Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions
Before beginning the activity, you might have students read two items on the same general topic from a recent newspaper -- a news story and a commentary -- and then discuss the differences between the two.
For example, one group might argue that Kennedy would have withdrawn American troops from Vietnam sooner and with fewer casualties than President Nixon did, while the other group might contend that Kennedy would not have been able to do so without causing South Vietnam╣s immediate collapse.
The group arguing in favor of a civil rights agenda might want to include information from the interactive maps at the PBS Web site The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, which lists the discriminatory "Jim Crow" laws in many states. The group warning of the political dangers of a civil rights agenda might want to create an electoral map of the 1960 presidential election, showing Kennedy's reliance on southern electoral votes in winning the White House, as well as a map or other graphic showing how many Democrats in Congress represented southern states.
For valuable background on the evolution of the nomination process -- including changes sparked by the 1968 campaign -- students should read the essay at the U.S. Department of State's Web site.
After students have completed their presentations, ask the class whether they think the Vietnam War changed Kennedy's views on communism (and if so, how).
For extra credit, students could do their own research to find other events not discussed in the timeline that would be suitable to include in the map.
Interviewers should press Kennedy to explain why he treated union leaders so differently in these two cases -- is this evidence that his views on unions have changed over the years?
Students might want to visit the Web site of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, which Kennedy helped establish, to find out about its activities.