How committed was Kennedy to civil rights?
John F. Kennedy inherited the situation that the sit ins had created and almost immediately faced the issue of the Freedom Rides. His election had produced a wave of political excitement and anticipation. The comparatively youthful Kenedy produced a new wave of interest in the political process on university campuses.
Martin Luther King was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, for sitting-in at Rich's department store; he was then handed over to officials in the nearby Georgia county of De Kalb. He was alread on a years probation here and had broken its conditions by taking part in a sit-in. As a result, he was sentenced to four months' hard labour in jail. John Kennedy phoned King's wife and promised he would do what he could to help get King released. His brother, Robert Kennedy, meanwhile phoned the judge in the case to complain. King was released the next day. Some southern black republicans such as MLK senior were, as strong Protestants, suspicious of the Roman Catholic Kennedy on religious ground.
However, Kennedy's attitude to civil rights was complex. On the one hand, he had personally had no objection to black…