Executive Inaction: John F. Kennedy and the Civil Rights Crisis
John F. Kennedy maintains a reputation in American memory with respect to civil rights that he does not deserve. He campaigned for presidency advocating the end of racial discrimination, but once he took office his interests shifted towards the nation's foreign policy as the Cold War ever threatened to heat up. However, after Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson re-framed his predecessor's priorities to push for the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1965 as though they were Kennedy's prime concern. Thus, Johnson made Kennedy a martyr for the cause, regardless of his predecessor's agenda. This essay explores Kennedy's actions and inactions before and during his presidency regarding desegregation in order to explain the dissonance between his life and his reputation.