone piece of legislation that requires men and women receive equal pay for equal work. However, fifty years later, women are still only earning approximately 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and even less for women of color, so we are far from ready to declare victory.

To mark today’s anniversary, President Obama spoke at the event attended by leaders in the government, private sector and civil society who are all committed to  building a 21st century workplace….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act

Source: WH, 6-10-13 

East Room

11:53 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  It is wonderful to see all of you.  Thank you, Joe, for that kind introduction.  Thank you, Valerie, for the great leadership you’ve shown on this.  And to all of you — business leaders and advocates, members of Congress, who are here, members of my administration — I am so glad that all of you could be here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

When you think about it, we’re not just celebrating a law.  We’re honoring the heroes who made that law possible — the fierce determination of Americans who saw a wrong and worked to right it.  There were women who were sick and tired of being sick and tired — (laughter) — of seeing the same jobs advertised with different pay scales.  Women who were tired of being treated like second-class workers.  Women like Dorothy Height and Congresswoman Edna Kelly — (applause) — and Esther Peterson, all who pushed to make the Equal Pay Act a reality.

And, today, we recognize the work of those brave women.  But until equal pay truly is a reality, we’re also here to recommit ourselves to the work that remains to be done.

Fifty years ago today, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, right here in the White House.  He said it was basic to our democracy.  It’s the idea that all of us are created equal.  And as I said in my inaugural address this year, our journey to equality is not complete until our wives, our mothers, our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

The day that the bill was signed into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned on average.  Today, it’s about 77 cents.  So it was 59 and now it’s 77 cents.  It’s even less, by the way, if you’re an African American or a Latina.  So I guess that’s progress, but does anybody here think that’s good enough?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I assume everybody thinks we can do better.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We can.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.  (Laughter and applause.)

Over the course of her career, a working woman with a college degree will earn on average hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who does the same work.  Now, that’s wrong.  I don’t want that for Malia and Sasha.  I don’t want that for your daughters.  I don’t want that to be an example that any child growing up ends up accepting as somehow the norm.  I want every child to grow up knowing that a woman’s hard work is valued and rewarded just as much as any man’s.

Now, what’s important to realize also, though, is this is not just an issue of fairness.  This is a family issue.  This is a middle-class issue.  This is an economic issue.  Just last week, a report confirmed what we already know:  that women are increasingly the breadwinners for American families.  Women are now the primary source of income for nearly 40 percent of American families.  Forty percent — almost half.

That’s not something to panic about, or to be afraid about  -– that’s a sign of the progress and the strides that we’ve made.  But what it does mean is that when more women are bringing home the bacon, they shouldn’t just be getting a little bit of bacon.  (Laughter.)  If they’re bringing home more of the income and that income is less than a fair share, that means that families have less to get by on for childcare or health care, or gas or groceries.  It makes it harder for middle-class families to save and retire.  It leaves small businesses with customers who have less money in their pockets — which is not good for the economy.  That’s not a good example to set for our sons and daughters, but it’s also not a good recipe for long-term, stable economic growth.

So to anyone who says 77 cents on the dollar sounds pretty close to equal, I say, you’re math is bad.  (Laughter.)  You wouldn’t like it if your vote only counted in three out of four elections.  (Laughter.)  You wouldn’t like it if your daughters or sons went to school but they only got taught three out of four days a week, or four out of five days a week.  You wouldn’t like it if you were forced to work every fourth day without pay.  Men would be complaining about that.  (Laughter.)  They wouldn’t think that was equal or fair.

So this is the 21st century.  It’s time to close that gap.  That’s why the first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  (Applause.)

That’s why, as Valerie mentioned, I created the first-ever White House Council on Women and Girls, which is working to close that gap.  (Applause.)  And Valerie’s council — this council is doing a great job in bringing the experiences of women into our federal policies as well.

It’s why I established a National Equal Pay Task Force to help crack down on violations of equal pay laws, which, by the way, they’re doing at a record rate.  And, through education and outreach, they’re also helping employers develop tools to comply with the nation’s equal pay laws on their own.  And that’s why, earlier this year, I signed a presidential memorandum directing the federal government to close that gap for good for its employees.  (Applause.)  We have to set an example.

It’s also why we’re using the latest technology to help workers get the information they need to figure out if they’re underpaid.  And thanks to innovators like Rachel and Laquitta, who are up here, we can now say, “There’s an app for that.”  (Laughter.)

But as long as this gap persists, we’re going to have more work to do.  And now is the time to keep up the work that all those trailblazers started 50 years ago.

Now is the time for Congress to step up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so women have better tools to fight for equal pay for equal work.  (Applause.)

Now is the time for us to encourage more young women to pursue math and science education.  Now is the time for us to hire more STEM teachers so all our children are prepared for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of tomorrow.

Now is the time to make sure businesses offer men and women the flexibility to be good employees and good parents.  And I really want to commend Deloitte and SumAll, and the CEOs who are with us here today, they are creating exactly the kinds of innovative workplaces that help hard-working Americans thrive, and they’re committed to pay equity.  And so when you have a chance to talk to Joe, say thank you.  And the CEOs who are out there, if you want a first-class company that is tapping into the talents and resources of all your employees, make sure that you’re putting in place systems so that they all feel like they’re being treated fairly and equally.  It’s a simple principle and it’s a powerful one.

And now is the time to make sure that we are putting in place a minimum wage that you can live on — (applause) — because 60 percent of those making the minimum wage are women.

If we do all this — and this will be part of our broader agenda to create good jobs and to strengthen middle-class security, to keep rebuilding an economy that works for everybody, that gives every American the chance to get ahead, no matter who you are or what you look like, or what your last name is and who you love.

That’s what I’m going to keep on fighting for.  That’s what you’re going to keep on fighting for.  And we have all of you and your predecessors to thank for the incredible progress this country has made in eliminating the barriers and injustices that might keep our daughters from enjoying the same rights, same chances, and same freedoms as our sons.  I’m proud of you.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
12:02 P.M. EDT

History Buzz January 17, 2013: JFK White House staffers reunite

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

JFK White House staffers reunite

Source: Boston.com, 1-17-13

Some arrived in the afternoon drizzle with the aid of canes. Others steadied themselves on the arm of a spouse. But they were as determined as half a century ago when they were the foot soldiers of President John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier.

A handful of surviving members of the 35th president’s White House staff came together Wednesday to relive those heady times that have long since passed for American myth. They were invited for a private tour of the exhibit, “To The Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” on display at the National Archives….READ MORE

History Buzz February 17, 2012: George Washington still tops as most favorable President in Presidents’ Day Public Policy Polling survey

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Poll: George Washington still tops

This undated file photo of a 1796 Gilbert Stuart oil on canvas painting portrays George Washington, founding father and first president of the United States. | AP Photo

Eighty-nine percent of Americans say they see George Washington favorably. | AP Photo

Source: Politico, 2-17-12

George Washington still ranks as Americans’ number one president, according to a new poll out Friday.

A whopping 89 percent of Americans say they see the United States’ first president favorably, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. The nation’s most other popular presidents offer few surprises, with Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt rounding out the top ten.

Lincoln, with 85 percent favorability, just missed taking the top stop from Washington. Only two other presidents have a favorability rating over 70 percent — Jefferson at 74 percent and Kennedy at 70 percent.

Richard Nixon is by far the least popular, with 59 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the scandal-ridden former commander in chief. Just 27 percent say they see Nixon positively. Ten other former presidents hit negative numbers in the poll: Lyndon B. Johnson, Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Barack Obama, Chester Arthur, Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan and George W. Bush.

Obama comes in with 46 percent saying they see him favorably and 49 percent unfavorably. His predecessor, George W. Bush, gets similar support, with 45 percent positive and 46 percent negative ratings. Americans see other recent presidents in a more positive light — Ronald Reagan is the 14th most popular president, Gerald Ford the 16th and Bill Clinton ranks 17th….READ MORE

History Buzz February 6, 2012: Mimi Alford: Book details JFK affair with teen White House intern “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BOOK NEWS

Book details JFK affair with teen White House intern

Source: AFP, 2-6-12

John F. Kennedy carried on an 18-month-long affair with a teenaged White House intern, according to a new book by the woman who claims to have been the late US president’s lover.

Excerpts of the shocking memoir, “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath,” were released Monday by the New York Post, which said it purchased a copy of the book at a local bookstore, although it is not scheduled for publication until Wednesday.

In her tell-all memoir, author Mimi Alford, now a 69-year-old grandmother, recounts the president’s tears after the death of his newborn son, and recalls that he confided to her, while embroiled in the drama of the Cuban missile crisis that “I’d rather my children red, than dead.”

Alford provides intimate details of their relationship, which started in the summer of 1962, when she was just 19, less than half the age of the dashing president, who was killed the following year by an assassins’ bullet at the age of 46.

In an excerpt published by The Post, Alford wrote that she met Kennedy just four days into her internship, and that he invited her the following day on a personal tour of the White House residence that included first lady Jackie Kennedy’s bedroom.

Now 50 years later, Alford, a retired New York City church administrator, writes that it was there that she lost her virginity to Kennedy that day….READ MORE

History Buzz September 15, 2011: Michael Beschloss: Jacqueline Kennedy Recordings Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With President John F. Kennedy Transcript Excerpts

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS: JACQUELINE KENNEDY: HISTORIC CONVERSATION WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY & IN HER OWN WORDS

Jacqueline Kennedy

HISTORY INTERVIEWS: Recordings of Jacqueline Kennedy Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With JFK — Transcript & Excerpts

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-15-11

SUMMARY

The new book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never before heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964. Ray Suarez discusses the rare and intimate glimpse with presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who edited and annotated the book.

