Before the mid-twentieth century, consumers had limited rights with regard to their interaction with products and commercial producers. Consumers had limited ground on which to defend themselves against faulty or defective products, or against misleading or deceptive advertising methods.
The consumer movement began to gather a following, pushing for increased rights and legal protection against malicious business practices. By the end of the 1950s, legal product liability had been established in which an aggrieved party need only prove injury by use of a product, rather than bearing the burden of proof of corporate negligence.
Helen Ewing Nelson was a drafter of the Consumer Bill of Rights and sought an outlet for distributing it.    During Kennedy's election campaign he made a promise to support consumers.  After his election, Fred Dutton, a colleague of Nelson's and a government officer who advised the president, asked for Nelson's suggestions on how the president could support consumers, and she sent him the Consumer Bill of Rights.  Kennedy presented those rights in a speech to Congress on March 15, 1962.  In that speech he named four basic rights of consumers.
The right to safety Edit
The assertion of this right is aimed at the defense of consumers against injuries caused by products other than automobile vehicles, and implies that products should cause no harm to their users if such use is executed as prescribed. The right was further formalized in 1972 by the US federal government through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This organization has jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products, and powers that allow it to establish performance standards and require product testing and warning labels.
The right to be informed Edit
This right states that business should always provide consumers with enough appropriate information to make intelligent and informed product choices. Product information provided by business should always be complete, truthful and also appropriate. Aiming to achieve protection against misleading information in the areas of financing, advertising, labeling, and packaging, the right to be informed is protected by several pieces of legislation passed between 1960 and 80.
Some of the legislation which was made because of the assertion of this right include the following:
The right to choose Edit
The right to free choice among product offerings states that consumers should have a variety of options provided by different companies from which to choose. The federal government has taken many steps to ensure the availability of a healthy environment open to competition through legislation including limits on concept ownership through patent law, prevention of monopolistic business practices through anti-trust legislation, and the outlaw of price cutting and gouging.
The right to be heard Edit
This right has the ability of consumers to voice complaints and concerns about a product in order to have the issue handled efficiently and responsively. While no federal agency is tasked with the specific duty of providing a forum for this interaction between consumer and producer, certain outlets exist to aid consumers if difficulty occurs in communication with an aggrieving party. State and federal attorneys general are equipped to aid their constituents in dealing with parties who have provided a product or service in a manner unsatisfactory to the consumer in violation of an applicable law. Also, the Better Business Bureau is a national non-governmental organization whose sole agenda is to provide political lobbies and action on behalf of aggrieved consumers.
In 1985, the concept of consumer rights was endorsed by the United Nations through the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, which expands them to include eight basic rights.
The right to satisfaction of basic needs Edit
This right demands that people have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water,
The right to redress Edit
The right to redress provides for consumers to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods, or unsatisfactory services. For example, a consumer should be able to go to consumer court against mobile phone companies that put hidden charges on the bill that were not previously explained, or activate ringtones without the consumer's permission.
The right to consumer education Edit
The right to consumer education states that consumers should be able to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
The right to a healthy environment Edit
This is the right to live and work in a work space or home that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
The NGO Consumers International adopted the eight rights and restated them as a charter.  Subsequently, the organization began recognizing the date of Kennedy's speech, March 15, as World Consumer Rights Day. 
As of May 2014, the UK Government has introduced proposed legislation before Parliament. The bill is the "Consumer Rights Bill", and it will consolidate and develop Unfair Contract Terms provisions and Consumer Protection provisions. 
John F. Kennedy
Why Famous: The youngest-ever person elected President at age 43, Kennedy assumed office at the height of the Cold War. As such his time in office was spent managing relations with the communist states.
In 1961 Kennedy approved the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in an attempt to overthrow the communist-aligned regime of Fidel Castro. A year later the discovery of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was eventually resolved peacefully.
In other affairs Kennedy sent advisers to Vietnam and launched America into the Space Race with his famous "we choose to go to the Moon" speech in 1963. While he supported the Civil Rights Movement he was not successful in getting many of his New Frontier policies passed by Congress.
On November 22, 1963, he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald, and was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson.
Born: May 29, 1917
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Snake
Star Sign: Gemini
Died: November 22, 1963 (aged 46)
Cause of Death: Assassination
Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1960 to 1964
U.S. Embassy New Delhi / CC / Flickr
While the fight for racial equality began in the 1950s, the non-violent techniques the movement embraced began to pay off during the following decade. Civil rights activists and students across the South challenged segregation, and the relatively new technology of television allowed Americans to witness the often brutal response to these protests. This civil rights movement timeline chronicles important dates during the struggle's second chapter, the early 1960s.
President Lyndon B. Johnson successfully pushed through the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a number of other groundbreaking events unfolded between 1960 and 1964, the span covered by this timeline, leading up the tumultuous period of 1965 to 1969.
February 1: Four young Black men, students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, go to a Woolworth in Greensboro, North Carolina, and sit down at a whites-only lunch counter. They order coffee. Despite being denied service, they sit silently and politely at the lunch counter until closing time. Their action marks the start of the Greensboro sit-ins, which sparks similar protests all over the South.
April 15: The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee holds its first meeting.
July 25: The downtown Greensboro Woolworth desegregates its lunch counter after six months of sit-ins.
