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Response to txdemsftw (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:50 AM

29. Jack Kennedy called Mrs. King. (Richard Nixon did not.)

JFK helped him change his mind. Just prior to the 1960, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy risked alienating the conservative Southern Democrats by talking to Coretta Scott King while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rotted in a "backwoods Georgia jail." The photo below was taken when Dr. King visited President Kennedy at the White House.

Robert Kennedy-His Life by Evan Thomas


(Robert) Kennedy seemed to fret about what to do as John Seigenthaler drove him to the airport early that afternoon. He was flying to New York for a campaign event. Maybe, he told Seigenthaler, he should take the heat off his brother and act as a "lightning rod" by calling the judge himself. Seigenthaler, whose phone had been ringing all morning with calls of angry southern politicians protesting JFK's call to Mrs. King, urged Bobby to stay out of it. Bobby wearily agreed.

The next day, a press aide told Seigenthaler that the wires were reporting that the judge had released King -- at the intervention of Robert Kennedy.

Can't be true, Seigenthaler said; Kennedy had assured him he wouldn't call the judge. But it was true. Seigenthaler called Kennedy, who sheepishly disclosed the call. He said that, on the plane to New York, he had got to thinking about the whole matter. It was "disgraceful...It just burned me up," Kennedy said. "It grilled me. The more I thought about the injustice of it, the more I thought what a son of a bitch the judge was." So Kennedy called the judge and gave him a lecture on the constitutional right to make bail, and the judge agreed to release King. Later, speaking with Wofford, Kennedy said he told the judge, "If he was a decent American, he would let King out by sundown. I called him because it made me so damn angry to think of that bastard sentencing a citizen to four months hard labor for a minor traffic offense."

The impact of JFK's call to Mrs. King and RFK's intervention with the judge was immense. Daddy King, Martin Luther King's father, an extremely influential Baptist preacher, openly shifted his endorsement from Nixon to Kennedy. The Kennedy campaign brilliantly exploited the symbolism of phone calls with a samizdat campaign in the black community. Careful not to tout the Kennedy-King connection in the popular mainstream press, lest southern voters take umbrage, the Kennedy campaign published hundreds of thousands of leaflets and handbills that were distributed at black churches and bars. On one side, a flyer read: "Jack Kennedy called Mrs. King" On the other side it said: "Richard Nixon did not." Many political analysts believe that this PR offensive decided the election. In a half-dozen states in the East and Midwest carried by Kennedy by very narrow margins on election day, black turnout made the difference. Richard Nixon's chauffeur understood. "Mr. Vice-President," he told his boss after the election, "you know I had been talking to my friends. They had been all for you. But when Mr. Robert Kennedy called the judge to get Dr. King out of jail -- well, they just all turned to him."


Excerpted from "Robert Kennedy: His Life” by Evan Thomas, pages 101-102.

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txdemsftw Oct 2012 OP
S_E_Fudd Oct 2012 #1
Tommy_Carcetti Oct 2012 #2
cherish44 Oct 2012 #3
txdemsftw Oct 2012 #5
patricia92243 Oct 2012 #8
WinkyDink Oct 2012 #14
bluestate10 Oct 2012 #47
lpbk2713 Oct 2012 #4
graham4anything Oct 2012 #6
libinnyandia Oct 2012 #19
graham4anything Oct 2012 #24
libinnyandia Oct 2012 #35
Enrique Oct 2012 #7
reformist2 Oct 2012 #9
deutsey Oct 2012 #10
MrScorpio Oct 2012 #11
Zen Democrat Oct 2012 #12
sadbear Oct 2012 #18
justiceischeap Oct 2012 #13
WinkyDink Oct 2012 #16
justiceischeap Oct 2012 #20
LeftinOH Oct 2012 #15
txdemsftw Oct 2012 #17
EC Oct 2012 #21
Risen Demon Oct 2012 #22
denverbill Oct 2012 #23
AspenRose Oct 2012 #27
AspenRose Oct 2012 #25
hiphopnation Oct 2012 #26
We People Oct 2012 #28
Risen Demon Oct 2012 #32
bluestate10 Oct 2012 #46
LineReply Jack Kennedy called Mrs. King. (Richard Nixon did not.)
Octafish Oct 2012 #29
Maeve Oct 2012 #30
nadinbrzezinski Oct 2012 #31
CheapShotArtist Oct 2012 #33
Iggo Oct 2012 #34
Jack Rabbit Oct 2012 #36
bluestate10 Oct 2012 #42
GeorgeGist Oct 2012 #37
madokie Oct 2012 #38
standingtall Oct 2012 #39
bluestate10 Oct 2012 #40
JI7 Oct 2012 #41
vaberella Oct 2012 #43
Marr Oct 2012 #44
-LOKI -BAD FOR YA Oct 2012 #49
Tierra_y_Libertad Oct 2012 #45
loyalsister Oct 2012 #48
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