New Site Marks 50th Anniversary of Kennedy Legacy on Civil Rights

1963 Civil Rights Narrative Told Through Primary Source Material from JFK Library Archives -

BOSTON – In an address to the nation on June 11, 1963, President Kennedy called the struggle for civil rights “a moral issue…as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.” Fifty years later, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is marking the 50th anniversary of this landmark speech with the launch of a new microsite, “1963-The Struggle for Civil Rights,” presenting the 1963 civil rights narrative through primary source materials drawn principally from the Kennedy Library archives.

[To go directly to the microsite, visit:]

The summer of 1963 was a crucial time in the Kennedy administration and the nation in the struggle for civil rights. President Kennedy became the first American president to propose sweeping civil rights legislation, which was submitted to the Congress as “imperative.” President Kennedy called congressional leaders to the White House in late October 1963 to line up the necessary votes in the House for passage. However, Congress failed to pass the legislation before Kennedy’s death, and it remained the unfinished business of his presidency.

“1963-The Struggle for Civil Rights” makes accessible the most important material housed at the JFK Library on the topic of civil rights, bringing history to life and engaging students of all ages in learning about this critical chapter in our nation’s past. As a virtual, exploratory learning environment, the site weaves together audio recordings, videos, photographs, handwritten letters, and personal correspondence to tell the story of key civil rights milestones that took place during the final year of the Kennedy Presidency. Hundreds of assets, most of which have never before been publicly displayed, are organized into seven events, including the integration of the University of Alabama; President Kennedy’s televised address on civil rights; the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; the Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church; and the 1963 civil rights Legislation.

Each “event” begins with a synopsis of its story and context within the greater Civil Rights Movement in order to provide visitors with a base level of knowledge. Visitors are then free to explore the assets through a scrolling mosaic of images, textual documents, audio clips, and video clips. In addition to the site itself, there are targeted lessons for students and teachers on separate “For Students” and “For Educators” pages that provide a more in-depth version of the story and deliver a structured way to navigate through the assets.

"1963-The Struggle for Civil Rights" is made possible with funding from the Bingham McCutchen JFK50 Justice for All program. The site is found at

The Kennedy Presidential Library’s archives currently include more than 8.4 million pages of the personal, congressional and presidential papers of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and more than 40 million pages of over 300 other individuals who were associated with the Kennedy Administration or mid-20th Century American history. In addition, the archives hold more than 400,000 still photographs; 9,000 hours of audio recordings; 7.5 million feet of motion picture film; and 1,200 hours of video recordings.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and is supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

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