October 19: Martin Luther King Jr. joins a student sit-in at a whites-only restaurant inside of an Atlanta department store, Rich's. He is arrested along with 51 other protesters on the charge of trespassing. On probation for driving without a valid Georgia license (he had an Alabama license), a Dekalb County judge sentences King to four months in prison doing hard labor. Presidential contender John F. Kennedy phones King's wife, Coretta, to offer encouragement, while the candidate's brother, Robert Kennedy, convinces the judge to release King on bail. This phone call convinces many Black people to support the Democratic ticket.
December 5: The Supreme Court hands down a 7-2 decision in the Boynton v. Virginia case, ruling that segregation on vehicles traveling between states is unlawful because it violates the Interstate Commerce Act.
May 4: The Freedom Riders, composed of seven Black and six White activists, leave Washington, D.C., for the rigidly segregated Deep South. Organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), their goal is to test Boynton v. Virginia.
On May 14: Freedom Riders, now traveling in two separate groups, are attacked outside Anniston, Alabama, and in Birmingham, Alabama. A mob throws a firebomb onto the bus in which the group near Anniston is riding. Members of the Ku Klux Klan attack the second group in Birmingham after making an arrangement with the local police to allow them 15 minutes alone with the bus.
On May 15: The Birmingham group of Freedom Riders is prepared to continue their trip down south, but no bus will agree to take them. They fly to New Orleans instead.
On May 17: A new group of young activists join two of the original Freedom Riders to complete the trip. They are placed under arrest in Montgomery, Alabama.
On May 29: President Kennedy announces that he has ordered the Interstate Commerce Commission to enact stricter regulations and fines for buses and facilities that refuse to integrate. Young White and Black activists continue to make Freedom Rides.
In November: Civil rights activists participate in a series of protests, marches, and meetings in Albany, Georgia, that come to be known as the Albany Movement.
In December: King comes to Albany and joins the protesters, staying in Albany for another nine months.
August 10: King announces that he is leaving Albany. The Albany Movement is considered a failure in terms of effecting change, but what King learns in Albany allows him to be successful in Birmingham.
September 10: The Supreme Court rules that the University of Mississippi, or "Ole Miss," must admit Black student and veteran James Meredith.
September 26: The governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, orders state troopers to prevent Meredith from entering Ole Miss' campus.
Between September 30 and October 1: Riots erupt over Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
October 1: Meredith becomes the first Black student at Ole Miss after President Kennedy orders U.S. marshals to Mississippi to ensure his safety.
King, SNCC and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organize a series of 1963 civil rights demonstrations and protests to challenge segregation in Birmingham.
April 12: Birmingham police arrest King for demonstrating without a city permit.
April 16: King writes his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in which he responds to eight White Alabama ministers who urged him to end the protests and be patient with the judicial process of overturning segregation.
June 11: President Kennedy delivers a speech on civil rights from the Oval Office, specifically explaining why he sent the National Guard to allow the admittance of two Black students into the University of Alabama.
June 12: Byron De La Beckwith assassinates Medgar Evers, the first field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Mississippi.
August 18: James Meredith graduates from Ole Miss.
August 28: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held in D.C. Around 250,000 people participate, and King delivers his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech.
September 15: The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham is bombed. Four young girls are killed.
November 22: Kennedy is assassinated, but his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, uses the nation's anger to push through civil rights legislation in Kennedy's memory.
March 12:, Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam. Among his reasons for the break is Elijah Muhammad's ban on protesting for Nation of Islam adherents.
Between June and August: SNCC organizes a voter registration drive in Mississippi known as Freedom Summer.
June 21: Three Freedom Summer workers—Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman—disappear.
August 4: The bodies of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman are found in a dam. All three had been shot, and the Black activist, Chaney, had also been badly beaten.
June 24: Malcolm X founds the Organization of Afro-American Unity along with John Henrik Clarke. Its aim is to unite all Americans of African descent against discrimination.
July 2: Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination in employment and public places.
July and August: Riots break out in Harlem and Rochester, New York.
August 27: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDM), which formed to challenge the segregated state Democratic Party, sends a delegation to the National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They ask to represent Mississippi at the convention. Activist Fannie Lou Hamer, spoke publicly and her speech was broadcast nationally by media outlets. Offered two nonvoting seats at the convention, in turn, the MFDM delegates reject the proposal. Yet all was not lost. By the 1968 election, a clause was adopted requiring equal representation from all state delegations.
December 10: The Nobel Foundation awards King the Nobel Peace Prize.
“JFK’s Pacific Swim” August 1962
One of the endearing charms of John F. Kennedy was the “free spirit” side of him that surfaced every so often, even as President. Throughout his life, Kennedy often battled with, and acquiesced to, his “inner boy,” with some of those moments proving more reckless and confounding than others. And yes, his much written-about sexual escapades were, for some, a little too much “free spirit,” thank you. But Kennedy, as we now know, compartmentalized, and he managed to function at an extraordinarily high level while doing so. The public, however, mostly did not know about his more reckless or darker moments while he was President. But he did have his public moments of more innocent and harmless fun where he could be a bit devilish, a bit adolescent, traveling “outside the lines” as it were bending protocol, and taking the public along as he went. His press conferences come to mind on this score, when his humor and joking with the media could take the edge off more serious matters while present-
Surprised beachgoers in Los Angeles are astounded to find President John F. Kennedy swimming on their public beach.. So were ten secret service agents charged with protecting him. Photo, Bill Beebe / Los Angeles Times.
ing himself as the very human person he was. Cavorting with a brood of Kennedy kids on a golf cart one summer at Hyannis Port is another of those “inner boy” moments where he appeared to be really having fun despite the weighty matters of state he bore. And certainly the moment captured above is part of that gallery too – where his face and smile say it all – i.e., being very pleased with himself for what he has just done. It was August 1962, while he was President, then staying at his sister and brother-in-law’s home by the sea in Santa Monica, California, escaping his presidential mantle and Secret Service agents for a dip in the Pacific Ocean.