RAY SUAREZ: And to a rare and intimate glimpse into history.

The new book “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never-before-heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964, shortly after her husband’s assassination.

The tapes were released by daughter Caroline Kennedy in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.

Presidential historian and regular NewsHour guest Michael Beschloss edited and annotated the book, and he joins us now.

And, Michael, it was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life with JFK, life in the White House, and the life and times of the Kennedy administration.

What do you know now? What’s the most important thing you know now that you didn’t know before?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, the biggest thing, if we had talked a year ago, before I read this thing, I would have said Jacqueline Kennedy was a major figure obviously in JFK’s life and Kennedy’s Washington, did a lot for historic preservation, restored the White House, substituted the taste, perhaps, of Dwight Eisenhower, who had people like Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians play in the White House, for people like Pablo Casals.

But I wouldn’t have said that she was a major political figure in Kennedy administration. Now I would. One example of this is the number of times in this book where she runs down, say, someone like Dean Rusk, the secretary of state, says, “Jack, you should fire him.” And he says, “Well, maybe you’re right, but I can’t do it until 1964.”

She goes to Pakistan and there’s an ambassador of the United States she meets there, comes back, writes a letter at her husband’s behest that he sends on to the secretary of state. She had a lot more to do particularly with the personnel of this administration than think I would have thought.

RAY SUAREZ: We are taken into the back, private areas of the White House during some of the most tense times in the 1960s, for instance, the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Jacqueline Kennedy tells historian and Kennedy insider Arthur Schlesinger about what those tense days were like for her and the family.

Let’s listen.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Right.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, former first lady: But I said: “Please, don’t send me away to Camp David, you know, me and the children. Please don’t send me anywhere. If anything happens, we’re all going to say right here with you.”

And, you know — and I said, “Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House,” which I had seen, I said, “Please, then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens, you know, but I just want to be with you and I want to die with you. And the children do, too, than live without you.”

RAY SUAREZ: It’s a reminder that this wasn’t kidding around. The world felt like it was right on the precipice. When the first lady says to the president, “I and the children want to die with you,” it was striking.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: And be out on the lawn, not in a bomb shelter.

And the other thing is, it tells something about their marriage. In my experience studying presidents, the president doesn’t have a great marriage with the first lady and there’s a big political crisis, the president usually doesn’t want to spend very much time with his wife, would rather be around cronies or something.

John Kennedy’s first instinct when he knows about the Cuban Missile Crisis — it is in the book — he calls up Jackie, who is in Virginia. There’s something funny in his voice, she says. He says, “Please bring the children right now back to the White House,” even though they were taking naps.

And the next 13 days, they spent very much together, went strolling out on the lawn together. He had a very — she had a very large part in his life, obviously, but particularly at this moment he looked to her for security.

RAY SUAREZ: Two things shone out again and again, how much she admired Kennedy’s personality, his intellect, the way he related to people on the campaign trail and at times how unsure of her own value to him she really was. Take a listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I was always a liability to him until we got to the White House. And he never asked me to change or said anything about it. Everyone thought I was a snob from Newport who had bouffant hair and had French clothes and hated politics.

And then because I was off and having these babies, I wasn’t able to campaign, be around him as much as I could have. And he’d get so upset for me when something like that came out. And, sometimes, I would say, “Oh, Jack, I wish — I’m so sorry for you that I’m just such a dud.”

RAY SUAREZ: Sure, she was a little unsure campaigning at the beginning, but she was anything but a liability, right?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: As it turned out.

But the Kennedy operatives in 1960 thought that she would be, that people would be put off, that she would seem too effete. Some of them wished that she would be more like Pat Nixon. One once said, we will run Mrs. Kennedy through subliminally, worried about her politically.

The biggest surprise to both of them is, she becomes first lady and she’s the most enormous celebrity in the country. Everyone wants to wear their hair like Jackie, the women do, and do their houses and imitate her in other ways. And the poignant thing is that, when they went to Texas at the end of the Kennedy presidency, he had pleaded with her to go with him because she was such a political asset.

RAY SUAREZ: The interesting thing about the times is that right behind her is Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: The model political wife of the time.

RAY SUAREZ: Waiting out just a little ways down the road are Lady Bird Johnson in her way, but also Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter. She seems on the edge of those two worlds, a helpmeet, a supporter, but also someone who is educated, quite sophisticated in her own right, and worried very much about how the burdens of the presidency were affecting her husband when she couldn’t help him.

Listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: And he cared so much. He didn’t care about his 100 days, but all those poor men who you would send off with all their hopes high and promises that we would back them. And there they were, shot down like dogs or going to die in jail.

And Bobby came over to see me and said, “Please stay very close to Jack. I mean, just be around all afternoon.” If I was going to take children out — in other words, don’t leave anywhere, just to sort of comfort him.

RAY SUAREZ: The Bay of Pigs had been a disaster for the very young Kennedy administration, and she was watching it weigh on her husband.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, just three months in.

And he came in with very grandiose expectations, and, suddenly, three months later, he’s accused of being an incompetent, can’t get this done, the invasion of Cuba. He weeps with her in a bedroom in the weekend house they had in Virginia.

And, also, you look at Kennedy’s medical records. His doctors felt that he had gone into a depression. So she felt very much part of her job throughout this presidency was buoying him up when he needed it, and he often did.

RAY SUAREZ: Also, she was incredibly young, raising young children, and pregnant several times during that both campaign and early White House phase, but, at the same time, a woman energized by the life that she was living emerges from the texts of the Schlesinger interviews.

By 1964, when this interview was done, she seems to be pretty much at peace with her role in White House. Take a listen:

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I always thought there was one thing merciful about the White House, which made up for the goldfish bowl and the Secret Service and all that, was that it was kind of — you were hermetically sealed or there was something protective against the outside world, I mean, as far as your private life went.

And I decided that was the best thing to do. Everyone should be trying to help Jack in whatever way they could. And that was the way I could do it the best, by making it always a climate of affection and comfort and detente when he came home.

RAY SUAREZ: Interesting that she was able to create privacy, when so many other first ladies more keenly feel that intrusion.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, that’s right.

And she didn’t want to go to the White House. She got very morose when he won, oddly enough, because she thought that life would wreck her family. And she was a woman of hugely strong will. And she basically said: I’m not going to be Mamie Eisenhower, campaigning and going to all these political and other kinds of banquets. My job is to support my husband, to raise my children well.

And she also took on for herself this huge project of restoring the White House, which she rightly felt when she encountered it looked like sort of a bad convention hotel which was full of B. Altman reproductions. She had to raise the money for it, huge project, so, all of that done at the same time. This was a woman who was very young, 31 when she became first lady, but of enormous accomplishment and talent.

RAY SUAREZ: A lot of the coverage over the last week has gone to her sharp and sometimes even a little snarky observations on the…

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: One or two.

RAY SUAREZ: Yes, the great and the good of her age. But that just shows that she was paying attention, doesn’t it?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: She was paying very close attention.

And if you looked at the oral history, if there was one, of a first lady that was more traditional, perhaps a Mamie Eisenhower, I doubt if she would have had independent opinions about a secretary of state or an ambassador, and fulfilled that role for her husband.

RAY SUAREZ: So what do we see in Jackie, a sort of hybrid?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: I think a hybrid, and I think you’re right in saying that she was a transitional figure.

She knew that she had to function in a period where people didn’t want to see her attending Cabinet meetings, which she had no interest in doing and didn’t. But, at the same time, she knew that that generation of woman could not any longer be content to be a Mamie Eisenhower or one of the earlier first ladies, who basically poured tea.

RAY SUAREZ: Michael Beschloss, thanks for joining us.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Pleasure, Ray.

History Buzz Michael Beschloss & Caroline Kennedy: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy & ABC’s In Her Own Words

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

BOOK NEWS: JACQUELINE KENNEDY: HISTORIC CONVERSATION WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY & IN HER OWN WORDS

Jacqueline Kennedy

 INTRODUCTION

Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss. Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. Hyperion; Har/Com edition, September 14, 2011

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Online Video ABC

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Jacqueline Kennedy’s style, elegance and courage helped to define an era, but she never spoke publicly about her White House years. Four months after her husband’s death, she recorded a series of interviews for history, specifying the tapes not be released until the appropriate time. Now, nearly 50 years later, Kennedy’s tapes have been released to the public in a new book and audio set…. ABC News

In 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded seven historic interviews about her life with John F. Kennedy. Now, for the first time, they can be heard and read in this deluxe, illustrated book and 8-CD set.
Shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, with a nation deep in mourning and the world looking on in stunned disbelief, Jacqueline Kennedy found the strength to set aside her own personal grief for the sake of posterity and begin the task of documenting and preserving her husband’s legacy. In January of 1964, she and Robert F. Kennedy approved a planned oral-history project that would capture their first-hand accounts of the late President as well as the recollections of those closest to him throughout his extraordinary political career. For the rest of her life, the famously private Jacqueline Kennedy steadfastly refused to discuss her memories of those years, but beginning that March, she fulfilled her obligation to future generations of Americans by sitting down with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and recording an astonishingly detailed and unvarnished account of her experiences and impressions as the wife and confidante of John F. Kennedy. The tapes of those sessions were then sealed and later deposited in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum upon its completion, in accordance with Mrs. Kennedy’s wishes.
The resulting eight and a half hours of material comprises a unique and compelling record of a tumultuous era, providing fresh insights on the many significant people and events that shaped JFK’s presidency but also shedding new light on the man behind the momentous decisions. Here are JFK’s unscripted opinions on a host of revealing subjects, including his thoughts and feelings about his brothers Robert and Ted, and his take on world leaders past and present, giving us perhaps the most informed, genuine, and immediate portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy we shall ever have. Mrs. Kennedy’s urbane perspective, her candor, and her flashes of wit also give us our clearest glimpse into the active mind of a remarkable First Lady.
In conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s Inauguration, Caroline Kennedy and the Kennedy family are now releasing these beautifully restored recordings on CDs with accompanying transcripts. Introduced and annotated by renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss, these interviews will add an exciting new dimension to our understanding and appreciation of President Kennedy and his time and make the past come alive through the words and voice of an eloquent eyewitness to history.

