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President Kennedy Sees Possible Settlement in Birmingham

May 8, 1963 - President Kennedy said today that business leaders in Birmingham, Ala., had pledged “substantial steps” to begin to meet “the justifiable needs of the Negro community.” The President said at his news conference he hoped the immediate controversy over Negro rights in the Alabama steel-making center would be peacefully settled within 24 hours. In addition to the pledge by business leaders, the President cited the temporary suspension of demonstrations by Negro leaders and the desire indicated by Albert Boutwell, newly elected Mayor of Birmingham, to resolve the city’s racial problems. “While much remains to be settled before the situation can be termed satisfactory,” the President said, “we can hope that tensions will ease and that this case history, which has so far only narrowly avoided widespread violence and fatalities, will remind every state, every community, and every citizen how urgent it is that all bars to equal opportunity and treatment be removed as promptly as possible.” Burke Marshall, assistant attorney general in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, has been in Birmingham working for a settlement almost around the clock. He has been in frequent touch with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who has kept his brother, the President, informed.


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