Kenny O’Donnell is the narrator and writer of the 1971 book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, which he wrote with Dave Powers, another close JFK aide. It’s a book about Kennedy’s run for the White House and his presidency, in which O’Donnell describes JFK’s “Pacific moment” in L.A. as follows:
…One Sunday on a trip to California, he spent the afternoon at the beach home of Pat and Peter Lawford at Santa Monica, sitting in his swimming trunks beside the pool, reading a book, but glancing from time to time at the ocean surf. “Dave, look at that surf out there,” he said to [Dave] Powers, who was stretched out beside him. The president returned to the lounge chair beside the pool, picked up his sunglasses and book, and said contentedly, “That was the best swim I’ve had in months.” Dave was silently hoping that the President would be able to resist the urge to plunge into the surf, because the beach was open to the public and crowded with Sunday visitors who would rush upon Kennedy if they spied him heading toward the water.
But after an hour or so the dark classes came off, the book was put down, and he was walking across the public beach toward the waves. Dave [Powers] jumped up and hurried after him, wondering if he should summon the Secret Service guards from the front of the Lawford house for protection. He heard one sunbather saying, “He looks like President Kennedy, but President Kennedy isn’t that big and powerful looking.” the President plunged into the heavy surf and swam out beyond it while a crowd gathered, shouting and staring at his bobbing head. One woman dropped to her knees and prayed. “He’s out so far!” she cried. “Please, God, don’t let him drown!” Another woman fully dressed, followed him into the surf before she turned back.
He swam in the ocean, about a hundred yards offshore, for ten minutes while a crowd of almost a thousand people gathered on the beach. When he was coming out of the water, a photographer in street clothes waded out to his waist to take pictures. Kennedy glanced at the photographer and said, “Oh, no, I can’t believe it,” The ten Secret Service men who were guarding him splashed into the water in their business suits, forming a protecting wedge around him with Dave [Powers] and Peter Lawford to hold back the crowd that struggled to touch him and shake his hand while he made his way back across the sand to the house. The president returned to the lounge chair beside the pool, picked up his sunglasses and his book, and said contentedly, “That was the best swim I’ve had in months.”
Photographer Bill Beebe, at home with the famous 1962 JFK beach photo he snapped, during an interview in 2011.
Eva Ban, the woman in the polka-dot swimsuit appearing with JFK in the 1962 beach photo, talks on the phone with friends reacting to the front-page story as her children look on.
The Times also received a volume of mail about the photo from all over the world. Comment ranged from amazement that a national leader could mix so easily with the populace in such an informal way, to rebuke from more officious observers who felt no national leader should put himself in such a position. Sill others objected to the Times using the photo at all, believing the newspaper should have stood against running it.
However, Bill Beebe noted that the overwhelming number of letters to the Times were positive and supportive about the photo and its publication.
JFK at one of his numerous press conferences, where he would often joke with the press or use pointed humor – this one in November 1962 at State Dept. photo, Abbie Rowe.
The woman in the forefront of the photo with JFK in the polka-dot swimsuit, Eva Ban, a 43-year-old housewife and mother of two, had some momentary fame as a result of the front-page exposure, as the Los Angeles Times later ran a piece on her as well.
“It was only by chance that I happened to be there,” Mrs. Ban would later tell the Times. “The reason I was in the water and in the picture was because I was looking for my 13-year-old son, Peter. He ran into the water after the President and went out farther than he ever had before. I was worried.”
She also explained that the reason she was laughing in the picture “was because of what one woman [in the crowd] was yelling, ‘Mabel, I touched him.’ The President was laughing about this too.”
Famous photo by Stanley Tretick who captured JFK giving Lawford, Shriver & Kennedy kids the ride of their lives at Hyannis Port, MA one summer. This January 2nd, 1962 edition of Look magazine sold out on newsstands.
The L.A. beach photo also captured the reaction of admiring bystanders – in some ways, surrogates for the larger nation – seeing their president mixing with the masses, doing what they normally did on a Sunday afternoon at the beach, and being one of them. It was, in a sense, a quintessential American moment.
But there is also poignancy in this photo as well, knowing what lies ahead for this bright young president only 15 months later – leaving that begging, lasting question: why did this promising light go out so soon?
For more on the history of JFK and his family at this website see “Kennedy History,” a topics page with 12 additional stories on JFK and RFK. See also, the “Politics & Culture” page for other choices.
Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle
Date Posted: 31 March 2014
Last Update: 20 March 2021
Comments to: [email protected]
Jack Doyle, “JFK’s Pacific Swim: August 1962”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 31, 2014.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1970, pp. 409-410.
Joe Piasecki, “Remembering JFK: Friday Marks 50 Years since the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Whose Life and Death Changed America Forever,” ArgonautNews.com, November 20, 2013.
Scott Harrison, “John F. Kennedy Takes A Swim,” LATimes.com ( with video: “Bill Beebe Reflects on His 1962 JFK Image”), May 13, 2011.
Scott Harrison, “Swimming With John F. Kennedy,” LATimes.com, December 12, 2012.
