At the Height of his Powers
Nov. 30, 1963
On Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m. CST President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. While at the time of this edition, uncertainty continued to surround whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, the rapid fire of events immediately following the Kennedy assassination is nevertheless evident on this Nov. 30th 1963 AFRO front page by the article on the lower right which describes how Oswald was, in turn, shortly thereafter killed. The killing of the 35th president of the United States of America traumatized the nation, particularly African-Americans who saw Kennedy as an important advocate for civil rights. The AFRO editorial below was printed as the nation, in a state of shock, slowly began to come to grips with the arduous acceptance of the loss of its much loved young leader.
At the death of President John F. Kennedy, we have lost the youngest President, the finest friend of the poor, the humble, and the disadvantaged this generation has known. The shocking and grievous thing is that a president of the mightiest country in the world could travel safely in many countries in Europe and South America and then come home to be murdered by his own people. He was a martyr in the cause of human rights — civil, political and social equality of colored people. His fate was the same as that other great President, advocate of freedom and emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, assassinated at the height of his powers and before the fulfillment of his dreams.
We have seen the length to which certain elements of the South will go to defy the courts, the President and the will of the people in order to maintain segregation in public institutions and to deprive colored citizens of the right to register and to vote.
None of us, certainly President Kennedy himself, suspected these mad-men would murder a President in an attempt to halt the nation-wide and revolutionary movement to secure equal rights for the nation’s minorities. Yet, there is little difference between the slayers of 14-year old Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, the NAACP executive, the Rev. George Lee, all in Mississippi.
But there is also blood on the hands of legislators and governors in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas who used their public office to encourage mob violence.
The President, though a wealthy man himself, had not forgotten the 100 year struggle of his own Irish and Catholic minority group to gain dignity and citizenship in this country.
Youthful, exuberant, of apparent boundless strength and energy, kind, perceptive, quick to grasp and memorize a whole page of a document at a glance, he was at ease when he invited colored friends to luncheon at his Georgetown home or to formal dinners at the White House.
He did not speak out of both sides of his mouth on civil rights.
The pledges he gave were those he advocated in public and in private, with passion and with firmness. He will go down in our history as a great, a strong, a wise, and beloved leader who sacrificed his life on the altar of human rights.