Assess the effectiveness of the federal government during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations in enforcing desegregation laws throughout the South. Discuss one event during each of the administrations.
The Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations played very crucial role in enforcing desegregation laws throughout the South. In beginning Eisenhower was not in favor of giving more rights to blacks but due to Supreme Court ruling, he felt that he had a constitutional responsibility to uphold Supreme Court rulings. He did so in 1957, when mobs do not permitted the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In order to take political advantage Governor Orval Faubus order the National Guard to block the entry of the first African American students to Central High. On this occasion, President Eisenhower intervened and orders the Governor Orval Faubus to withdraw the National Guard. Addition to this Eisenhower sent federal troops to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas to protect the black students from the attacks of mob. Troops stayed for the entire school year, and in the spring of 1958, Central High had its first African American graduate. Eisenhower was the first president who signed the civil rights legislation since the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The law provided new federal protection for voting rights. Prior to the passage of bill the people of southern states were need to undergo various huddles like literacy tests, poll taxes despite having constitutional right to vote. President Eisenhower also used his constitutional powers, where he thought that they were clear and specific, to advance desegregation, for example, in federal facilities in the nation’s capital.
Like Eisenhower, President Kennedy also tried to provide equal rights to blacks. In 1963, the President John F. Kennedy issued presidential proclamation 3542 to governor of Alabama. In this proclamation, the President Kennedy ordered the governor of Alabama to allow two African-American students to register for the summer session at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Since Kennedy was a catholic, so he considered the practice of racial segregation morally wrong. When Wallace, governor of Alabama declined to accept the orders of Supreme Court and president, he sent his brother, Attorney General R.F.Kennedy to negotiate with Alabama governor. But the talks failed. On May 21 and again on June 5, the U.S. district court ordered Wallace to allow the students to register on June 11. But again Wallace refused to obey the court orders. Some leaders advise the president top arrest the Wallace but president rejected their advice and decided to wait for Wallace to make the first move. On 11th June, when the students were expected to register, Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama campus auditorium flanked by Alabama state troopers in order to stop the black students to enter the campus of university. When Wallace refused to let the students enter for registration, Katzenbach phoned Kennedy. Kennedy upped the pressure on Wallace, immediately issuing Presidential Proclamation 3542, which ordered the governor to comply, and authorizing the secretary of defense to call up the Alabama National Guard with Executive Order 11111. That afternoon, Katzenbach returned with the students and asked Wallace to step aside. Three days later, a third black student registered at the University of Alabama campus in Huntsville without interference.
Lyndon Baines Johnson has been credited with being one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement. There were few leaders who were not happy with Johnson policies. Johnson wanted to make America as “Great Society”. It was the Johnson who 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. After becoming the president of USA, Lyndon Baines Johnson announced his vision of a “Great Society” for America. The main objective of the president was to end the poverty and racial injustice. According to president, racial discrimination is a big obstacle of economic growth. He also signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. This act helped the black students to get quality education in schools. The poorer states like Mississippi benefited greatly from the federal funding and by the end of the 1960’s the percentage of African Americans obtaining a high school diploma rose from 40% to 60%