Kitty Kelly, Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys, New York: Thomas Dunne/St Martin’s Press, 2012, pp. 134-135.
“Kennedy One Year Later,” Look (magazine), cover story, January 2, 1960.
“The Golden Years of Camelot: Intimate Photos of the Kennedy White House Capture Strolls Across the South Lawn, Golf Cart Rides and Playtime on Marine One,” Daily Mail (London), November, 13, 2012.
March 1962- President Kennedy's Schedule - History
John Fitzgerald Kennedy takes the oath of office and becomes the 35th President of the United States of America, January 20, 1961. At age 43, he is the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic ever elected, winning by one of the smallest margins of victory, only 115,000 popular votes. Lyndon B. Johnson, 51, is his Vice President.
Left - The new President's motorcade on Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade. Right - An aerial view of the Kennedy White House.
The President and First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, arrive at one of numerous inaugural balls held in their honor. The festivities will last until nearly 4 a.m. the next day. Just before 9 a.m., after a few hours sleep, the President arrives at the Oval Office for his first day as chief executive.
First Day in Office. Left - The swearing-in of the Kennedy cabinet, featuring the controversial appointment of the President's younger brother Robert as U.S. Attorney General. Right - A group portrait of the extended Kennedy family along with Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson.
Just five days after taking office, the President holds his first news conference, televised live from the State Department auditorium. His easy-going style and quick wit instantly endear him to many reporters and to the American people watching at home.
From the beginning and throughout his presidency, international tensions and political conflicts are a major preoccupation. Left - His first meeting with Soviet Foreign Affairs minister, Andrei Gromyko. Mid - During a news conference discussing the problems of Laos in Southeast Asia, the President states, "The security of all Southeast Asia will be endangered if Laos loses its neutral independence." He orders more military aid including U.S. armed forces to the area. Right - Addressing the NATO chiefs of staff at the State Department he pledges a strengthening of conventional forces and an effective nuclear capability.
Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, a private conversation between President Kennedy and former President Eisenhower at Camp David, Maryland. April 22, 1961.
Bay of Pigs refers to the attempt made by over 1200 anti-Castro Cuban rebels to land on the southern coast of Cuba and overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro, April 17, 1961. Although trained and backed by the U.S. government, the invasion failed as the rebels were attacked by Cuban military forces and received no support from the U.S. military or anti-Castro people in Cuba. As a result, they were quickly defeated and put in prison, causing a major embarrassment to the Kennedy White House. At a press meeting on April 20th, the President deflected much of the criticism by commenting on some of the lessons he learned from the failed mission, saying "the forces of Communism are not to be underestimated."
Shortly after this, in early June, the President traveled to Vienna, Austria, where he met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev for the first time. During two days of meetings, Khruschev sized-up the young President and underestimated his resolve, resulting later in the October Missile Crisis of 1962.
The Space Race. Left - The President, First Lady and Vice President watch Alan Shepard on television become the first U.S. astronaut by making a 15-minute suborbital flight, May 5, 1961. Following the later launch into orbit of John Glenn, the President visited Cape Canaveral in Florida and presented Glenn with NASA's Distinguished Service Medal. Right - Astronaut Glenn shows the President the space capsule in which he traveled into orbit and circled the earth three times.
In September 1962 the President delivered a speech at Rice University in which he pledged the U.S. would put a man on the moon "before the end of this decade." Seven years later, July 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
At the request of his brother Robert, standing behind him, the President signs three tough new anti-crime bills targeting organized crime. The bills prohibit telephone betting, interstate transportation for purposes of racketeering and commercial transportation of betting equipment.
Winter of 1962. After a light snowfall, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy treats John Jr. to a sled ride on the White House lawn.
Left - The President meets with eager young Peace Corps volunteers before they depart for Africa. Shortly after taking office, the President created the Peace Corps hoping to inspire young Americans to serve overseas in developing countries. Right - Cashing in on his popularity, the President makes a speech during an autumn campaign swing through several states to help Democrats in local 1962 elections.
Scenes from Camelot. Left - Renowned Spanish cellist Pablo Casals performs at the White House. Mid - During a formal White House dinner, an enchanted guest chats with the President and First Lady, who are now widely considered the most glamorous couple in the world. Right - Entertainer Danny Kaye chats with the President in the Oval Office while Judy Garland leans against the president's desk.
Left - Rose Kennedy and her son at the first awards ceremony for the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, which helps children in need. Mid - A very relaxed First Family at Hyannis Port in the summer of 1962. This picture was one of Jacqueline's favorites. Right - Fun in the Oval Office as the President encourages young Caroline and little John Jr. to dance.
October Missile Crisis. Left - After reviewing aerial photos indicating the placement of Russian missiles in Cuba, the President speaks to the nation on TV, October 22, 1962, and reports "unmistakable evidence. of offensive missile sites now in preparation. to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere. It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba. as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." Mid - The President with his chief adviser, his brother Robert. Right - On October 23rd, the President signs a proclamation prohibiting shipments of missiles and other weapons to Cuba, and authorizing the U.S. military to intercept and search any ships heading toward Cuba. The whole world then waits to see what will happen. Days later, the Russians back down and agree to remove the missiles from Cuba if the U.S. will lift its naval blockade and guarantee no U.S. invasion of Cuba.
Amid the tremendous tension of international affairs, family life goes on at the White House. Left - The arrival of family and guests for Caroline's 5th birthday party. Right - The First Family including Caroline who is all dressed up for her birthday.
