How Genuine Was John F. Kennedy's Concern for Black Civil Rights?

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How genuine was J. F. Kennedy’s concern for Black Civil Rights? When John F. Kennedy took up his position as President in January 1961, he faced the daunting task of addressing ever-increasing demands for racial equality whilst trying not to alienate those in the South who maintained hard-line views on the matter. Alongside this he also had an abundance of other issues to be concerned with. Ultimately he did succeed, to some extent, in bringing about change but it is a question of debate as to whether the passage of legislation under Kennedy was the result of a true sense of moral responsibility and sincere concern for equality or whether political pragmatism and self-image had more to do with it. Assessing how Kennedy actually assisted the cause and what his motives were for carrying out individual actions can help us to reflect upon whether he was genuine in his concern for Black Civil Rights. Having grown up in an Irish Catholic family in Boston that had been subject to discriminatory behaviour, Kennedy should have been able to sympathise with the kind of prejudice and racism that many blacks had to deal with in the America that existed throughout Kennedy’s political career. However his political career pre-presidency suggested otherwise. In 1957, just three years before he was to be voted in as president, Kennedy voted against Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Act. Such a move was tactical, as voting for the Act would have placed Kennedy in a politically unfavourable position due to his reliance on support from southern senators, who were inherently racist. Voting in this way was therefore not necessarily reflective of Kennedy’s personal opinion. At this time Senator Kennedy employed a black secretary and two black attorneys as advisors, which tells us that he himself was not a racist and on a personal level seemed to encourage the employment of black people into
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