John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy has been perhaps the most well known supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. By Kennedy’s presidency, racial segregation in schools had already been decided as being unconstitutional. But before JFK was even elected president, he was already contributing to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1960, when Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, John F. Kennedy called MLK’s wife to express his concern. JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy, even phoned the judge to ensure MLK’s safe release. After his election, John F. Kennedy appointed African Americans to high-level positions in his administration. Not only that, but JFK also spoke out against segregation in schools, encouraged desegregated cities, and even ended segregation in the University of Mississippi. After James H. Meredith Jr., an African American Air Force veteran, was denied admission to the University of Mississippi, JFK sent Meredith with the National Guard to the campus. Meredith registered the next day and attended his first class. A similar incident occurred a year later in 1963, where President Kennedy had to send in the Alabama National Guard to escort to African American children into the University of Alabama. Later that year in November, the comprehensive civil rights bill cleared Congress and was about to be passed. It was not passed, however, because of the assassination of President Kennedy and instead fell into the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson. Before his assassination, President Kennedy had addressed the nation on June 11 about the civil rights movement being constitutional and legal. He also announced civil rights legislation would be submitted to Congress, which led to the comprehensive civil rights bill.