Truman & JFK

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Truman 1

  • Harry Truman
  • Became president after death of Roosevelt in 1945
  • Not a racist himself
  • Favoured a better deal for black Americans
  • Was aware of need to keep southern white supporters for votes
  • 'My God, I'd no idea it was as bad as that; we will have to do something' - Texas, 1946
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Truman 2

  • Set up the President's Committee on Civil Rights, 1946
  • He outlined the basic requirements of all Americans, black or white;
    • homes, education, jobs and the vote
  • Black people were not equal in any of these yet
  • He could not persuade Congress to pass any legislation 

Limited civil rights achievements by end of presidency in 1953.

However, in 1948 he issued an executive order to end discrimination in the US military.

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Truman 3

Improvements under his presidency:

  • Desegregation of schools
  • Desegragation of military
  • Desegregation of public places
  • FEPC - 20 states signed up to
  • White primary deemed unlawful
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JFK 1

  • Elected Congressman in 1945
  • Became a Senator in 1952
  • Elected President in 1961 - youngest ever president
  • Brother, Robert Kennedy who was US Attorney-General
  • Assassinated in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963
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JFK 2

  • Talked of a 'New Frontier'
  • Slow to take up civil rights cause
  • Became determined to introduce a Civil Rights Bill early in 1963 after seeing the troubles of the Freedom Rides and the protests in Birmingham
  • He proposed the bill in September and it passed through the Judiciary Committee
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JFK 3

  • Ready to go before congress in November
  • Assassinated in same month
  • Johnson took up bill and helped pass it
  • Provisions of act
    • Ban on exclusion from public places, restaurants/stores
    • Attorney-General could file law suits to speed up desegregation, mixed education and voting rights
    • FEPC set up on permanent legal basis
    • Racial, sexual and religious discrimination unlawful
    • No discrimination on any federally aided programmes
    • Community Relations Service set up to deal with remaining disputes
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