Civil Rights. Another preoccupation of the Kennedy White House is the struggle of African-Americans for equal treatment. On June 11, 1963, the President orders Alabama Governor George Wallace to cease and desist from obstructing black students from attending the University of Alabama. Left - That night, the President delivers a major televised address on civil rights. "It ought to be possible. for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or color." Right - In August, leaders of the March on Washington, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins, meet to discuss civil rights.
Europe 1963. Left - At the Berlin Wall, the President looks across at a guard from communist East Germany. Mid - In Berlin, the President speaks to the enormous crowd of Germans, telling them, "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' (I am a Berliner)." From Germany, the President travels to Ireland for a three-day visit. Right - A group of Irish women thrilled to greet the Irish-American President.
Summer of 1963. Left - Caroline and her father enjoy the sea breeze at Hyannis Port during a boat ride. Mid - The President exits a candy store with John Jr. while carrying his toy animal. Right - President Kennedy bids farewell to family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. before boarding the helicopter to return to Washington.
The First Lady seen a few weeks after the death of her newborn son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died on August 9, 1963, just 39 hours after his birth. Born five weeks premature, the newborn died from resulting complications.
Left - The President speaking in Las Vegas during a five-day trip to Western U.S. states to encourage conservation of natural resources. September 28, 1963. Mid - A Halloween visit in the Oval Office from Caroline and John Jr. Right - On the south balcony of the White House, the President and his family enjoy a British bagpipe performance along with the ambassador of Great Britain. November 13, 1963.
Dallas. Arrival of the President and First Lady at Love Field, November 22, 1963. The presidential motorcade then leaves for a 45-minute trip downtown where the President is scheduled to speak to a meeting of the Citizens Council. The President and First Lady ride in an open-top limousine accompanied by Texas Governor John B. Connally and his wife. At 12:30 p.m. on Elm Street in downtown Texas the motorcade slowly approaches a triple underpass. Shots ring out. The President is struck in the back, then in the head and is mortally wounded. Gov. Connally is also struck.
At Parkland Memorial Hospital, the president's limo remains outside the emergency room where some fifteen doctors try in vain to save him. At 1 p.m. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is pronounced dead.
Left - At 2:38 p.m. on board Air Force One, Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States while Jacqueline Kennedy observes. Air Force One then takes off with the body of the slain president aboard. Mid - Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, of the body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Right - President Johnson briefly addresses the nation from the Air Force Base, saying "I ask for your help and God's."
Left - The immediate family including Jacqueline, Caroline, John Jr., and Robert, view the closed casket in the East Room of the White House. Mid - The casket leaves the White House, taken to the Capitol building for public viewing. Right - The family leaves St. Mathews Cathedral after the funeral mass. The body is then taken to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
The Oval Office of President Kennedy, now vacant and silent.
JFK Photo History
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Cuban Missile Crisis: Kennedy's Mistakes
Forty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was locked in a test of wills with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev over missiles in Cuba. Memorialized in both film and print, the Cuban missile crisis has come to be the ultimate symbol of presidential resolve and courage. In the 1974 movie "The Missiles of October" and the more recent "Thirteen Days," starring Kevin Costner, JFK is portrayed as a resolute and unflinching commander in chief. He's given the same heroic portrayal in his brother Bobby Kennedy's "Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis," a book still regularly assigned in college classes. And many historians still share the view of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. that Kennedy's actions demonstrated to the "whole world . . . the ripening of American leadership unsurpassed in the responsible management of power . . . [a] combination of toughness . . . nerve and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated that [it] dazzled the world."
In short, Kennedy's handling of the crisis has captured the popular imagination, making him perhaps the most potent symbol of Cold War courage and resolve. But now that the Soviet archives have been opened, it's time to retire JFK as Cold War hero. Instead, the mantle should be passed to Ronald Reagan who, according to those archives, was the president they most respected and feared.
Most portrayals of the Cuban missile crisis begin with the secret placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba and Kennedy's insistence that they be removed. But the story actually begins a couple of years earlier, when JFK first stepped into the Oval Office.
The Kremlin was very pleased when JFK edged out Richard Nixon in 1960. Before the election, the KGB resident in Washington had been ordered to "propose diplomatic or propaganda initiatives, or any other measures, to facilitate Kennedy's victory." The Kremlin regarded Kennedy as a "typical pragmatist," who would change his position and accommodate adversaries if it served his interests. Khrushchev went so far as to delay the release of American U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers, who was being held in prison after being shot down on a spy mission over the Soviet Union, until after the election. By doing so, said Khrushchev, he was "voting" for Kennedy.
Shortly after JFK became president, he was put to the test. In March 1961, Communist guerrillas armed with new shipments of Soviet weapons advanced deep into the eastern reaches of Laos, which borders Vietnam. The peaceful country's neutrality was supposedly guaranteed by the 1954 Geneva Accords, but the North Vietnamese wanted to use the country as a supply line for their forces fighting in the south. In short order they occupied Eastern Laos and began developing what came to be called the Ho Chi Minh Trail to arm their forces fighting in South Vietnam. In Washington, Kennedy was apprised of the situation and elected to do nothing.
One month later, a large force of Cuban exiles began landing on the beaches of Cuba, near the so-called Bay of Pigs. They had been trained and equipped by the CIA with the intent of liberating the country from Fidel Castro. The plot was something that Kennedy had inherited from Eisenhower. Kennedy signed off on the operation, but nixed a critical ingredient: When the exiles hit the beaches they did so without American air or naval support. The exile army was driven back in a matter of days. The operation was an unmitigated disaster.
