On June 11, 1963, George Wallace made his famous “segregation forever” speech while standing in the door to block the integration of the University of Alabama. (Wonder what Coach Saban would think of that idea?). After President Kennedy nationalized the Alabama National Guard, Wallace stepped aside.
Although that was certainly the iconic moment of the day, a much more important event occurred that evening when President Kennedy addressed the nation on the issue of civil rights. The NYT’s editorial today talks about its significance, Kennedy’s Civil Rights Triumph.
For the first time, the President framed civil rights as a “moral issue.” More importantly for the development of employment law, President Kennedy promised that his administration would be introducing and supporting a comprehensive civil rights bill that would cover among other things employment.
Earlier in Congress, a civil rights bill had been introduced but it was fairly toothless. What was contemplated and what ultimately was introduced was a much more significant act.