John F. Kennedy photo

Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy on Civil Rights Section, Hyannis, MA

August 02, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy today announced the formation of a civil rights section for the 1960 campaign.

The announcement was made following an hour-long conference here Friday (July 29) between the Senator and Frank Reeves, a Washington attorney and Democratic National Committeeman for the District of Columbia. Mr. Reeves, who has been named an assistant to Senator Kennedy, will accompany him on his campaign trips.

The civil rights section, working on organization and research, will advise Senator Kennedy on civil rights matters and assist in the preparation of position papers and statements. The Senator stated that this will not be a minorities section working only on the Negro vote. Instead, Negroes will he integrated on a functional basis in all parts of the campaign. The section will he focused on the issue of civil rights - and working on all the problems involved in that field will be a representative group of people of all races and creeds from all sections of the country. This is a departure from previous practices.

Marjorie McKenzie Lawson, a longtime adviser to the Senator, will be a director of the civil rights section. Mrs. Lawson, a Washington attorney and nationally known leader, is general counsel of the National Council of Negro Women. Working with her will be Charles S. Brown, on leave as administrative assistant to Governor Williams of Michigan, and Herbert Tucker Jr., of Boston, assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, NAACP leader and friend of Senator Kennedy.

Also in this section will be John Feild, assistant to Senator Hart and former executive director of the Michigan FEPC, who will work on regional, State, and local activities; Louis Martin, vice president of the Defender Publications who will be a consultant on various parts of the operation; and Prof. Harris Wofford, an assistant to Senator Kennedy on leave from the Notre Dame Law School and formerly a member of the staff of the Civil Rights Commission and an editor of the Commission's 1959 report.

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., president of the Chicago Board of Education and brother-in-law of Senator Kennedy, will represent the Senator in the planning and carrying out of this program. Mr. Shriver is also president of the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago.

Congressman William L. Dawson, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will play an important role in all aspects of the campaign and the civil rights section will report to him regularly.

Working in close liaison with the section will he Arthur Chapin, Jr., who is vice chairman to Congressman Frank Thompson in the national registration drive, and Mrs. Christine Davis, staff director of the House Committee on Government Operations, who will be working with Vice Chairman Margaret Price on women's activities. Adam Yarmolinsky, Washington attorney, will act as consultant and coordinator of research on civil rights.

Frank Reeves will explain the operation of the civil rights section to State and local leaders on a cross-country trip this week. He will accompany Robert Kennedy, campaign director; Lawrence O'Brien, executive director for organization in the Democratic National Committee; Congressman Frank Thompson, chief of the registration drive; Byron White, chairman of the Citizens for Kennedy organization, and Mrs. Margaret Price, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The group left Washington Tuesday on the first leg of the tour.

John F. Kennedy, Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy on Civil Rights Section, Hyannis, MA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives