Interview with Harris Wofford
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

NO? OK, WELL WHY DON'T YOU FILL ME IN ON WHAT THE TRUE PICTURE WAS THEN.

Harris Wofford:

You… you had in the 1960 campaign, years of Presidential inaction on civil rights. Ah, for Eisenhower it was ah, an embarrassing subject that he gave no moral leadership ah, to. When… when the Supreme Court decision was handed down, the historic decision on school desegregation, Eisenhower said he ah, wasn't going to tell anyone whether he thought it was a right decision or a wrong decision. At the moment when he should have given a… a… a turn to public opinion and helped mold it in favor of the Supreme Court decision, he said, ah, I haven't even told my wife what I think about that decision. And so John Kennedy came on the scene and the democratic party in 1960, ah, with that background of… of failure to give moral leadership. And the democratic party adopted the most far-reaching platform, ah, in American history on civil rights, ah, that was very specific as to comprehensive legislation across the board. The executive order against discrimination and housing. All out enforcement of the right to vote. Um, it was… it was a maximum platform. Um, in fact nobody thought it would get througb and nobody expected John and Robert Kennedy to support it fully at the convention. But the made the decision to do that and that's of course part of the high expectations that got aroused and some of which didn't get fulfilled fast enough for many people. And ah, it… it caused some problems. It created a… a tension that I think in fact was good, because it got… it… it forced us to move. But that basic commitment was made in the democratic platform. And Kennedy spoke about it a number of times in major speeches.