“My mother willingly recalled the span of her married life and shared her insights into my father’s private and public political personality.” — Caroline Kennedy wrote

JACKIE KENNEDY TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS

“Suddenly, everything that’d been a liability before — your hair, that you spoke French, that you didn’t just adore to campaign, and you didn’t bake bread with flour up to your arms — you know, everybody thought I was a snob and hated politics. I was so happy for Jack, especially now that it was only three years together that he could be proud of me then. Because it made him so happy — it made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.”

“Renewals of love after brief separations”… “He loved having those children tumbling around him”… He never asked me to change”

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “tricky” and a “phony”; “I said, ‘Oh, but Jack, that’s so terrible. I mean that man is a, you know, such a phony.’… He would never judge anyone in any sort of way. He never said anything against Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it. And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible.”

France’s Charles de Gaulle: “egomaniac” and a “spiteful man” “He was so full of spite … I loathe the French, they’re really not very nice, they’re all for themselves.”

Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India: “prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”

Sukarno, the former Indonesian president: a lecher, he left “a bad taste in your mouth.”

André Malraux, the French novelist: “The most fascinating man I’ve ever talked to.”

Colombian president, Alberto Lleras Camargo: “Nordic in his sadness.”

Mr. Kennedy on Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Charlatan is an unfair word,” but “he did an awful lot for effect.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Really, he kept us [as a nation] standing still.”

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower: “There was venom or something there.”

Pat Nixon: Kennedy said she worried that the public wanted her to get a “frizzy perm and be like Pat Nixon.”

Lady Bird Johnson: “trained hunting dog.”

On Lyndon Johnson as President: “Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, ‘Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?’ And Bobby told me that he’d had some discussions with him … do something to name someone else in 1968”

On Lyndon B. Johnson, as a Vice President: “[He had] an enormous ego … [He] just didn’t do anything.”

On Johnson, after he took office as President: “People will think I’m bitter, but I just want it to be put in context the kind of president Jack was and Lyndon is.”

On her husband becoming President in 1961: “Once he was in control … all the best things would happen.”

On the Bay of Pigs invasion: “He started to cry … just with me. Just put his head in his hands and sort of wept. And, it was so sad. He cared so much … all those poor men.”

On the Cuban Missile Crisis in Octpber 1962 to JFK: “From then on, it seemed there was no waking or sleeping…. If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you. “[I told John] please don’t send me away to Camp David … Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House, which I’d seen…. I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too — than live without you….
That was the time I was closest to him, I never left the house or saw the children. I stayed by his side.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver: “She wanted to be a cabinet wife.”

On Joseph Jr. as President: “He would have been so unimaginative, compared to Jack.”

On Democratic governor of Texas, John Connally: “Jack was so sweet. He sort of rubbed my back … and said, ‘You mustn’t say that, you mustn’t say that.’ If you start to say or think that you hate someone, then the next day you’ll act as if you hated him.”

White House speechwriter Theodore Sorensen had a “big inferiority complex” and was “the last person you would invite at night.”…
“You know, Jack forgave so quickly, but I never forgave Ted Sorensen.” (On Sorenson encouraging the perception that he had ghostwritten her husband’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage.’)

On being asked if Mr. Kennedy was religious: “Oh, yes. Well, I mean, he never missed church one Sunday that we were married or all that, but you could see partly — I often used to think whether it was superstition or not — I mean, he wasn’t quite sure, but if it was that way, he wanted to have that on his side.
It was just like a little childish mannerism, I suppose like brushing your teeth or something. But I thought that was so sweet. It used to amuse me so, standing there.”

“I think he probably did it … rather thinking it might be such a brilliant thing to do because Vietnam was rather hopeless anyway, and put a Republican there.” — Jackie said JFK, a Democrat, had named Henry Cabot Lodge, a Republican he had defeated for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 1952, as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam because JFK was so doubtful of military success there.

“All these twisted poor little women whose lives hadn’t worked out … [They had] this queer thing for power…. resented getting their power through men
I get all my opinions from my husband, which is true. How could I have any political opinions? His were going to be the best…. Women should never be in politics, we’re just not suited for it.”

Schlesinger asks young John if he knows what happened to his father.
“He’s gone to heaven,” the boy replies.
Schlesinger asks what he remembers.
“I don’t remember ANY-thing,” John says playfully.

Jacqueline Kennedy recalled a 1962 White House conversation between Kennedy and historian David Donald about Abraham Lincoln’s presidency:
“‘Do you think’ – it’s the one thing that was on his mind — ‘would Lincoln have been as great a President if he’d lived?’ And Donald, really by going round and round, had agreed with him that Lincoln, you know, it was better — was better for Lincoln that he died when he did.”

HEADLINES & REVIEWS

“I think people really need to understand the purpose of an oral history. And it really – the value of it is it is immediate, it is honest. I think that was very brave of her to do that and to be honest. But it’s got limitations. It’s just – it’s a primary source document. It’s like a diary or something like that, it’s really a snapshot.

This was something where she felt the obligation to be honest and she had always told us that she was going to put it away for 50 years.

There are flashes throughout where I hear her and there are parts to me where it sounds like it was a very long time ago, just the way she speaks and the things she said.

It was funny because my daughters listened to it too and they were just absolutely horrified… ‘Did she really think that?’ And of course time has moved on and it shows you both there are many timeless things in here but it really is a snapshot of a world that we barely recognize.” — Caroline Kennedy on ABC’s Good Morning America

