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🚨JFK Sends Civil Rights Message to Congress, Calls for Action

June 19, 1963 - President Kennedy called on Congress today to enact extensive civil rights legislation he said would “go far toward providing reasonable men with reasonable means” for dealing with the national crisis in race relations. The President proposed that Congress remain in session this year until his omnibus bill was passed. “The time has come,” Mr. Kennedy said in a somberly worded 5,500-word message, “for the Congress of the U.S. to join with the executive and judicial branches in making it clear to all that race has no place in American life or law.” Mr. Kennedy’s program asked:

1. A legal guarantee to all citizens of equal access to the services and facilities of hotels, restaurants, places of amusement, and retail establishments in interstate commerce.

2. Legislation authorizing the Attorney General to start school desegregation lawsuits when he is requested to do so by someone unable to sue.

3. Broad Federal action to halt discrimination in Federal jobs and activities financed wholly or in part with Federal funds.

4. Creation of a Community Relations Service to act as a mediation agency in communities with racial tensions.

5. Passage of a provision “making it clear that the Federal Government is not required, under any statute, to furnish any kind of financial assistance to any program or activity in which racial discrimination occurs.”


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