Monday, June 2, 2008

"A Nation of Immigrants" -- JFK Speech 50 Years Ago




Much of my book "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" is based on the view that the Kennedy story is not about Camelot or "curses" but rather the story of immigration in America. The profound influence of ethnicity, religion and immigrant background on the world-view of President Kennedy is never more apparent than in his little-known 1958 booklet, "A Nation of Immigrants." It's extraordinary to me that so many Kennedy bios and histories ignore this book, which prompted the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, pushed through the Senate by his two brothers, Robert and Edward Kennedy, in JFK's memory. It brought about a profound change in immigrant policy in this country, which opened the doors to millions of new immigrants from around the world. In many ways, as my book suggests, this is perhaps the Kennedy family's greatest legacy to America.