  • Caroline Kennedy on Jacqueline Kennedy’s ‘Brave’ Tapes: My Daughters Were ‘Absolutely Horrified’ at Some OpinionsABC News, 9-14-11
  • In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow: The seven-part interview conducted in early 1964 — one of only three that Mrs. Kennedy gave after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination — is being published as a book and an audio recording. In it, the young widow speaks with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian and Kennedy aide, about her husband’s presidency, their marriage and her role in his political life. They do not discuss his death. The eight and a half hours of interviews had been kept private at the request of Mrs. Kennedy, who never spoke publicly about those years again before she died in 1994. The transcript and recording, obtained by The New York Times, offer an extraordinary immersion in the thoughts and feelings of one of the most enigmatic figures of the second half of the 20th century — the woman who, as much as anyone, helped shape a heroic narrative of the Kennedy years. Though the interviews seem unlikely to redraw the contours of Mr. Kennedy or his presidency, they are packed with intimate observations and insights of the sort that historians treasure…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words, Historic Conversations on Life with JFK: Hundreds of books have been written about the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Countless documentaries have been made, thousands of testimonials and oral histories given.
    But for almost 50 years, one voice was silent: Jacqueline Kennedy’s.
    Now, in an ABC News exclusive, Diane Sawyer will anchor a two-hour 20/20 special in September in which America will hear Jacqueline Kennedy’s conversations for the first time, put in context by historians and by the woman who knew her best: her own daughter…. – ABC News, 5-25-11
  • ABC News Kennedy Special Most Watched Program at 10pm: ABC News Special “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words” averaged 8.4 million Total Viewers and a 2.1 rating/5 share among Adults 25-54 and 1.5 rating/4 share among Adults 18-49 for its two-hour broadcast, according to Nielsen Media Research. … – ABC News, 9-14-11
  • Did NBC spoil ratings for ABC’s Jackie Kennedy special?: Seventeen years after her death, Jacqueline Kennedy remains a big draw, especially with newly released recordings that find her dishing dirt on everyone from President Lyndon Johnson to Indian leader Indira Ghandi. But a rival network may have spoiled the big party ABC planned for the event.
    ABC’s two-hour special “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words” delivered 8.4 million total viewers Tuesday night, according to Nielsen. Host Diane Sawyer picked her way through hours of tapes the former first lady made with historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in early 1964, just months after President Kennedy was assassinated. In the recordings, Jacqueline Kennedy glowingly recounts life with her husband but bashes leaders such as LBJ, Martin Luther King Jr. and Charles de Gaulle…. – LAT, 9-14-11
  • Jackie Kennedy Book Shoots to No. 1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, debuted at #1 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists today, its first official release day. Early leaks of the book, which contains the transcript and CDs of the audio recordings of 8.5 hours of interviews Jackie Kennedy did with noted historian Arthur Schlesinger in March 1964, less than four months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, had been the subject of intense media jockeying over the last week. The book also contains introductory essays from Caroline Kennedy and presidential writer Michael Beschloss.
    The book was under a strict sales embargo to protect the exclusive for ABC News’ Diane Sawyer-hosted special, Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words, that aired last night. Some bookstores broke the embargo and The New York Times, the AP, and NBC News acquired early copies last week. Much to the dismay of executives at Disney and ABC, NBC aired audio excerpts on Friday night’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williamsand followed with additional reports on MSNBC over the next few days. The publicity surrounding the ABC-NBC squabble and the early leaks certainly helped book sales. Eleven days ago, the book was not on Amazon’s Top 100 sellers list but as the publicity grew it steadily rose through the rankings to land at No. 1 today…. – Hollywood Reporter, 9-14-11
  • Audio tapes reveal Jackie Kennedy’s catty side: It wasn’t for her iconic stature as former first lady and wife to a Greek a shipping magnate. And it wasn’t for her doe-eyed beauty and fabulous haute couture wardrobe.
    As in the French salons she tried to bring to the White House, it was because of the conversation – the gossip, mainly, and the way she could skewer an acquaintance with just a few words.
    In the just-released book and audiotapes, made from interviews she gave almost 50 years ago, we get these examples…. – CBS News, 9-14-11
  • Audio tapes reveal Jackie Kennedy’s catty side: Now we know why Jackie Kennedy was such a sought-after dinner guest. It wasn’t for her iconic stature as former first lady and wife to a Greek a shipping magnate. And it wasn’t for her doe-eyed beauty and fabulous haute couture wardrobe.
    As in the French salons she tried to bring to the White House, it was because of the conversation – the gossip, mainly, and the way she could skewer an acquaintance with just a few words…. – CBS News, 9-14-11
  • In Her Own Words: Audio Tapes Reveal New Details of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Life: Jaqueline Kennedy is forever enduring in the national memory for her poise, grace, and impeccable style. But little is known about how she really felt about her years in the White House and of her relationship with President John F. Kennedy. Now, the world is privy to rare details of the presidency and private life thanks to an oral history of the president, conducted with the widowed First Lady in early 1964, just months after his assassination.
    The 8.5-hour-long series of audio interviews, as well as transcripts, are being released this week as a book entitled “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.” The interviews were conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a historian and Kennedy aide who was close to the family. Previously locked up in the Kennedy Library, the tapes are being released 47 years after they were first conducted. They’re chock-full of juicy gossip and surprising details of the iconic couple’s life…. – Time, 9-12-11
  • New book and audiotapes show new and more personal side to Jackie Kennedy: It’s a side of Jacqueline Kennedy only friends and family knew. Funny and inquisitive, canny and cutting.
    In “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” the former first lady was not yet the jet-setting celebrity of the late 1960s or the literary editor of the 1970s and 1980s. But she was also nothing like the soft-spoken fashion icon of the three previous years. She was in her mid-30s, recently widowed, but dry-eyed and determined to set down her thoughts for history.
    Kennedy met with historian and former White House aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in her 18th-century Washington house in the spring and early summer of 1964. At home and at ease, as if receiving a guest for afternoon tea, she chatted about her husband and their time in the White House. The young Kennedy children, Caroline and John Jr., occasionally popped in. On the accompanying audio discs, you can hear the shake of ice inside a drinking glass. The tapes were to be sealed for decades and were among the last documents of her private thoughts. She never wrote a memoir and became a legend in part because of what we didn’t know.
    The book comes out Wednesday as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s first year in office. Jacqueline Kennedy died in 1994, and Schlesinger in 2007…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Remembering Jacqueline Kennedy: Tomorrow Hyperion will release a set of Jacqueline Kennedy oral histories in book and audio format. The Times yesterday published excerpts from the tapes and tonight ABC will air a two-hour special on them. Mrs. Kennedy’s candid remarks about members of her husband’s Administration and other public figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., have already generated much controversy and discussion…. – New Yorker, 9-13-11
  • Jacqueline Kennedy’s candid look at life with JFK: In the conversations, Kennedy, then 34 years old, also recalls her time in the White House with her husband, John F. Kennedy, as “our happiest years.” The tapes, which have been kept under seal at the Kennedy Library, were released by Caroline Kennedy, 53, who was editor of the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, being published this week by Hyperion. Conducted by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the historian and Kennedy friend and aide, the interviews capture both the intimacy and Cold War tensions at the Kennedy White House…. – USA Today, 9-14-11
  • Will the Jackie Kennedy Tapes Change the Way You Think of Camelot? Audio tapes and book reveal a seven-part interview with Jackie Kennedy conducted in 1964: A 1964 seven-part interview between Jackie Kennedy and Kennedy historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was published as a book and audio tapes Wednesday. The interview was conducted soon after John F. Kennedy’s assassination as part of an oral history of the Kennedy presidency. The tapes were kept under wraps at the first lady’s request, but were finally released by her daughter Caroline to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.
    The tapes provide an intimate look of the marriage between Jackie and the president, as well as her perspective on the people and events that made up the “Camelot” era. In excerpts released in advance, she warmly recalls the 45 minute naps President Kennedy would take—in his pajamas—in the middle of each day. She also recounts the anxiety of the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which she says she told her husband, “If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you. I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too—than live without you.”
    Some of her remarks in the interview are much more controversial. She calls French President Charles de Gaulle an “egomaniac,” civil rights leader Martin Luther King a “phony,” and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi “a real prune—bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.” She also remembers the president saying of his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson, “Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?”
    Some who have already heard the tapes describe them as “explosive.”… – US News, 9-12-11
  • ‘Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words’: Did Diane Sawyer’s special change your opinions about Jackie O?: On the eve of the release of historian Michael Beschloss’ new book, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, Diane Sawyer hosted a two-hour long special chronicling the previously unheard eight-and-a-half hours worth of audio of the former First Lady.
    The ABC special — watch it here — featured the revealing interviews that historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. conducted with Mrs. Kennedy just four months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as well Sawyer’s interview with Caroline Kennedy, who revealed why she opted to release the tapes to the public now…. – EW, 9-14-11
  • Listening to the other voice in the Jackie Kennedy interviews: The voice of Jackie Kennedy’s interviewer belongs to the late historian and former JFK aide Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., whose writings are again timely in this tea-party era. He noted that the Founding Fathers embraced government as a vital help, not an obstacle, to progress…. — CS Monitor, 9-15-11
  • Jackie: JFK mused on own assassination: John F. Kennedy joked about his own possible assassination in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, according to recently released tapes of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
    The tapes, which were the product of conversations with historian and former White House aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in the spring and early summer of 1964, have been released in book form as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s first year in office…. – CBS News, 9-14-11

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    “It’s certainly not the Jackie that we knew later on. By then, she’s a different woman.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian and wife of Richard Goodwin, a Kennedy aide, said in an interview

    The Jackie Kennedy tapes: Catty, but won’t change history: “If people are looking for revelations about her, they will not find them. What I think they reveal is an unerring, all-observing eye…. She did not want to be implored and lobbied by people who wanted her to influence policy, so she assumed a public persona of the ‘anti-Eleanor Roosevelt.’ She was very tactical — almost like a spy.” — Carl Anthony, one of the country’s leading experts on first ladies — WaPo, 9-12-11

    “This book shows Jackie Kennedy unplugged. A lot of the rawness of her feelings, I think, as a young woman — she’s is only in her 30s when she is doing these tapes in 1964 — is very different from the more poised and discreet Jackie Kennedy we got to know in the 1980s and 1990s….
    I “was close to Arthur Schlesinger, the professor. He died a few years ago. Ted Sorensen, one of the other keepers of the flame, died, and I think Caroline Kennedy thought, it’s the 50th anniversary right now of the Kennedy presidency, and this is sitting there, and it was time to let her mother have her say, and decided to come public with this.” — Historian and CBS News analyst Douglas Brinkley on the “Early Show”

    Michael Beschloss: I was surprised that she seemed to have so much influence on JFK’s attitudes toward the people who worked for him. For instance, she she says she disliked Secretary of State Dean Rusk and wished JFK would fire him. He told her he intended to do so in 1964. Others she admired, like Robert McNamara, the Defense Secretary, did extremely well in the Kennedy government. She may not have been the only reason, but what she privately told JFK didn’t hurt. There are many other instances of this in the book.

    Her voice has been virtually missing from the thousands of books written about the Kennedys in the past half-century. After all that’s been written about her, it’s illuminating to listen to her speak for herself without that kind of filter.

