Toward a black God : Robert F. Kennedy and Civil Rights in the United States, 1960-1968
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On June 6, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then numerous works have been written on his life and career, some scholarly, others more like works of fiction. Most of these works were written by Kennedy's friends or members of his staff and portray a romanticised version of RFK. More recent works have tended to focus upon his feud with President Johnson, and his struggle to find a place for himself within the Democratic party, or upon his policies on the Vietnam conflict and his decision to run for the presidency in 1968. None, however, have focused in any depth upon Kennedy's involvement with the civil rights movement throughout the 1960s. This thesis provides the first detailed account of his actions in that area, starting in 1960 with his management of John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, and running through his years as Attorney General and then Senator for New York. Within a decade RFK went from being an unknown quantity to black voters, with little relevance to their daily lives, to being the only white politician who they trusted to continue the process of change that had started with the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956. Kennedy's knowledge of civil rights was limited when he took office as Attorney General in his brother's administration. This thesis charts the growth in his understanding of the issues, as well as his growth as a politician.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosopy
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