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Tape Reveals JFK's Civil Rights Outrage

On the same week as the nation remembers slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is making available for research a tape recording of a 30-minute White House meeting during which President Kennedy comments on the nation’s civil rights struggle.

During a meeting of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) to discuss the administration’s legislative agenda on May 4, 1963, Kennedy is audibly frustrated by the situation brewing in Birmingham, Ala.

The discussion is sparked by an Associated Press photo, published in the morning papers, showing a black citizen of Birmingham being attacked by a police dog.

Kennedy describes the civil rights situation as "intolerable." Reporter Allison Keyes speaks with Maura Porter, who runs the "declassification unit" at the library and museum, about the 30-minute-long tape.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Allison Keyes
Allison Keyes is an award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience in print, radio, and television. She has been reporting for NPR's national desk since October 2005. Her reports can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday.
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