1960 October 26

John F. Kennedy Calls Coretta Scott King About Husband’s Imprisonment in Georgia

 

Rev. Martin Luther King had been arrested and imprisoned in Georgia, and his wife and others were seriously worried that he might be lynched while in custody. Word of this reached John Kennedy’s presidential election campaign team, and they decided that Kennedy should call Coretta Scott King. Kennedy did, on this day, and expressed his sympathy about her husband’s situation. He did not promise to take any action, but his brother, Robert Kennedy called both the governor of Georgia and the judge in the case, and that was thought to have had some effect. King was promptly released the next day, on October 27, 1960.

Word about Kennedy’s call circulated widely in the African-American community. Some political commentators believed the publicity gained Kennedy enough African-American votes to give him victory in the November presidential election, but others dispute this interpretation.

Read Kennedy’s statement about the phone call: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=74226

Learn more about the phone call: Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963 (1988)

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