Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy – Meet The Press – June 23, 1963 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
When President Kennedy appointed his brother Robert to the position of Attorney General, it was not only a controversial move, it was during one of the most contentious and violent periods in our nation’s history up to that point. The Civil Rights movement was at the forefront of the change sweeping America at the time. On the one hand you had charges of Nepotism and the appointment of a seemingly unqualified individual to a weighty position of responsibility, but you also had an Attorney General stepping into a virtual hornets nest of violence and confrontation; a situation capable of tearing the fragile fabric of Democracy to pieces.
Foremost, you had the School Desegregation issue, which was ground zero for a showdown between Alabama Governor George Wallace and the Federal Government in an effort to enforce a law that had been in place since the Eisenhower administration of the 1950s. You also had the Civil Rights movement, which was target for repeated acts of intimidation and violence by Whites opposed to the idea of integration in cities and neighborhoods throughout the South and those non-violent protestors who sought to implement that change. There had already been mass arrests of Civil Rights workers and the violent breakup of rallies and demonstrations – the bombings of predominantly Black Churches by the KKK, the killings of Civil Rights workers, some random and some targeted – the terror tactics employed by racist groups intent on stifling voting in Black neighborhoods.
Robert Kennedy was handed no easy tasks to perform – but did not shirk responsibility. On this episode of the NBC program Meet The Press, Kennedy talks about the then-current climate in the South, the large scale efforts to enforce Federal law and to bring those individuals and groups to justice in order to ensure the violence and intimidation came to a halt.
Here is that program.
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