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Across the nation, more than 70 percent of African Americans voted for Kennedy, and these votes provided the winning edge in several key states.
They pursued their goals through legal means, negotiations, petitions, and nonviolent protest demonstrations.
The civil rights movement centered around the American South, where the African American population was concentrated and where racial inequality in education, economic opportunity, and the political and legal processes was most blatant.
Instead, he appointed unprecedented numbers of African Americans to high-level positions in the administration and strengthened the Civil Rights Commission.
He spoke out in favor of school desegregation, praised a number of cities for integrating their schools, and put Vice President Lyndon Johnson in charge of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
Eisenhower enforced the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.
But, even after Little Rock, school integration was painfully slow, and segregation in general remained largely untouched.The Election of 1960: By the 1960 presidential campaign, civil rights had emerged as a crucial issue.Just a few weeks before the election, Martin Luther King, Jr., was arrested while leading a protest in Atlanta, Georgia.John Kennedy phoned Coretta Scott King to express his concern while a call from Robert Kennedy to the judge helped secure her husband’s safe release.The Kennedys’ personal intervention led to a public endorsement by Martin Luther King, Sr., the influential father of the civil rights leader.In the North, black Americans also faced discrimination in housing, employment, education, and many other areas. This landmark decision outlawed racial segregation in public schools.But the civil rights movement had made important progress, and change was on the way. Whites around the country condemned the decision, and in the South such white supremacist groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the Citizens’ Council organized to resist desegregation, sometimes resorting to violence.In May 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), led by James Farmer, organized integrated Freedom Rides to defy segregation in interstate transportation.Freedom riders were arrested in North Carolina and beaten in South Carolina.Martin Luther King, Jr., led a boycott that ended segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama.In 1957, National Guard troops under orders from President Dwight D.