A few months later, Soviet bloc leaders decided to begin construction on the Berlin Wall to stem the flow of refugees into West Berlin. As they broke ground, Kennedy became furious. He called up the reserves, sent troops to Europe, and proposed a substantial increase in the military budget. But he was not prepared to resist the move. "It seems particularly stupid," he told aides, "to risk killing a million Americans over an argument about access rights on the Autobahn."
Kennedy thought that by showing restraint he was avoiding a crisis. But in reality he was causing one. In the Kremlin, the combination of Kennedy's tough words and lack of action was seen as weakness and fear. After JFK's speech on the Berlin crisis, Khrushchev hosted a secret meeting of the Central Committees of Communist Parties of the Soviet Union. "Kennedy spoke [to frighten us] and then got scared himself," snickered Khrushchev, according to a transcript. The president was "too much of a lightweight both for the Republicans as well as for the Democrats."
For Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy's failure at the Bay of Pigs, along with Communist successes in Laos and Berlin, was proof that he could have things his way with the young president. When Robert Frost returned from a September 1962 trip to the Soviet Union, he said that Khrushchev had told him Kennedy was "too liberal to fight." In short, Kennedy was encouraging Khrushchev to pursue what would become his most dangerous gambit.
In May 1962, Khrushchev announced to the Politburo his secret plan to put Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Fidel Castro was eager for the missiles because they would deter another Bay of Pigs-type invasion. Khrushchev figured if he could pull the plan off, it would shift the balance in the arms competition because his shorter-range ballistic missiles would now be capable of reaching the United States.
The Soviet premier, seemingly always the gambler, was hoping to build the missile sites before the United States even detected them. On the chance that they were discovered, he believed that Kennedy might fear a confrontation and not take any substantial action. Soviet transport ships brought material and specialists to Cuba where construction crews busily worked on the missile batteries. The plan seemed to be going as Khrushchev hoped, until an American U-2 spy plane flying over the island uncovered the scheme. When Kennedy learned about it, he was again furious.
The president ordered an immediate naval blockade of Cuba and regular U-2 flights to monitor the situation. He explained his position to Khrushchev in unambiguous terms: Remove the missiles and the personnel to man them or military action is imminent. Khrushchev, mulling over the situation in his Kremlin office, knew the strategic situation favored the United States. Not only did America have nuclear superiority Cuba was just off the American coastline while the Soviet Union was halfway around the world. Kennedy had called his bluff a bargain needed to be struck. And Kennedy, contrary to the steely determination portrayed in the movies, was all too willing to deal.
Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles. But he wanted several things in return. For his ally Fidel Castro, who was angered by any suggestion that the missiles be pulled out, he demanded a pledge that the United States would never invade Cuba again. And for good measure, he wanted U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, which were pointed at Soviet forces, removed as well.
On Saturday, October 27, 1962, as the crisis reached a crescendo, Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin went to the Justice Department for a private meeting with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was serving as a confidant for his brother. Moscow might have been negotiating from a weak position, but Bobby Kennedy didn't press the matter. His brother was prepared to make a no invasion pledge, he told Dobrynin, and would pull the Jupiter missiles out of Turkey. But he cautioned that the deal needed to be done quietly. "The president can't say anything public in this regard about Turkey," the Soviet transcripts of the meetings quote RFK as saying. It would be too much of a political embarrassment. The missiles would need to be withdrawn under some pretext and without consulting NATO allies. Dobrynin agreed to the secret bargain and it was never mentioned in public.
Indeed, Bobby Kennedy was so sensitive about the secret deal involving missiles in Turkey that when his diary of the crisis was later published as "Thirteen Days," the editor of the book, Ted Sorensen, purposely deleted any mention of them.
LIKE THE REST OF AMERICA, Ronald Reagan spent much of October 1962 watching closely the duel between Kennedy and Khrushchev. He was of course pleased that the crisis was over. But he fretted in public that Kennedy had given up too much. He faulted Kennedy for agreeing to a no invasion pledge. "Are missile bases enough," he asked, "or will we insist on freedom for all Cubans?"
Reagan had always had his doubts about Kennedy, fearing that he was simply not up to meeting the Soviet challenge. In January 1962, during a speech at Huntington Memorial Hospital in California, he saw what Khrushchev saw, and expressed his concerns about whether JFK could handle "the roughnecks of the Kremlin." He was surrounded by "well-meaning and misguided people" who failed to understand the threat. Reagan also astutely noted that by not challenging the Communist move into Laos, Kennedy was signaling his willingness "to drink the bitter cup of capitulation" in Southeast Asia.
In the months following the Cuban missile crisis, Reagan made some pointed suggestions about what America should do next. While the Kennedy administration began pursuing arms control agreements, Reagan wrote an article explaining that the goal should be not to coexist with communism but to defeat it. Crank up the arms race, he advised in early 1963 there was no way Moscow could keep up.
When Reagan announced for the presidency years later, in 1979, the KGB wrote a secret analysis of Reagan the man. Unlike Kennedy, whom they considered prone to changing his mind, Reagan got grudging respect from the KGB. He was "a firm and unbending politician for whom words and deeds are one and the same."
Once he was elected president, Reagan outlined ambitious plans to undermine and defeat the Soviet Union in a series of secret directives. Nothing quite like it had ever been undertaken in the history of the Cold War. Using economic, military, and psychological pressure, he developed a plan to defeat the Soviet empire.
