Since white supremacists swarmed into Charlottesville this month, leaving three dead in their wake, President Trump has repeatedly resisted calls to assume the moral leadership Americans expect from the White House. And he has been condemned for it by politicians across the spectrum, religious leaders of all denominations and corporate executives across the country.
More than 50 years ago, white supremacists tested the moral mettle of another president. No sooner had John F. Kennedy entered office than he confronted what Martin Luther King Jr. called “America’s chief moral dilemma”: the raging bigotry, hatred, and segregation of the South.
For far too long, Kennedy was slow to respond, angering blacks and other Americans sympathetic to the civil rights movement. Kennedy felt politically hemmed in by powerful Southern senators eager to block his wider domestic agenda. In response, he addressed the waves of vicious attacks against African Americans as a law-and-order issue rather than a moral reckoning.
Only gradually did Kennedy listen to the pleas of King on behalf of 20 million black Americans. Over two and a half years, thanks in large part to the prodding of King, Kennedy gained an education in empathy, conscience, tolerance and moral courage. And finally, on June 11, 1963, he stopped dithering, stopped looking the other way.
§.•´¨'°÷•..× A Call to Action ×,.•´¨'°÷•..§
The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992