Negro Leader Doubtful About Sen. Kennedy

Charleston Daily Mail
January 25, 1960

The Negro minister who led the struggle to in[te]grate buses in Montgomery, Ala., thinks Sen. John Kennedy might not go over well with voters of his race.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said Sunday in Charleston that Kennedy's Catholic religion would not hurt him with Negroes, but that they could be put off by his seeming acceptability to Southern conservatives.

The Rev. Mr. King agreed this could be "the kiss of death" for Kennedy.

He thought that if the Democrats nominated Sen. Lyndon Johnson for the presidency, the "vast majority" of Negro voters would prefer Vice President Richard Nixon.

"Nixon has made a real impression on the Negro," the Rev. Mr. King said.

He gave his opinions at the end of a short stay in Charleston, during which he delivered a sermon at the First Baptist Church that was attended by Mayor John Shanklin, among others. His audience packed the balcony, the gymnasium and overflowed into the halls.

In his sermon, he said Americans are living in a momentous time "when an old order is dying and a new one is being born."

Mr. King asked those who have been segregated and denied equal social and economic opportunities to be forgiving and to love those who had oppressed them.

He said Negroes must compete as individuals, not as members of a race.

The challenges brought to the Negro by the Supreme Court order saying separate facilities must go were discussed by the Alabama minister.

One of these which he believes to be the most important, Mr. King said, is people of the world living together in a peace based on mutual respect. He asked his audience to do what it could to advance the cause of mutual self respect and understanding in whatever way they could.

Said Mr. King: "We must work unceasingly for first class citizenship, but we mustn't use second class means to get it."

The remarks on the presidential possibles were made during an interview after the sermon.

The Rev. Mr. King sees civil rights being a major factor both at the partys' national conventions and in the election itself. He said the Negro vote was not wedded to either party, but would go to whichever takes the most forthright stand on civil rights.

He predicted "a gradual crumbling of resistance during the decade just started to the Supreme Court decision. While there will not be complete integration, there will be some form of compliance in all southern states," he said.

The Rev. Mr. King soon will be leaving his pastorate at the Dexter Baptist Church at Montgomery to live at Atlanta and give more time to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which he is the president.

African Americans

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