{{show_title_date || "Matthews: Happy birthday Kennedy, our elusive hero, 5/29/13, 6:18 PM ET"}}

Decades later, civil rights as crucial as ever


Let me finish tonight with this.

I am profoundly impressed by the power of the African-American vote in this early century.

The ability to get to the polls - despite efforts to keep the people from getting there - is a solid, good thing for America.

It’s a display of civil energy that promises to enliven this country politically. People that vote control things; people who don’t “complain” about things.

The big Republican mistake of the last fifty years was to take the wrong side in the civil rights struggle. The irony is they had it right back in the early 1960s. It’s when they adopted the so-called “Southern strategy” that history changed on them, came back and bit them - and will keep on biting them ‘til they change again - back to the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Today is a special day in our country’s history. May 29 is the day John F. Kennedy was born.

There’s a book out there, which I’m proud to say I wrote, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. It’s about the man himself - what he was like to sit in the room with.

What he was like to tens of millions of our fellow Americans is this:

He was the President, he Jack Kennedy, who put the presidency on the side of civil rights.

It was he, fifty years ago, who called civil rights, as “old as the Scriptures, as clear as the American Constitution.”

It had never been said before until he did it. He, Jack Kennedy - our elusive hero.

Decades later, civil rights as crucial as ever