We talk so much about what happened 150 years ago that we sometimes forget what happened 50 years ago.
One can say that it took John F. Kennedy some time to reach this point, and they would be right. The author of Profiles in Courage had praised three senators (Daniel Webster, Edmund Ross, and L. Q. C. Lamar) for their actions in instances where compromise, reconciliation, and obstruction concerning the issues of race and slavery were seen as statesmanlike. By 1963 he had learned much.
Why the need for the speech?
Listen to Kennedy’s speech carefully, because there’s a great deal to be learned if you do. But you would learn even more if you also read this.
I’m not that much of a fan of John F. Kennedy. But I am a fan of this speech … and that letter.