    She occasionally would stop the recorder and ask Schlesinger if she should discuss such-and-such. As he later recalled, he almost always told her, “Say everything — you control the tape.” — EW, 9-14-11

    Catherine Allgor: Historian Offers Insight on Jacqueline Kennedy: Catherine Allgor, UC Riverside expert on American first ladies, calls Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis a “woman of her time and place.”
    Jackie Kennedy, Allgor says, “was a woman of her time and place.” “Her articulateness, her insight, her apparent education juxtaposes uneasily with her little-girl wistfulness and her aching insecurity. The Jacqueline we see in photographs and waving at crowds gives an impression of confident command, but the woman so happy that she has made her husband proud has more in common with her infamous relative, ‘Little Edie’ of Grey Gardens (the rundown mansion where Jackie Kennedy’s aunt and first cousin, Edith ‘Big Edie’ Bouvier Beale and Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale lived). Both were women of refinement and intelligence trapped in privileged worlds ruled by men. Both tug at the heart strings.”
    Popular consensus is that the Jacqueline Kennedy tapes won’t add much to our understanding of that period of U.S. history, Allgor says. She disagrees: “That depends on whose history. Her remarks about her marriage and how she felt about herself, about men and women, show Americans how much feminism changed our lives, and how far we have to go.” — UCR Newsroom, 9-14-11

History Buzz Michael Beschloss & Caroline Kennedy: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy Book & Transcript Excerpts

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS: JACQUELINE KENNEDY: HISTORIC CONVERSATION WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY & IN HER OWN WORDS

Jacqueline Kennedy

INTRODUCTION

Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss. Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. Hyperion; Har/Com edition, September 14, 2011

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Online Video ABC

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Jacqueline Kennedy’s style, elegance and courage helped to define an era, but she never spoke publicly about her White House years. Four months after her husband’s death, she recorded a series of interviews for history, specifying the tapes not be released until the appropriate time. Now, nearly 50 years later, Kennedy’s tapes have been released to the public in a new book and audio set…. ABC News

In 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded seven historic interviews about her life with John F. Kennedy. Now, for the first time, they can be heard and read in this deluxe, illustrated book and 8-CD set.
Shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, with a nation deep in mourning and the world looking on in stunned disbelief, Jacqueline Kennedy found the strength to set aside her own personal grief for the sake of posterity and begin the task of documenting and preserving her husband’s legacy. In January of 1964, she and Robert F. Kennedy approved a planned oral-history project that would capture their first-hand accounts of the late President as well as the recollections of those closest to him throughout his extraordinary political career. For the rest of her life, the famously private Jacqueline Kennedy steadfastly refused to discuss her memories of those years, but beginning that March, she fulfilled her obligation to future generations of Americans by sitting down with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and recording an astonishingly detailed and unvarnished account of her experiences and impressions as the wife and confidante of John F. Kennedy. The tapes of those sessions were then sealed and later deposited in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum upon its completion, in accordance with Mrs. Kennedy’s wishes.
The resulting eight and a half hours of material comprises a unique and compelling record of a tumultuous era, providing fresh insights on the many significant people and events that shaped JFK’s presidency but also shedding new light on the man behind the momentous decisions. Here are JFK’s unscripted opinions on a host of revealing subjects, including his thoughts and feelings about his brothers Robert and Ted, and his take on world leaders past and present, giving us perhaps the most informed, genuine, and immediate portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy we shall ever have. Mrs. Kennedy’s urbane perspective, her candor, and her flashes of wit also give us our clearest glimpse into the active mind of a remarkable First Lady.
In conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s Inauguration, Caroline Kennedy and the Kennedy family are now releasing these beautifully restored recordings on CDs with accompanying transcripts. Introduced and annotated by renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss, these interviews will add an exciting new dimension to our understanding and appreciation of President Kennedy and his time and make the past come alive through the words and voice of an eloquent eyewitness to history.

JACKIE KENNEDY TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS

On her husband’s opinion of Lyndon Johnson:

“Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, ‘Oh, God can you ever imagine what would happen if Lyndon was president?’

“Jack would say you could never get an opinion out of Lyndon at any cabinet or national security meeting. He’d just say, you know, that he agreed with them – with everyone – or just keep really quiet.

“So Lyndon, as vice-president, didn’t just do anything.”

On Charles de Gaulle and France

“De Gaulle was my hero when I married Jack,” she says.

But after meeting the French leader during a May 1961 visit, she says she found him “so full of spite”.

She also says: “I loathe the French… They are not very nice, they are all for themselves.”

On fears during the Cuban Missile Crisis

“I went up and listened and eavesdropped [to a debate on the issue]. I could hear [Former Secretary of Defence Robert] McNamara saying something and then I thought I must not listen and went away. But from then on it seemed there was no waking or sleeping.

“And I just don’t know which day was which. And I never left the house or saw the children and when he came home if it was for sleep or for a nap I would sleep with him.

“Please don’t send me away to Camp David. Please don’t send me anywhere, if anything happens we’re all going to stay right here with you. Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House, which I’d seen I said then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens, well I just want to be with you and I just want to die with you and the children do too.”

On JFK joking about the threat of assassination

“And then I remember Jack saying after the Cuban missile crisis, when it all turned [out] so fantastically, he said, ‘Well, if anyone’s ever going to shoot me, this would be the day they should do it.'”

On her husband

“I just wish he could have seen some more good things come in, that he worked so hard for. The tax bill, the civil rights bill, the economy up so high.

“He really did so much. There wasn’t that much more to do, except it would have gelled.”

“Once I asked him – I think this is rather touching – if he could have one wish, what would it be? In other words, you know, looking back on his life, and he said, ‘I wish I had more good times.'”

On JFK’s reaction to the botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba

“He came back over to the White House to his bedroom and he started to cry, just with me. You know, just for one – just put his head in his hands and sort of wept.

“It was so sad, because all his first 100 days and all his dreams, and then this awful thing to happen. And he cared so much.”

On Martin Luther King

“I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible.”

On entering the White House

“I was always a liability to him [John F Kennedy], everyone thought I was a snob from Newport who had bouffant hair and had French clothes and hated politics.”

“When we got in the White House all the things that I’d always done suddenly became wonderful. And I was so happy for Jack. He could be proud of me then because it made him so happy. Made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.”

On JFK meeting Winston Churchill in the 1950s

“Jack had always wanted to meet Churchill. Well, the poor man was really quite ga-ga then.

“I felt so sorry for Jack that evening because he was meeting his hero, only he met him too late.”

On future Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

She calls Ms Gandhi a “bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”

FOREWARD BY CAROLINE KENNEDY

In 1964, as part of an oral history project on the life and career of John F. Kennedy, my mother sat down with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., to share her memories and insights. Recorded less than four months after the death of her husband, they represent a gift to history and a labor of love on her part. In order to treat them with the appropriate respect, my children and I took very seriously the decision to publish them now, in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s presidency. The moment seems right—enough time has passed so that they can be appreciated for their unique insight, yet the Kennedy presidency is still within living memory for many who will find her observations illuminating. I hope too that younger generations who are just learning about the 1960s will find these reminiscences a useful introduction to how history is made, and will be inspired to give back to this country that has given us all so much.

When I was growing up, my mother spent much of her time meeting behind closed doors with members of my father’s administration, planning his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery, making sure that the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would reflect his commitment to our country’s cultural heritage, executing his wishes for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and the Institute of Politics, and making countless decisions on the disposition of my father’s official papers, personal effects, mementos, and memorabilia. She was determined that the Kennedy Library would be a living memorial, a place where students would be inspired to pursue careers in public service, where scholars would have access to the historical record, and where families could learn about the ideals that animated my father’s career and his vision for America. These meetings were somewhat mysterious, but my brother and I had a sense that nothing was more important than the “oral history” that we heard about from time to time.

My parents shared a love of history. To them, the past was not an academic concern, but a gathering of the most fascinating people you could ever hope to meet. My father’s interests were political—I still have his books on the Civil War and English parliamentary history, as well as his annotated copy of The Federalist Papers. My mother thought there weren’t enough women in American history to make it as interesting as reading novels and diaries from the courts of Europe. She read War and Peace during the Wisconsin primary, and maintained that reading the Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon about life at Versailles was the most valuable preparation she received for life in the White House.

After my father’s death, my mother resolved to do everything she could to make sure that the record of his administration was preserved. She had confidence that his decisions would stand the test of time and wanted future generations to learn what an extraordinary man he was. She helped set in motion one of the most extensive oral history projects ever conducted up to that time, in which more than one thousand people were interviewed about their life and work with John F. Kennedy. Although it was painful for my mother to relive the life since shattered, she knew it was important that she participate. She always told us that she chose to be interviewed by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, former Harvard professor, and special assistant to President Kennedy, because she was doing this for future generations, and that was why she put the tapes in a vault to be sealed for fifty years.

I first read transcripts of these conversations a few weeks after my mother’s death in 1994 when the vault was opened and her lawyer gave me a copy. Everything about that time was overwhelming for me as I found myself faced with the same sorts of decisions about her possessions that she had made thirty years earlier. Knowing her wishes for the oral history made it easy—I knew I was reading something that wasn’t supposed to be seen yet—and although I found it fascinating, I put it back in the vault to await its time.

A few years ago, my family began thinking about how to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s presidency. We decided to concentrate our efforts on projects that would make his legacy accessible worldwide. Working with the staff of the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation and generous private partners, my husband led the effort to create the largest existing digital archive of a presidency, as well as online curricula, downloadable exhibits, and a Web site—www.jfk50.org—intended to renew my father’s call to service for today’s generation.

The publication of these interviews is an important contribution to this commemorative effort, and one with its own story. When the director of the Kennedy Library first approached me with the idea, I asked him to search the archives to confirm my mother’s wishes regarding the date of publication. Surprisingly, given the importance of the material, there was no deed of gift or transfer, nor a letter of intent regarding the date at which the interviews were to be opened. There was only a brief notation by a former government archivist that these interviews were “subject to the same restrictions as the Manchester interviews.” By way of background, there are three significant interviews that my mother gave after my father’s death. The first was to Theodore H. White in Hyannis Port on November 29, 1963, only a few days after my father’s funeral. In that interview, my mother famously told White that she and my father used to listen to the record of the Broadway musical Camelot in the evening before they went to bed, and looking back, “that one brief shining moment” reminded her of his presidency. White’s article was published a week later in Life magazine, but the notes of his interview were sealed until one year after my mother’s death. They are now open to researchers at the Kennedy Library in Boston.

