To the Editor:
In recent weeks the daily news has been unusually focused on American history. Last month alone alone we observed the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s murder and the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.
It is good that Americans are periodically reminded of our history, and it is especially important to younger Americans whose personal history seems so unaffected by those events. Those events are important today. Lincoln’s words still fill the heart with pride and bring tears to the eye. The Dallas footage still stops our breath short as that awful sinking feeling invades our stomach.
However, we would be doing the next generation a disservice to tell only the majority version of the story. Young Americans also should know that, in the American South, thousands of white Americans ran into the streets on Nov. 22, 1963, not to mourn, but to celebrate. They laughed and sang and gave thanks to their god for deliverance from the “liberal, socialist dictator” Kennedy.
Those same people celebrated with even greater joy five years later when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassin-ated.
Today’s young Americans should know that the con-servative press scoffed and mocked President Lincoln’s “little speech.” Their editorials described their embarrassment that their sophisticated Euro-pean friends would read the uneducated ramblings of the person they called a crude, ugly, inarticulate baboon.
Young Americans should ask themselves which of today’s politicians represent those kinds of people — and be assured that their biological and philo-sophical offspring are still very much with us today. Young American voters should know that President Johnson finished one of Kennedy’s projects less than a year after his death, signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That legislation ended nearly a century of Jim Crow segregation and caused the people who celebrated Ken-nedy’s and King’s deaths to immediately begin leaving Ken-nedy’s Party.
For whom do you suppose those people and their des-cendants vote today?