Throughout he demonstrated tremendous resolve. He enacted the largest peacetime military build-up in American history, even though the plan was opposed by the majority of his cabinet. Early in his administration, William P. Clark and Tom Reed came to him to explain the super-secret Continuity of Government program. In place since the Eisenhower administration, COG was a plan to evacuate the president from the White House in the event of a nuclear war. Both Clark and Reed could sense Reagan's discomfort as they described the program, particularly the part about being hustled away on a helicopter to a safe location. When Reed was finished Reagan shook his head.
"No, I'm not going to do that," he told them. "If it happens--God forbid--I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here at my post." The two men left and were forced to revise America's nuclear war-fighting plans.
Reagan developed an ambitious strategy and then stuck to it. Even during the heights of Gorbymania, there was very little change in the substance of his policies. Reagan was quite simply immovable, much to the frustration of the Kremlin. "No matter what diplomatic tack Moscow examined or actually took," recalls Ambassador Dobrynin, "the Reagan administration proved impervious to it. We came to realize that in contrast to most presidents who shift from their electoral rhetoric to more centrist, pragmatic positions by the middle of their presidential term, Reagan displayed an active immunity to the traditional forces, both internal and external, that normally produce a classic adjustment."
How we choose to look at the Cold War will determine how we face the strategic challenges of the war on terrorism. If we study JFK, we can learn about how to react to a crisis and the art of "crisis management." By studying Reagan, we can learn how to forge a strategy of victory and to defeat our enemies.
So as the television cameras carry 40th anniversary reruns of "Thirteen Days" with images of a resolute JFK, don't imagine that you are watching the apotheosis of Cold War toughness. Think back instead to Gdansk, Poland, on a rainy day in September 1990. Ronald Reagan is at the birthplace of Solidarity, standing in front of a crowd of thousands who are chanting "Thank You! Thank You!" while serenading him with "Sto Lat," a song in honor of Polish heroes. Lech Walesa's former parish priest approaches Reagan with a sword. "I am giving you the saber," he tells the former president, "for helping us to chop off the head of communism."
This article was first published by the Weekly Standard and is reprinted with permission.
March 31, 1962–On his birthday, Cesar Chavez resigns from the Community Service Organization after the group refuses to commit to organizing farm workers. He moves his wife and eight small children to the dusty little Central Valley farm town of Delano and dedicates himself full-time to organizing farm workers. Dolores Huerta and others later join him.
1962-1965–With few funds and often baby-sitting the youngest of his eight children, Chavez drives to dozens of farm worker towns throughout California, painstakingly building up the membership of his infant organization. Believing field strikes and union contracts are years, perhaps decades, away, Chavez concentrates on offering farm workers modest benefits and meaningful services to join his infant organization.
Sept. 30, 1962–The first convention of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) is convened with hundreds of delegates assembled in an abandoned movie theater in Fresno. The group’s distinctive flag, a black eagle symbol on a white circle in a red field, is unveiled.
September 1965–The mostly Filipino American members of another union, the AFL-CIO-affiliated Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), walk out on strike against Delano-area grape growers on Sept. 8, and ask Cesar’s largely Latino NFWA to join the walkouts. On Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day, the NFWA, with 1,200-member families, votes to join a strike. Thus begins the five-year Delano Grape Strike.
Fall, winter 1965-66–The strike continues through the fall and winter months. Chavez begins to attract support from outside the valley, from labor, church, student and civil rights activists. United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther comes to Delano to support the strikers. The strikers begin boycotting the assorted products of Schenley Industries, a major area wine grape grower.
March 1966–U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy participates in hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor. After listening to the Kern County Sheriff relate how his deputies arrested peaceful picketers because they were being threatened by struck growers, Kennedy suggests, ¡°that the sheriff and the district attorney read the Constitution of the United States.¡± Then the senator visits the union hall and picketlines, and supports the strikers.
March-April 1966–Chavez and a band of strikers embark upon a 340-mile peregrinacion (or pilgrimage) from Delano to the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento to draw national attention to the plight of farm workers. During the march and after a four-month boycott, Schenley negotiates an agreement with NFWA–the union’s first contract. Thousands of supporters join the marchers on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento on Easter Sunday.
Spring-summer 1966–A strike and boycott of the DiGiorgio Fruit Corp. (the fictional Gregorio Fruit Corp. in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath) forces the grape grower to agree to an election among its workers. The company brings in the Teamsters union to oppose Chavez’s NFWA. Soon, NFWA and the Filipino American AWOC merge to form the United Farm Workers and the union affiliates with the AFL-CIO, the national labor federation. DiGiorgio workers vote for the UFW.
1966–Next, the UFW focuses on the Perelli-Minetti wine grape operation. Workers walk out on strike. The union succeeds through a boycott of its products. The UFW negotiates union contracts with the Christian Brothers and Almaden wineries. Also that year the UFW engages in farm worker walkouts in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, battling violent strikebreaking tactics by the Texas Rangers.
1967–The UFW strikes Giumarra Vineyards Corp., California’s largest table grape grower. In response to a UFW boycott, other table grape growers allow Giumarra to use their labels. So the UFW begins a boycott of all California table grapes. Meanwhile, strikes continue against other grape growers in the state.
1967-1970–Hundreds of grape strikers, union volunteers and supporters fan out across the U.S. and Canada to organize an international grape boycott. Millions of Americans rally to La Causa, the farm workers’ cause.