The second set of conversations was with William Manchester, who was writing a book called The Death of a President. During the sessions my mother said more about my father’s assassination than she had intended. Subsequently, she became so upset at the thought of her personal memories becoming public that she sued the author and publisher to keep them out of the book. A settlement was reached, and although much of the content made its way into the public sphere, the notes of the interviews were sealed for 100 years—that is, until 2067.

By far the most important were these oral history conversations with Arthur Schlesinger in which my mother willingly recalled the span of her married life, and shared her insights into my father’s private and public political personality. The archivist’s notation regarding the date of publication was not consistent with my memory, nor did it seem to reflect my mother’s wishes. I checked with former members of her staff in the White House and afterward, as well as other friends and attorneys. No one had a recollection that differed from mine, and they were enthusiastic about the idea of publication.

So I was faced with a dilemma that I have confronted numerous times in connection with my mother’s personal papers and correspondence. On one hand, she was a famously private person who gave no on-the-record interviews (other than these three) about life in the White House, and requested in her will that my brother and I make every effort to prevent publication of her personal papers, letters, and writings.

However, she also saved every scrap of paper that came her way—every birthday card or telegram, every letter from her parents, every date book and diary, every draft letter or memo she ever wrote. She knew that living in the White House was an enormous privilege and she was proud of the part she had played. Early on, when she discovered that one of her secretaries was throwing out notes and internal correspondence that chronicled both daily life and the official workings of the mansion, she wrote a steaming rebuke—directing everyone on her staff to save even the smallest scribbles. Her deep immersion in memoirs of the past informed her belief that she had an obligation to preserve everything that happened during her time in the White House. In the years since her death, I have asked myself the question, When does someone no longer belong to you, but belong to history? Few people have been written about more than my mother, and I grew up feeling I needed to protect her—just as she had protected us. So at first I thought it best to leave these interviews sealed for another fifty years, rather than to expose her memory to one more round of gossip and speculation. But I also understand that the continuing interest in her life is a tribute to the immense admiration and goodwill she still commands, and I believe that open access to government is an important American value.

Over the years, I have received multiple requests to publish my mother’s memos and correspondence. At times, it has been difficult to balance her wish for privacy against her public role and pay proper respect to both. Although I agonize over each request, I know that my mother trusted my judgment and felt that I understood her outlook on life. As the years pass, it has become less painful to share her with the world, and in fact, it is a privilege. As her child, it has sometimes been hard for me to reconcile that most people can identify my mother instantly, but they really don’t know her at all. They may have a sense of her style and her dignified persona, but they don’t always appreciate her intellectual curiosity, her sense of the ridiculous, her sense of adventure, or her unerring sense of what was right. Over time, I have tried to draw the line between her public and private life much as I think she did—I try to accommodate requests that pertain to my father’s career, life in the White House, historic events and historic preservation, while denying permission for publication of her writings as a private citizen—whether as a young woman or a working editor.

These conversations are not in the same category as her personal writings, because they were recorded with the intention that they would be made accessible one day. So it was not a question of whether to publish but a question of when, and the decision was up to me. My experience with other requests informed my decision that the time was right.

In reaching this conclusion, I found it helpful to remember the context in which the interviews were conducted, and the timing of when they occurred. The goal was to create a record of my father’s life and career from the memories of those who knew and worked with him. Accordingly, the questions follow a loosely chronological sequence beginning with my father’s early political battles in Massachusetts, his 1956 fight for the vice-presidential nomination, the 1960 campaign, the transition to the presidency, the Inauguration, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, official and family life in the White House, and plans for the 1964 campaign and a second term. Along the way, there are discussions that reveal much about the central characters and events of the time in both domestic politics and international affairs.

The decision was complicated by my conviction that if my mother had reviewed the transcripts, I have no doubt she would have made revisions. She was a young widow in the extreme stages of grief. The interviews were conducted only four months after she had lost her husband, her home, and her sense of purpose. She had two young children to raise alone. It isn’t surprising that there are some statements she would later have considered too personal, and others too harsh. There are things I am sure she would have added, and her views certainly evolved over time. I struggled with the question of whether to delete remarks that might be taken out of context. I was aware that my intentions might be misinterpreted, even if the edited version was a more “accurate” reflection of how she really felt. After much deliberation, I decided to maintain the integrity of the audio interviews as a primary source while editing the text slightly for readability, not content, as has been done with other presidential transcripts and oral history interviews.

My reservations were mitigated by the remarkable immediacy and the informality of the conversations. Knowing my mother so well, I can hear her voice in my mind when I read her words on a page. I can tell when she is emotional, when she is enjoying herself, or is getting annoyed—though she is unfailingly polite. Even though most of her answers are about my father, by listening to the audio, people will learn a great deal about the person that she was. Much is revealed by her tone, and by her pauses as well as by her statements. I trust that readers and listeners will place her views in context to build an accurate and composite portrait of a person and a moment in time, and that her devotion to her husband will come through to others as it does to me.

In addition to their passion for history, my parents shared a conviction that American civilization had come of age. Today this seems an unremarkable proposition, but at the time the United States was just emerging as a global power, and people still looked to Europe for direction and leadership. My parents believed America should lead with her ideals, not just with economic or military power, and they wanted to share our artistic and cultural achievements with the world. My mother played a critical role in the development of what is now called “soft diplomacy.” She traveled with my father and on her own, often speaking the language of the countries she visited. She was an international sensation.

She also understood that the White House itself was a powerful symbol of our democracy, and wanted to make sure it projected the best of America to students and families who visited, as well as to foreign heads of state who were entertained there. She worked hard—not to “redecorate,” a word she hated—but to “restore” the White House so that the legacy of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln would be visible. She recast the White House Library to showcase classic works of American history and literature. She established the Fine Arts Committee and White House Historical Association to assemble a permanent collection of American paintings and decorative arts that would become one of the nation’s finest. She made the White House the world’s greatest stage and invited the world’s foremost artists to perform there. She welcomed young musicians, emerging African-American opera singers, jazz musicians, and modern dancers—all to awaken and expand appreciation for American arts and culture.

She felt strongly that as our capital city, Washington, D.C., should reflect America’s newly prominent place in the world. She fought to preserve Lafayette Square, and launched the effort to rehabilitate Pennsylvania Avenue—an effort that has been sustained ever since. My mother understood that the past was a source of pride for people around the world, just as it is in America, and convinced my father that the United States could build goodwill among countries like Egypt, with which we had political differences, by assisting in their historic preservation efforts. Her persistence resulted in a generous U.S. contribution to the UNESCO rescue of the temples of Abu Simbel, which were threatened by the construction of the Aswan Dam, and favorably impressed the Nasser regime. In another example of cultural diplomacy, my mother was responsible for the Mona Lisa’s visit to the United States, the only time the painting has ever left the Louvre.

Most important, she believed her responsibility was to help my father in every way she could. Although she became a diplomatic and even a political asset, she never thought she deserved the title “First Lady,” which she disliked anyway, claiming it sounded like the name of a racehorse. But she was deeply patriotic and proud of what she accomplished, and my father was proud of her too. Their time in the White House was the happiest of her life.

Given the important role Jacqueline Kennedy played in the presidency of John F. Kennedy and its aftermath, it seemed a disservice to let her perspective remain absent from the public and scholarly debate that would accompany the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy administration. Fifty years seems a sufficient time for passions to have cooled, yet recent enough that the world described still has much to teach us. The sense of time passing was made more acute by the loss of my uncle Teddy and my aunt Eunice in 2009, by Ted Sorensen in 2010, and my uncle Sarge in January 2011.

But, before making the final decision, I asked my children to read the transcripts and tell me what they thought. Their reactions were not so different from my own. They found the conversations dated in many ways—but fascinating in many more. They loved the stories about their grandfather, and how insightful yet irreverent their grandmother was. They were puzzled by some of Arthur Schlesinger’s questions—personal rivalries he pursued and particular issues that have not stood the test of time. They wished that he had asked more questions about her.

But they came away with the same conclusions that I had reached—there was no significant reason to put off publication and no one speaks better for my mother than she does herself.

