Friday, June 13, 2008
Russert's Last Show: Kennedy's Prophecy: 40 Years Ago, Robert Kennedy predicted U.S. would be ready to elect an African-American as President
This is from a post earlier this week:
On today's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert recalled the seemingly uncanny prediction by Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s that America would be ready to elect an African-American as president by 2008. "There is no question about it," said Kennedy to the Washington Post. "In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother has." Kennedy said race relations were progressing at such a rate that "we are not going to accept the status quo."
In underlying this quote, Russert seemed amazed by Kennedy's almost prophetic comment. "Extraordinarily prescient," said Russert.
As my book explains in detail, the Kennedys likened the plight of blacks in America to their own understanding of bigotry faced by Irish Catholics in Boston. In his bid for president in 1960, John F. Kennedy struggled to overcome the fears and bias against the notion of having a Catholic in the White House. (Interestingly, even Martin Luther King's father, a well-known Baptist minister, opposed Kennedy initially because of his religion.)
Russert probably remembers his own reaction to JFK's election, as my book recounts on page 598-99: "Sophisticates such as television commentator Tim Russert still remember how the Irish Catholics in his old Buffalo neighborhood, the morning after the 1960 election, bounded out of their houses and yelled, We won! We won! 'He was Irish Catholic and one of us,' Russert recalled. 'For me it was so important because I now realized we could do anything. There were no more obstacles, no more limits."