6/9/2017, 12:56 p.m.
The act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation in the nation’s history since the Reconstruction era, laid the foundation for future progressive legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
After the March on Washington, he met with Dr. King and told him, “I have a dream.” Despite his earlier, well-documented reticence to broadly involve his administration in the growing struggle for equality, President Kennedy personally engaged with the civil rights leaders of his time, hosting Mr. Young and National Urban League President Henry Steeger III at the White House in 1962.
On May 29, we marked the centenary of President Kennedy’s birth. Whatever history has assigned to him as flaws, shortcomings and misdeeds, he believed our country could do better for all of its citizens, regardless of race, color or creed.
As we reflect on his enduring legacy, let us recommit ourselves to ensuring that his evolution and eventual stand on civil rights are more than words on a page in a dusty book, but a call to continued action and activism undergirded by the principle that “all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
The writer is president and CEO of the National Urban League.