—NEW YORK, 2011

Political Buzz August 4, 2011: Happy Birthday Mr. President! President Barack Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday at Chicago DNC Fundraiser & at White House Rose Garden BBQ

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTDAY

Barack Obama 2012: Sign the President’s 50th Birthday Card

“I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs. — Michelle Obama in a campaign email

“It is true that I turn 50 tomorrow (Thursday), which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an e-mail from AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.” — President Barack Obama in Chicago, 8-3-11

“Even if I live to be 100. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows.” — President Bill Clinton, 1996 at 50

“Actually, the anniversaries of my birth aren’t important. What is important is that I have tried to lead a meaningful life and I think I have.” — President Ronald Reagan

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.” — President John F. Kennedy, 1962 at 45

Barack Obama Turning 50: ‘I Feel Real Good’: U.S. president may be a bit grayer but says first lady still thinks he’s cute.
As Obama Celebrates Birthday, a Look at U.S. Presidents at 50
President Obama turns 50 Aug. 4, 2011. Despite the graying hair and stresses of the job, “I feel real good about 5-0,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten a little grayer since I took this job but otherwise, I feel pretty good,” he said, adding that the first lady still thinks he’s cute. He attended a birthday fundraiser Wednesday and planned two celebrations for his birthday. He was expected to spend the weekend at Camp David with family and friends…. – ABC News, 8-4-11

50 Things You Might Not Know About President Obama On His 50th Birthday: 1. He and Bill Cosby are the only people to ever get free food from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
2. He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper when he lived in Indonesia.
3. He says his favorite children’s book is “Where the Wild Things Are.”
4. He owns a pair of boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali.
5. He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
6. He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager.
7. His favorite show is “The Wire.”
8. He majored in Political Science at Columbia University.
9. His father grew up herding goats.
10. He used to drive a Chrysler 300m.
11. He used the n-word in his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
12. He watches HBO’s “Entourage.”
13. He was an avid reader of the “Autobiography Of Malcolm X.”
14. He owns several Bob Marley albums.
15. His first date with wife, Michelle Obama, was the movie “Do The Right Thing.”
16. He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia.
17. He applied to appear in a Black pin-up calendar while at Harvard, but was rejected by the all-female committee.
18. His favorite book is “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville
19. His favorite movie is the “Godfather.”
20. His high school yearbook picture inscription thanks “Tut,” “Gramps,” and the “Choom Gang.” Choom is Hawaiian slang for “pot smoking.”
21. He has seven half-brothers and sisters in Kenya from his father’s other marriages.
22. He did a good imitation of Jesse Jackson while he was at Harvard.
23. His high school nick name was “O-bomber.”
24. He won a Grammy for his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
25. He has read every Harry Potter book.
26. He was called Barry until he became known as Barack in college.
27. He was in the Columbia Black Student Union.
28. Jesse Jackson’s daughter is his daughter Malia’s godmother.
29. His favorite artist is Pablo Picasso.
30. He can bench press 200 pounds.
31. His name means blessed by God in Swahili.
32. He was the 5th African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
33. He enjoys rap artists The Fugees and Jay-Z.
34. He gets his hair cut once a week.
35. He says he would’ve been an architect if he wasn’t a politician.
36. He was on the Hawaii high school state basketball champion team.
37. He was mentored by Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree who was also the lawyer for rappers Tupac and Shyne.
38. He loves playing Scrabble.
39. His favorite president is Abraham Lincoln.
40. He traveled to Kenya in 1988 and met many of his paternal relatives.
41. His favorite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini.
42. His paternal grandfather was affiliated with the Kenyan revolutionary Mau Mau movement.
43. His maternal grandfather fought in World War II.
44. Some of his maternal ancestors were slave owners.
45. He moved to Chicago and worked as a director of the Developing Communities Project after college.
46. He has a beer named after him in Kenya.
47. He wrote a children’s book “Of Thee I Sing.”
48. His father attended Harvard University.
49. His first public speech was at Occidental College, calling for the school to disinvest from apartheid South Africa.
50. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School.
News One, 8-4-11

    • Obama’s Rose Garden 50th Birthday Bash: The President’s private 50th birthday bash, not listed on his public schedule: His gift to the press corps was a travel/photo lid shortly after 4 p.m., prompting what pooler Julie Mason called “general cheering in WH workspace.” An hour later, the party started…
      –… with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Then the First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” DJ Cassidy played Motown, hip hop, and ’70s and ’80s R&B.
      –The president asked everyone to dance — and they did!
      –DINNER: BBQ chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, salad.
      –DESSERT: apple, peach, huckleberry and cherry pies; chocolate cake.
      –GUESTS: Al Sharpton, Patrick Gaspard, UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Leader Nancy and Paul Pelosi, Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep./DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Virginia Gov. and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Michael Strautmanis, Pete Rouse, Bill Daley, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Denis McDonough, John Brennan, Rahm Emanuel, Tina Tchen, White House chef Sam Kass, Julianna Smoot, Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker, Linda Douglass, and many more.
      –CELEBS: Jay-Z, Hill Harper, Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Grant Hill, Gayle King.
      –Also present: Chicago pals, law-school friends, donors – and lots of kids of friends, who stole the show by doing dance routines to the hip-hop songs, in the center of the East Room… – Politico, 8-5-11 Chicago Sun-Times, 8-5-11 Fox News, 8-5-11
    • President Obama Celebrates Birthday in Private Star-Studded Rose Garden Party: White House officials offered no details about the Rose Garden barbecue and birthday party thrown for President Obama last night. No menu, no guest list, the event did not appear on his official schedule.
      Their silence might be so as to not create the impression that the president was celebrating just hours after the Dow Jones fell 500 points. Politicians hate to be portrayed as fiddling while Rome burns, Nero-style.
      “Just left the Presidents birthday party at the White House. Herbie Hancock played, Stevie Wonder sang and yes they did the electric slide. A great night,” comedian Chris Rock tweeted.
      Rock joined other celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Jay-Z, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and Grant Hill, as well as the Rev. Al Sharpton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House chief of staff Bill Daley, senior adviser David Plouffe, political advisers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and more…. – ABC News, 8-4-11
    • Obama celebrates 50th birthday at White House: With the arduous debt talks behind him, President Barack Obama celebrated his 50th birthday at the White House Thursday with a Rose Garden party, a toast from his senior staff and some good-natured ribbing from his wife.
      After spending the morning of his milestone birthday working in the Oval Office, the president headed to the Blue Room of the White House for a celebration with top aides. White House chefs were spotted cooking chicken and burgers on outdoor grills.
      Later, Obama was celebrating with family and friends, including some who came in from his hometown of Chicago, in the Rose Garden. The president’s oldest daughter, Malia, also made it home from summer camp in time to celebrate her dad’s 50th…. – AP, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th Birthday: A Private Celebration: President Barack Obama is keeping a very low profile on his 50th birthday.
      He is celebrating at the White House Thursday evening with family and a close group of friends. Some of the guests flew in from his hometown of Chicago, and the president’s daughter Malia came home from camp for the day to celebrate.
      Several grills were fired up outside the West Wing all afternoon, cooking burgers for the occasion. But before Mr. Obama hits the barbecue, senior White House staff will toast him in the residence, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
      Mr. Obama had no events on his schedule, and Mr. Carney said the public will not see the president at all on this milestone day.
      Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is making the most of the president’s birthday. Mr. Obama headlined a trio of birthday-themed campaign events in Chicago Wednesday night…. – WSJ, 8-4-11
    • ‘Happy birthday, Mr President’: Jennifer Hudson channels Marilyn Monroe as she serenades Barack Obama at 50th: Marilyn Monroe went down in history when she purred a seductive ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F Kennedy back in 1962.
      And last night, it was Jennifer Hudson’s turn to channel the late film star by singing the song to President Barack Obama, albeit in a much more low key style…. – Daily Mail UK, 8-4-11
    • Here to raise dough, celebrate big 5-0, Obama says: ‘It starts now’: President Barack Obama left the heated partisan atmosphere in Washington on Wednesday for an overly warm hometown 50th Birthday Party with 2,400 fans and donors packing the historic Aragon Ballroom in Uptown.
      “It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got me — you’ve got my back,” President Obama told the crowd. “When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.”
      Introducing Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “This looks like the Uptown Music District,” a reference to one of the mayor’s pet entertainment projects.
      With Jennifer Hudson leading the crowd in singing Obama “Happy Birthday” and with a thermometer on the stage reading 92 degrees, Obama joked, “This is a warm welcome right here.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th celebration: Tame by presidential standards: President Obama’s celebration of his 50th birthday is pretty tame by presidential standards, lacking starlets sewn into sheer rhinestone-studded dresses, fireworks, or the 300-pound cakes trotted out at parties thrown for some of his predecessors in the White House.
      For Obama, his birthday on Thursday gave him an excuse to visit ever so briefly his hometown of Chicago, something he rarely gets to do. And, of course, an excuse to raise more money for Democrats, something he does quite frequently with the 2012 campaign fast approaching.
      The Wednesday night event at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom was planned as a lavish event, featuring singer Jennifer Hudson and musician Herbie Hancock. The donors there to sing “Happy Birthday” paid $35,800 a head for the special dinner that goes along with the show. The money—split between Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee—will be welcome after the debt-ceiling fight forced him to cancel other fundraisers planned for July.
      Obama, the fifth youngest president, is the seventh president to turn 50 in office; the last before him was Bill Clinton in 1996. The other five—Polk, Pierce, Grant, Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt—were born between 1795 and 1858 and chose to celebrate the big day pretty quietly. But quiet was not Clinton’s style…. – National Journal, 8-4-11
    • Mr. Obama’s $3,580,000 birthday present: Barack Obama turned 50 years old today. Happy birthday Mr. President. For the sake of America, I will not sing to you. I am no Marilyn Monroe.
      The best birthday wish we can give him is to have an enjoyable day with Michelle, Sasha, and Malia. May his children give him joy for many years to come.
      The day will be a celebration of Barack Obama, rendering it indistinguishible from every other day in his life. Nevertheless, today he actually is entitled to be king for a day. Tomorrow he will have to take his tiara off again.
      Mr. Obama was given a birthday president of $3,580,000, or 89% of a Kobe Bryant apology diamond. 100 obese felines, an animal that Obama pretends to disdain, all donated $35,800 for the right to inspect his (backside, redacted) and make sure it was as clean and delightful as MSNBC insists. He has every right to this money. He “earned” it…. Washington Times, 8-4-11
    • President Barack Obama Turns 50: What do you get the man who has everything? That’s the question friends and family of President Barack Obama will answer Thursday, when he celebrates his 50th birthday in Washington, D.C. According to a White House official, Obama will spend the morning working, but will later retreat to an afternoon toast by his senior staff in the blue room, and an evening celebration with family and close friends.
      “Malia is coming home from camp tomorrow just for her daddy’s birthday,” he told attendees at a Democratic National Convention fundraiser in Chicago Wednesday night. “I’m very happy about that.”… – People, 8-4-11
    • For Obama, turning 50, it’s happy fund-raising: For many men, turning 50 can be a day of reckoning, marked by graying hair, a slowing step and the wistful recognition that you are probably never going to make it to the corner office. What could be better, at such a melancholy moment, than to celebrate at home, among old friends?
      But if you are already in the corner office, and it’s oval, you get to celebrate your 50th at a fund-raiser in a Chicago ballroom, with Jennifer Hudson singing “Happy Birthday,” Herbie Hancock jamming and 100 “friends” paying $35,800 a plate to commiserate over dinner, while bankrolling your bid to keep your job… – Economic Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s new fundraising speech: 2008 was really bad, so I need a second term: After a rough month of enforced presidenting from within the White House, President Obama fled Washington and governing Wednesday, back to Chicago allegedly to celebrate his birthday with home folks. But, of course, the real reason was campaigning for money, raising more of it from the Windy City for his billion-dollar reelection campaign. The Wednesday highlight was supposed to be a high-stakes dinner with the president, which isn’t really dinner with the president because he just arrives late, speaks briefly and leaves without eating. The tab: $35,800 per plate.
      Despite enduring a newly sagging economy and the worst wrong track and job approval numbers of his presidency, this 50th birthday of Obama’s is turning out to be a big deal. His Russian pal, President Dmitry Medvedev, called the other day. Jennifer Hudson sang for him Wednesday. Little Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor Emanuel, praised him highly.
      Some Obama staff traveled out to Andrews Air Force Base to greet the returning POTUS at…. …midnight and sing for him. But Obama apparently couldn’t hear them. And then tonight there’s a White House birthday party, which Donald Trump is not expected to attend…. – LAT, 8-4-11
    • Michelle Obama: Husband is earning his gray hairs: First lady Michelle Obama is joining the public celebrations of her husband’s 50th birthday, sending an e-mail to supporters asking them to sign an Internet birthday card…. – USA Today, 8-4-11
    • Turning 50, President Obama becomes a Washington tweener: Washington venerates its ancients, idealizing and idolizing the elder statesman, lavishing perks and institutional potency as rewards for seniority.
      Yet the city also runs on the fuel of youth, the recent college grads who staff the offices, and the rising professionals whose ambitions juice the city’s striver culture.
      In the fuzzy middle between those poles lie the 50-somethings, federal Washington’s version of tweeners, a demographic group fraught with generation-straddling, career-tweaking, life-altering conundrums: Dump that modest-paying but idealistic government gig for private-sector riches? Hang in there for one more term in hopes that a committee chairmanship finally will be yours?
      On Thursday, President Obama — one of American history’s most precocious achievers — joins the ranks of Washington 50-somethings, an age span he’ll share with 29 U.S. senators but just one of 16 Senate committee chairmen (that would be Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who sits atop the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee). Reaching the pinnacle of American power so early means Obama will have to figure out what to do with himself for a big chunk of his 50s, whether in 2013, when he could become a 51-year-old one-termer, or in 2017, when he could leave office as a 55-year-old two-termer.
      Obama will become just the third president to turn 50 in office in more than 130 years, following Theodore Roosevelt, whose low-key 50th in 1908 prompted a stream of messenger boys delivering congratulatory notes to the White House, and Bill Clinton, who celebrated hitting the mid-century mark in 1996 with a star-studded party and fundraiser.
      As Obama’s 50th approaches, he’s taken to quipping about getting grayer, but he still gets up and down a basketball court without reaching for the oxygen tank. Obama celebrated his 49th last year by dining with Oprah Winfrey and a few other friends while his wife and kids were vacationing. This year, he’s expected to do it up big, with a party in Chicago featuring Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock, and a $35,800-a-head fundraiser…. – WaPo, 8-2-11

