Kennedy asks Alabama governor George Wallace to respect the law and desegregate the state's schools.
Report on Desegregation in the Schools of Alabama
September 9, 1963
It should be clear that United States Government action regarding the Alabama schools will come only if Governor Wallace compels it.
In 144 school districts in 11 Southern and border States, desegregation was carried out for the first time this month in an orderly and peaceful manner. Parents, students, citizens, school officials, and public officials of these areas met their responsibilities in a dignified, law-abiding way. It wasn't necessary for the Federal Government to become involved in any of those States.
In the State of Alabama, however, where local authorities repeatedly stated they were prepared to carry out court directives and maintain public peace, Governor Wallace has refused to respect either the law or the authority of local officials. For his own personal and political reasons -- he is desperately anxious to have the Federal Government so that he may later charge Federal interference--he is desperately anxious to have the Federal Government intervene in a situation in which we have no desire to intervene.
The Governor knows that the United States Government is obligated to carry out the orders of the United States court. He knows that the great majority of the citizens in Birmingham, Mobile, Tuskegee, and Huntsville were willing to face this difficult transition with the same courage and respect for the law as did the communities in neighboring States. And he knows that there was and is no reason or necessity for intervention by the Federal Government, unless he wishes and forces that result.
This Government will do whatever must be done to see that the orders of the court are implemented -- but I am hopeful that Governor Wallace will enable the local officials and communities to meet their responsibilities in this regard, as they are willing to do.
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it Reagan? Kennedy? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United States through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?