History 65

Kennedy and Civil Rights

February 9, 2006


I. The 1950s Senate


1. The Demise of the Revisionists (Bricker amendment controversy; Army-McCarthy hearings; McCarran death)


            2. Lyndon Johnson’s Senate (committee assignments, campaign contributions, Baker, scheduling, unanimous consent agreements)


3. The Civil Rights Acts (Title III and public accommodations; LBJ, Church, and jury-trial amendment)


II. After 1958


1. 1958 Elections and the Changing Face of Congress (six-year itch and Eisenhower weaknesses; House changes and challenge to Rules Committee order; new caucus in Senate—Democratic pickups, ideological composition of new members, roles of Alaska and Hawaii; effect on LBJ)


            2. Foreign Policy (effects of LRO and “subcommittee government”; LBJ and space subcommittee; Symington and Air Force; Jackson and challenge to NSC; Humphrey and disarmament; Morse and Latin America)


III. The Expansion of Rights


            1. The Transition (Court action and its limits; executive initiative; Kennedy record and political concerns—“stroke of a pen”; significance of bureaucracy—Wofford, Marshall, power of Justice Department; forcing the issue—Freedom Rides and role of federal marshals; Meredith and integration of Ole Miss, NAACP and Civil Rights Division support)


2. After Ole Miss (riots and federal military intervention; Wallace and demagoguery; political costs; Birmingham and Operation “C”; role of Bull Connor; sit-ins and boycott; use of children; public and media response)


3. The Bill (obstacles in Congress: House—Rules Committee and Judge Smith; Senate—Eastland elevation and tradition of filibuster; focus on public accommodations; indecision about tactics; indecision about constitutional justification; provisions—outlaw racial discrimination in public accommodations, give Justice Dept. authority to file suits for school desegregation in federal court, create EEOC; continued legislative obstacles; Kennedy legacy?)