Michelle Obama:

Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs.
This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack’s 50th birthday. I’m writing to you because this year, the girls and I would like to do something a little different.
I’m asking friends and supporters of this campaign to wish him a happy birthday by signing his card, and sharing why you’re on this journey with us.
Your names and notes will become part of a book that tells the story of this campaign — who’s building it, why we’re in this thing, and what he means to us. We’ll deliver a copy to Barack and send one to our campaign offices across the country.
I’ve known Barack for more than 20 of his 50 years, and we’ve been through quite a lot together.
It still amazes me that no matter how many decisions and distractions he’s faced with every day, he’s always able to focus on the bigger picture. One way he does that is by making time for stories and letters from people like you — because he knows that this job isn’t about him, but about the millions of folks around the country he’s fighting for.
This next year will challenge us all to work harder than ever before, but the crucial thing is that you’re here now, early on, helping to build this campaign.
I know that, like Barack and me, you have your own reasons why, so I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the card and share your story with him and other supporters of this campaign.
http://my.barackobama.com/Birthday-Card
Thanks for being a part of this.

David Eisebach: Porn king Larry Flynt book bares politicians’ scandalous lives in “One Nation Under Sex”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: Philadelphia Daily News, 7-24-11

Weary of sex scandals that have rocked all portions of our government in recent years, there’s a lot of talk on the campaign trail about getting back to the principles of our nation’s Founding Fathers.

One Nation Under Sex

That sentiment may change if people read the new book, “One Nation Under Sex,” by Larry Flynt and historian David Eisenbach, because men such as Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson would make Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger seem like choirboys, and the partisan press of their era would make the tabloids of today read like children’s books.

Flynt and Eisenbach, however, are not simply concerned about getting under the covers, or hiding in the closets, of the White House. Their book deals with how the private lives of politicians have affected the nation’s public policies — how Franklin’s womanizing helped the colonists gain the support of France, how President James Buchanan’s alleged homosexuality helped bring about the Civil War, how Franklin Roosevelt’s affair(s) forced shy wife Eleanor out of her shell to become one of the great first ladies.

Of course, there are whole chapters on Clinton and the Kennedys (according to the authors, John Kennedy said that he would get migraines if he didn’t have sex with different women; brother Bobby Kennedy had an affair with Jackie after the president’s death; and Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in brother Ted Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick, had previously been Bobby’s mistress).

Flynt, the well-known pornographer and activist, said in an interview earlier this month that he’s always been interested in politics and that when he was talking with his publisher about a book on the subject, the publisher “suggested I do it in a historical context.”

He found a kindred spirit in Eisenbach, a Columbia University professor, who created and hosted the History Channel program “The Beltway Unbuckled.”

During the early days of the country, the press played an active role going after politicians (the newspapers of the day generally were in the pocket of one side or the other), but after a while such unseemly gossip-mongering gave way to the press protecting presidents (and athletes, movie stars, etc.). Everyone in the White House press corps knew who was having affairs — they just kept quiet. These days, it’s again open season.

But such behavior has been going on forever with powerful men — “They have huge egos and need to be fed by sexual conquest,” Flynt said — and voters would be silly to think it’s ever going to stop. Or that it should.“Americans need to adopt one simple rule,” the authors write. “Don’t trust anyone who dedicates his or her life to stomping out other people’s consensual sexual activities — it is pretty much guaranteed that lurking behind all the antisex zealotry are deep-seated sexual issues.”…

The book makes its case that powerful people go after what they want, and the rest of us might as well expect that and move on. The more that politicians repress their sexual instincts, the book alleges, the more troubling their decision-making often becomes.

But don’t expect the nation to give up its fascination with sex scandals any time soon. “It’s like a car crash,” Flynt said. “Everyone wants to stop and look. When it comes to sex scandals, everyone wants to know more.”

Robert Dallek: JFK predicted death would protect his legacy, historian claims

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

‘If anyone’s going to shoot me, it should happen now’: JFK predicted death would protect his legacy, historian claims

Remarks were inspired by assessment of career of Civil War President Abraham Lincoln

President John F Kennedy predicted his assassination would protect his legacy, according to a historian who has examined secret interviews with  his widow Jackie.

Previously unheard conversations involving Mrs Kennedy after her husband’s death in 1963 show he made the assessment after the Cuban missile crisis a year earlier, according to Professor Robert Dallek.

Mrs Kennedy’s interviews reveal the president had declared: ‘If anyone’s going to kill me, it should happen now.’.

US President John F. Kennedy Jacqueline Kennedy Dallas Texas November 22, 1963US President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, moments before his assassination on November 22, 1963

Professor Dallek, a Kennedy expert, made the revelation after examining Jacqueline Kennedy’s Oral History – conversations the former First Lady had with historian Arthur M Schlesinger Jnr in 1964.

The series of seven undisclosed interviews are to be broadcast in September, as part of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.

Professor Dallek said they  revealed JFK’s remarks had been inspired by one of late historian David Herbert Donald’s lectures on Abraham Lincoln.

John Wilkes Booth Abraham Lincoln Coward: John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln in his box at the at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865 after the South lost the Civil War

He added: ‘At that lecture, Kennedy asked Professor Donald, if Lincoln had lived, would his reputation be as great as it currently is in the  United States?

‘And predictably, Donald said probably not because he would have had to have wrestled with the problems of reconstruction, the post-Civil  War era.

‘Kennedy, remembering that, said to Mrs Kennedy after his success in the Cuban missile crisis…“if anyone’s going to kill me, it should happen now”.’

JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas.

%d bloggers like this: