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President and Attorney General Meet with Alabama Newspaper Editors

May 14, 1963 - President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy suggested to Alabama editors today that failure of the “nonviolent” movement for Negro rights might open the door for Negro extremist groups such as the Black Muslims (pictured). Several of the visiting editors reported later that the President had expressed concern about Negro extremism. He emphasized, they said, that violence might easily follow the failure of moderate efforts, such as the nonviolent movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Kennedy said he would regard the use of troops as a “defeat” for efforts to solve civil rights problems peacefully. Troops, he said, would be used only when no other alternative was available to prevent a disaster. Robert Bryan, publisher of the Cullman County Times-Democrat, described Mr. Kennedy as “a very charming host.” “He’s a salesman, as evidenced by the fact that he won the election,” he added. “From a practical political standpoint, he made us more aware of his problems.” He said the President had told the group that the “people of the North felt that he was doing too little, and the people of the South felt he was doing too much” in the civil rights field. At a separate meeting, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy also stressed to the editors the importance of Dr. King’s nonviolent movement as a moderate alternative to extremist groups.


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