King, Kennedy, and the Civil Rights Movement

This Review of the Week provides a brief history of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

Kennedy and King : the president, the pastor, and the battle over civil rights

Levingston, Steven. Hachette Books, 2017
511p bibl index, 9780316267397 $28.00, 9780316267403

Kennedy and King : the president, the pastor, and the battle over civil rights book cover

The quiet, reserved Martin Luther King, Jr. worked tirelessly to bring the ebullient, extroverted John F. Kennedy to see civil rights as a moral crusade demanding the same urgency the president devoted to the economy and foreign affairs. Needing southern support, Kennedy moved cautiously, while King, the pastor, educator, and activist, chided him for not acting forcefully. King knew the press covered his every word and that the president would read about it. As government inaction caused King to move toward militant protest, he unsuccessfully urged Kennedy to accept a second emancipation proclamation. The violence in Albany, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama, along with the attempts to desegregate the universities of Alabama and Mississippi, brought into focus the division between states’ rights and federal power, forcing Kennedy to accept the moral imperative that brought on the civil rights bill. Though neither universally accepted nor always successful, together King and Kennedy altered the American landscape to create legislation moving the nation closer to the Declaration of Independence’s acknowledgement that all are created equal, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This book is a must read for understanding the civil rights movement.

Summing Up: Essential. All Readership Levels
Reviewer: D. R. Jamieson, Ashland University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Mar 2018