The “March on Washington” Leaders Visit the White House
On this day in 1963, civil rights leaders speak to members of the press following a meeting with President John F. Kennedy regarding “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” that was held earlier that day.
Left to right: President of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), Reverend Eugene Carson Blake; unidentified (back to camera); President of the National Urban League, Whitney M. Young, Jr.; President of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC), A. Philip Randolph; unidentified man (in back); Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Roy Wilkins (speaking at microphones); President of United Auto Workers (UAW), Walter P. Reuther; President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; President of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Joachim Prinz; several unidentified reporters. White House, Washington, D.C. 8/28/63.
President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson meet with organizers of “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in the Oval Office. 8/28/63.
The Birth of the peacecorps
On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 to establish the Peace Corps. In 1966 Lillian Carter, the mother of future President Jimmy Carter, was drawn to volunteer. At age 68 she completed her training and spent 21 months in India. This is a letter Mrs. Carter sent describing her experience in India.
We’ve made it to Thursday! How about some summer baseball photos?
President John F. Kennedy throws out the first ball at the 32nd All-Star Baseball Game, on this day in 1962.
Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, Dave Powers, Vice President Johnson, President Kennedy, Commisioner of Baseball Ford. C. Frick, Lawrence O’Brien, others ( in foreground- Dennis Marcel, Frank Brown, members of the Washington Boys Club ). Washington, D.C., 7/10/1962.
-from the JFK Library
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Equal treatment of all Americans, regardless of race, was a major debate for decades in the U.S. Congress. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy urged Congress to take action. Passage of the act was not easy. We’ll be exploring some of the key moments for the Civil Rights Act throughout the day.
Shortly after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged them to pass Civil Rights legislation to honor Kennedy’s memory. He said,…no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long. We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. We have talked for one hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the books of law.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress, 11/27/1963, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Did JFK Really Tell Berlin He Was a Jelly Doughnut?
One of the iconic moments of John F. Kennedy’s Presidency comes from a speech he gave at the Rathaus Schöneberg in West Berlin, Germany on June 26, 1963. When the President declared “Ich bin ein Berliner!” to a cheering crowd, he preserved the German phrase in history. But the speech has been plagued by claims that, instead of expressing international unity by stating “I am a Berliner!” in German as he intended, JFK enthusiastically shouted a less inspiring phrase: “I am a jelly doughnut!”
Newspapers, magazines, and even textbooks have repeated the story for decades: a native Berliner would’ve said “Ich bin Berliner” and JFK’s use of the article ein changed the meaning, causing chuckles as the crowd imagined the jelly doughnut called a Berliner in parts of Germany. Fifty years later, a new generation may wonder: How could the President, who hand-wrote the pronunciation on his speech card to be sure he’d get it right, make such a cringe-worthy mistake?
But many historians and linguists have stepped in to poke a hole in the doughnut story and clear JFK’s name of this deep-fried controversy. Historian Andreas Daum notes, “saying ein Berliner is correct if used metaphorically,” which, of course, is what Kennedy was doing – not saying he was literally from Berlin, but that he was symbolically with Berlin. Historian Jürgen Eichhoff argues that the wording JFK used was actually the only way to express this particular meaning, and the German speakers (including West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt) who heard JFK practice the speech agreed.
Historians also point out that archival evidence (like recordings and witness interviews) debunks the idea that the German-speaking crowd found anything weird about JFK’s wording: “No one in the square,” Presidential advisor McGeorge Bundy later said, “confused JFK with a doughnut.”
On the anniversary of JFK’s Berlin speech, we can all rest easier knowing many experts agree President Kennedy did not declare himself a jelly doughnut at this pivotal moment in Cold War history!
A very, very big thanks to JFK Library archivist Stacey Chandler for this guest Tumblr post!
Images: President John F. Kennedy Speaks in Rudolph Wilde Platz; JFK’s handwritten pronunciation note from the President’s speech files; President Kennedy in motorcade with Willie Brandt, Mayor of West Berlin and Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany. 6/26/63.
President John F. Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act of 1963:
Today in history, President Kennedy signed the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which aimed to reduce income disparity between the sexes. 6/10/63.
Photo: President John F. Kennedy delivers remarks after signing the Equal Pay Act in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, D.C. Standing (L-R): Representative Elizabeth Kee (West Virginia); Representative Edith Green (Oregon); Representative Edna Kelly (New York); Representative Catherine May (Washington); Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Director of United Automobile Workers (UAW) Women’s Department, Caroline Davis; Senator Maurine Neuberger of Oregon (in back); President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC), Dr. Minnie Miles; Director of the Department of Legislation for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Andrew Biemiller (in back); Representative Leonor K. Sullivan (Missouri); Executive Director of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW), Margaret Mealey; Representative Martha W. Griffiths (Michigan); Representative Julia Butler Hansen (Washington); Secretary of Labor, Willard Wirtz.
-from the JFK Library
Did you know President Kennedy and Bob Hope share a birthday? Here are the duo together at the White House to honor Hope with the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of services to the country and the cause of world peace.
Happy Birthday President Kennedy and Bob Hope!
Happy (Almost) Birthday, Mr. President
Ten days before President John F. Kennedy’s 45th Birthday, he celebrated with a Democratic Party fundraiser for 15,000 people at Madison Square Garden. The event was hosted by President Kennedy’s brother in-law Peter Lawford and included many big name stars of the day. It was at this event where Marilyn Monroe famously and breathlessly sang Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
Happy Birthday, peacecorps!
Happy 53rd birthday to us! On this date in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order to officially establish the Peace Corps.
(Executive Order 10924 dated March 1, 1961, in which President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps., 03/01/1961)
This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. Take a look at this letter from Seeger to President Kennedy in March of 1961. Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. As a fellow Harvard classmate, Seeger was appealing to the President for help.
(From the White House Central Name File, Box 2513, JFK Library)
“WHEREAS a Governmental Commission should be charged with the responsibility for developing recommendations for overcoming discrimination in government and private employment on the basis of sex and for developing recommendations for services which will enable women to continue their role as wives and mothers while making a maximum contribution to the world around them…”
Executive Order 10980 dated December 14, 1961, in which President John F. Kennedy establishes the President’s Commission on the Status of Women., 12/16/1961
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women ran until October 1963 when it issued its final report. President Kennedy appointed former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as the first chair of the commission, serving until her death in 1962.
The Riderless Horse
On November 25, 1963, during President Kennedy’s funeral procession, a magnificent black gelding, with an empty saddle, saber, and boots reversed in the stirrups, followed the caisson bearing the President’s coffin. The riderless horse is one of the highest military honors bestowed upon the fallen. Black Jack, the horse used during JFK’s funeral procession, was from the Army’s oldest active infantry unit, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard. He alone defied the strict military discipline of the day with his rowdy behavior: prancing, throwing his head, and dancing around his walker.
After the funeral, Mrs. Kennedy, an avid horsewoman, expressed an interest in Black Jack. Within hours, the horse’s saddle and blanket, and the boots and saber were delivered to her at the White House.
-from the JFK Library