February 9, 2012
JACK KENNEDY, ELUSIVE HERO: CHARISMA IV
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 concludes our report on Chapter 12 of Chris Matthews’ new book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, published by Simon & Schuster.
The title of Chapter 12 is CHARISMA.
Chris writes that on October 19, 1960, a group of African-Americans asked to be served at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Georgia.
Picket Line Outside Rich’s
They were not only denied service, they were arrested.
One of these African-Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr., was sentenced to serve 6 months hard labor. King’s wife, Coretta, was rightly concerned about his safety.
JFK’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, intervened on behalf of Mrs. King & suggested that Jack give her a telephone call.
Senator Kennedy said to Mrs. King: “If there is anything I can do to help, please feel free to call me.”
Soon, Bobby Kennedy called the governor of Georgia who, in turn, called the judge in the case who then ordered King’s release.
Dr. King’s father, who had planned to vote for Nixon, told his flock at Ebenezer Baptist Church that “now (Kennedy) can be my president. He had a moral courage to stand up for what he knows is right.”
John White at Ebenezer Baptist Church
Photo by Jennifer White (2008)
2 million copies of a pamphlet titled “The Case of Martin Luther King” were distributed & Chris says “overnight” African-Americans abandoned the party of Lincoln & would vote for Jack.
But despite the “wild crowds” Jack was drawing during the campaign, there was concern back at KENNEDY HQ about the anti-Catholic vote.
There was reason for that concern.
Despite an early lead on Election night, November 8, NIXON began taking the Midwest, state by state.
Still having a slight lead in the early morning hours, Jack went to bed.
Chris writes, “When he awoke, he was the next President.”*
Chris concludes this chapter by writing that Jack had a favorite Lincoln quote which he carried with him:
“I know there is a God….I see the storm coming & I know His hand is in it. But if He has a place & a part for me, I believe that I am ready.”
*While the Electoral vote was 303-219 for JFK, Jack won the popular vote by less than 1/10th of 1% or about 1 vote per precinct.
Kennedy won NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, ILLINOIS, TEXAS & MICHIGAN, while Nixon won CALIFORNIA & OHIO.
The only states West of the Mississippi the KENNEDY-JOHNSON ticket carried, in addition to Texas, were New Mexico, Nevada & Hawaii.