Revisionist History and would you trade…

I watched a program this week on Atlanta Public Television about the struggle for civil rights.  It was a story well told.   The documentary focused on Atlanta.   One of the student leaders of the 1960s, Lonnie King, told the interviewer that several African-Americans today are revising history.  King says that many now claim they were part of the “movement” when in fact they opposed it or remained neutral.  The program also dealt  with an oft-told story about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  DeKalb County Judge Oscar Mitchell had ordered King to jail on relatively minor traffic charges.   The PBS story says Robert Kennedy called Judge Mitchell and it resulted in King’s release.  However, the late Governor Ernest Vandiver says Kennedy called him.  Vandiver told me he prevailed on Judge Mitchell to free Dr. King.   Maybe it happened both ways.  Perhaps Kennedy called the Judge and couldn’t get him to budge.  So the soon-to-be Attorney General called Governor Vandiver who persuaded the Judge to let King go.  In any case, JFK became President by out polling Nixon, but it was by less than one percent of the popular vote,  Historians generally agree the black voters put Robert’s brother over the top.   I wonder if JFK had known what was going to happen three years later might he have wished that his brother had never intervened in behalf of Dr. King.   On the other hand,   If  JFK could have made the trade would he have agreed to a shortened life in exchange for three years as President of the USA?  Would you?

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