Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

October 10, 1960

Guest post by Matthew Peters, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.

On October 10, 1960, the Chicago Defender ran an article regarding the Presidential race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.  The article mainly discusses the differences between each of the presidential candidates’ opinions on the Civil Rights Movement. The article refers to the various arguments both candidates, mainly John F. Kennedy, are presenting on the issue of race and how that is going to play into the election of the next President. For example, Kennedy calls Nixon’s actions on race “reckless” and says, Nixon “did not choose to take up the issue [of race] at all” during the first debate between Kennedy and Nixon. Additionally, Kennedy argues that he has been unable to find any of the convictions that Nixon claims he has about race in any of Nixon’s speeches to Southern voters.

This article represents how both Kennedy and Nixon viewed race as an almost hostile issue, as is evident by how Kennedy uses words like “reckless” to describe Nixon’s views on racial issues. The fact that the two leading candidates are making the issue tense is very symbolic.

The article only uses quotes from Kennedy in order to portray Nixon in a negative light. The article does not contain any quotes from Nixon or any Republican coming to Nixon’s defense after these attacks by Kennedy on his campaign platform. One must question the ultimate bias of this author/the newspaper if there was no rebuttal by Nixon or his campaign. Another question that could be posed is which candidate did African Americans favor during the presidential campaign at this time? If many African Americans preferred John F Kennedy to Richard Nixon, than the fact that there are no quotes by Nixon in this article would make sense.

This article also allows historians a better look at the bias in the media in providing one-sided analysis of various issues, especially during such a hostile time in American history. 

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