The Bystander : John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality

Author(s): Nick Bryant


In the summer of 1963, in the wake of the Birmingham riots and hundreds of other protests across the country, John F. Kennedy advanced the most far-reaching civil rights bill ever put before Congress. Why had he waited so long? Kennedy had been acutely aware of the issue of race -- both its political perils and opportunities -- since his first Congressional campaign in Boston in 1946. In this, the first comprehensive history of Kennedy's civil rights record over the course of his entire political career, Nick Bryant shows that Kennedy's shrewd handling of the race issue in his early congressional campaigns blinded him as President to the intractability of the simmering racial crisis in America. By focusing on purely symbolic gestures, Kennedy missed crucial opportunities to confront the obstructionist Southern bloc and to enact genuine reform. Kennedy's inertia emboldened white supremacists, and forced discouraged black activists to adopt increasingly militant tactics. At the outset of his presidency, Kennedy squandered the chance to forge a national consensus on race. For many of his thousand days in office, he remained a bystander as the civil rights battle flared in the streets of America. In the final months of his life, Kennedy could no longer control the rage he had fueled with his erratic handling of this explosive issue.

Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780465008278
  • : Basic Books
  • : Perseus Books Group
  • : 1.6
  • : September 2007
  • : 1.00000mm X 5.50000mm X 9.00000mm
  • : February 2007
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Nick Bryant
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 973.922092
  • : 2005035495
  • : 576