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To What Extent Did Kennedy And Johnson Improve Civil Rights Of African Americans?

1333 words - 5 pages

IntroThis essay will show how these two presidents tackled the problem of Civil rights of African Americans and it will demonstrate the extent of improvements and what remained the same. When one compares the extent of improvements which these two presidents make, the immediate reaction would be one praise towards President Kennedy because of his ultimate death while one would demonise President Johnson cause of Vietnam. This essay will show how little Kennedy actually accomplished as president but how much Johnson and the civil rights movement achieved thanksTo be able to compare and objectively see the extent to which these two presidents improved civil rights for African Americans, we must first ascertain what their goals were and if they accomplished them or not; establish the extent of what they did with president each of the surrounding circumstances.In the early 1960S, the drive for voting rights became a central part of the major southern-based civil rights organizations' strategy -- the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), headed by Martin Luther King Jr., and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), led by Bob Moses, John Lewis and James Forman.Argument for KennedyWhat did Kennedy do to advance the cause of civil rights?1) He put pressure on federal government organisations to employ more African Americans. Any who were employed were usually in the lowest paid posts and in jobs that had little prospect of professional progress. The FBI only employed 48 African Americans out of a total of 13,649 and these 48 were nearly all chauffeurs. Kennedy did more than any president before him to have more African Americans appointed to federal government posts. In total, he appointed 40 to senior federal positions including five as federal judges2) Kennedy appointed his brother (Robert) as Attorney General which put him at the head of the Justice Department. Their tactic was to use the law courts as a way of enforcing already passed civil rights legislation. The Justice Department brought 57 law suits against local officials for obstructing African Americans who wished to register their right to vote. Local officials from Louisiana were threatened with prison for contempt when they refused to hand over money to newly desegregated schools. Such a threat prompted others in Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans to hand over finance without too many problems - few if any were willing to experience the American penal system which had a policy of punishment then as opposed to reforming prisoners.3) Kennedy was very good at what would appear to be small gestures. In American football, the Washington Redskins were the last of the big teams to refuse to sign African Americans. Their stadium was federally funded and Kennedy ordered that they were no longer allowed to use the stadium and would have to find a new one. The team very quickly signed up African American players.4) Kennedy created the CEEO (Commission on Equal Employment...

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