The Record - March 1998

JFK Library to Commemorate 1963 Struggle for Civil Rights

Symposium: Facing a Moral Crisis-The Struggle for Civil Rights in 1963

The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum will hold a major symposium commemorating the dramatic events surrounding the struggle for civil rights in 1963. Members of President Kennedy's administration and key individuals who participated in such historic events as the demonstrations in Birmingham, the integration of the University of Alabama, the drafting of the Civil Rights Act, and the March on Washington will gather at the Kennedy Library on April 29 to commemorate the 35th anniversary of that landmark year.

The Kennedy Library symposium, Facing a Moral Crisis—The Struggle for Civil Rights in 1963, will feature panel discussions among many of the men and women who played courageous and creative roles in the massive historical changes that took place in America in 1963. Among those who will be participating in the Kennedy Library symposium are James Farmer, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Burke Marshall, Theodore Sorensen, Nicholas Katzenbach, Tony Lewis, Jack Greenberg, Vivian Malone Jones, Julian Bond, and John Lewis.

"The Kennedy Library is very proud of the programming it has planned to commemorate the historic events of 1963 when the United States confronted the greatest moral crisis of the time—the continued denial of fundamental civil rights to Black Americans," said Caroline Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation. "It is our hope that by celebrating the leadership and vision of the men and women who helped change the direction of the nation in such a turbulent time, we might inspire a new generation of Americans seeking to make a difference in today's world."

New Museum Exhibits Featuring the Civil Rights Movement

The Kennedy Library's commemoration of the struggle for civil rights will also include a special Museum display of documents from the Library's archives chronicling the leadership role of Black civil rights leaders in 1963 and a special exhibit demonstrating the use of diplomatic occasions by President and Mrs. Kennedy to promote and spotlight the African Independence Movement. The Museum's current exhibit on Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy will also be expanded this spring to represent the leadership role played by the President's brother in mobilizing the forces of the Justice Department to assist the civil rights movement.

Other Educational Programming Celebrating the Civil Rights Movement

The Library's American History Project for High School Students will hold workshops to introduce high school students to the techniques of historical research, using archival material from 1963 and the civil rights movement to analyze the massive historical changes that took place as the nation confronted racial segregation and discrimination. The Library's Senior Seminars will invite senior citizens to review their collective memories of the events of 35 years ago and to analyze what has happened since 1963 to make ours a more cohesive, productive society; and the Summer Institute, an intensive two-week program for teachers sponsored by the Kennedy Library and University of Massachusetts, Boston, will be devoted to examining the impact of the events of 1963 on American culture, politics, and society.