What role did Lyndon B. Johnson and the Kennedy intellectuals play in perpetuating the myth that credited John F. Kennedy with legislating more African American civil rights acts than his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson?

  • 2017

What role did Lyndon B. Johnson and the Kennedy intellectuals play in perpetuating the myth that credited John F. Kennedy with legislating more African American civil rights acts than his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson?

Author:
Anissa Jackson
Abstract:

My capstone encourages a historical shift in evaluations of Johnson’s presidency in terms of one of his more successful endeavors, securing more major civil rights legislation than any of his predecessors. This paper briefly examines the objectives of the modern African American Civil Rights Movement and the achievements of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in order to fairly assess the legislative efforts of both administrations. This essay then explores how the practice of attributing Johnson’s accomplishments in the field of civil rights to his predecessor originated.

The scope of this essay focuses solely on the African American struggle for equality, but many of Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights initiatives included women, Hispanics, the elderly, and the poor. Furthermore, whenever the capstone references the modern African American Civil Rights Movement, the emphasis is on the social crusade of the 1950s and 1960s. The sources used for this capstone will demonstrate the distinct differences in the working relationships John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson forged with such civil rights leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. Additionally, this capstone reveals how instrumental Senators Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirksen were to the passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Act of 1965. Finally, due to constraints on time and length, this paper will not address the Vietnam War’s influence as the conflict is not within the context of civil rights legislation.