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President Kennedy Comments on Civil Rights Demonstrations

Aug. 1, 1963 - President Kennedy welcomed today an apparent slackening in Negro demonstrations in some areas. However, he warned that the quieter times must be used to redress civil rights grievances. Some recent demonstrations, Mr. Kennedy told his news conference, appeared to be “self-defeating” and “fringe actions.” Asked about signs that the civil rights issue was affecting his popularity, the President said he would continue to push his program, although it might damage his prospects for re-election in 1964. He predicted that the Republican party would take a similar stand. In discussing racial demonstrations, Mr. Kennedy said there was a realization among Negro leaders that gaining recognition for their civil rights would be “a long, drawn-out task.” They know, he said, that “a quick demonstration in the streets is not the immediate answer.” He added that he thought it “may be a good thing if demonstrations, particularly in their extreme form, are subsiding.” That does not mean, the President warned, that he and other leaders can “go to sleep and forget the problem.”

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