February-March 1968–Responding to growing talk by mostly male strikers about resorting to the use of violence, Chavez fasts for 25 days in Delano during the hungry winter of 1968 to rededicate his movement to the principals of nonviolence practiced by M.K. Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Just a month before he is assassinated, Dr. King sends a warm message expressing solidarity. Sen. Robert Kennedy joins 8,000 farm workers and supporters at a Catholic Mass where Chavez breaks his fast, calling the weakened farm labor leader “one of the heroic figures of our time.” There is no more talk of violence by the strikers, but Chavez spends more than a year recovering from painful back ailments aggravated by the fast.
Spring 1968–The UFW devotes full time efforts to Robert Kennedy’s California Democratic presidential primary campaign in Latino barrios across the state. Some East Los Angeles precincts vote for Kennedy by margins of 99% and 100%. It is the first of hundreds of UFW-organized political campaigns that would follow, up to the present day.
Spring-summer 1970–As the boycott continues picking up steam, most California table grape growers sign UFW contracts. On July 29, 1970, led by the Giumarras, Delano-area table grape growers file into the union hall at the UFW’s ¡°Forty Acres¡± headquarters in Delano to sign their first union contracts.
Summer 1970–To keep the UFW out of California lettuce and vegetable fields, most Salinas Valley growers sign ¡°sweetheart¡± contracts with the Teamsters Union. Some 10,000 Central Coast farm workers respond by walking out on strike. The UFW uses the boycott to convince some large vegetable companies to abandon their Teamster agreements and sign UFW contracts. Chavez calls for a nationwide boycott of non-union lettuce.
Dec. 10-24, 1970–Chavez is jailed in Salinas, Calif. for refusing to obey a court order to stop the boycott against Bud Antle lettuce. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert Kennedy, visit Chavez in the Salinas jail.
1971–The UFW moves from Delano to its new headquarters at La Paz in Keene, Calif., southeast of Bakersfield. With table and wine grape contracts, and some agreements covering vegetable workers, UFW membership grows to around 70,000. Meanwhile, the union engages in a number of smaller organizing and boycott drives.
1972–The UFW signs a contract with the Coca Cola Co. covering its Minute Maid citrus workers in Florida. The union defeats a Nixon administration bid to curb the UFW by placing the union under restrictions of federal labor statutes even though farm workers have been excluded from protections of the law since 1935 one million protest letters flood the National Republican Committee. The UFW is chartered as an independent affiliate by the AFL¡©CIO it becomes the United Farm Workers of America.
May 11-June 4, 1972–Chavez fasts for 25 days in Phoenix over a just-passed Arizona law essentially banning the right of farm workers to strike, boycott or organize. The fast and resulting UFW-sponsored grass roots campaigns transform politics in the heavily Latino state where Chavez was born, leading to the election of Latino governors, including the current chief executive.
Spring-summer 1973–When the UFW’s three-year grape contracts come up for renewal, growers?including the E&J Gallo winery?sign sweetheart pacts with the Teamsters without an election or any representation procedure. That sparks a bitter months-long strike by grape workers in California’s Coachella and San Joaquin valleys. Some 3,500 nonviolent strikers are arrested for violating anti-picketing injunctions, many of which are later overturned as unconstitutional, hundreds of strikers are beaten, dozens are shot and two are murdered. In response to the violence, Chavez calls off the strike and begins a second grape boycott. Once again, strikers, union staff and volunteers spread out to cities across North America, organizing popular support for the boycotts of table grapes, lettuce and Gallo wine.
1973-1975–According to a nationwide 1975 Louis Harris poll, 17 million Americans are boycotting grapes. Many are also boycotting lettuce and Gallo wine.
June 1975–Jerry Brown becomes California governor. In response to the strikes and boycotts?as well as mounting pressure from the supermarket industry?growers agree to a state law guaranteeing California farm workers the right to organize, vote in state-supervised secret-ballot elections and bargain with their employers. With help from Gov. Brown, the UFW wins passage of the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act.
July-August 1975–To educate farm workers about their newly-won rights, Chavez embarks upon his longest, and least known, march, a 1,000-mile 59-day trek from the Mexican border at San Ysidro north along the coast to Salinas and then from Sacramento south down the Central Valley to the UFW’s La Paz headquarters at Keene, southeast of Bakersfield. Tens of thousands of farm workers march and attend evening rallies to hear Chavez and organize their ranches.
September 1975-January 1976–Hundreds of elections are held. The UFW wins the majority of the elections in which it participates despite the fact at most companies it confronts growers illegally supporting an incumbent union, the Teamsters, in what experts predict is an unbeatable combination. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), which enforces the law, briefly shuts down after running out of money because of the flood of election activity. Pro-grower lawmakers refuse to approve an emergency appropriation and push bills to weaken the law
Spring, summer, fall 1976–UFW organizers and volunteers collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to place their own initiative, Proposition 14, on the November ballot to restore the shut-down ALRB and prevent amendments weakening the farm labor law. Although a well-financed and deceptive grower TV ad campaign defeats the initiative, it forces the Legislature to restore funding for the ALRB.
Mid-to-late 1970s–The UFW continues winning elections and signing contracts with growers. The union establishes comprehensive schools at its La Paz headquarters to train farm workers and union staff to become negotiators and contract administrators. In 1977, the Teamsters union signs an historic “jurisdictional” agreement with the UFW and agrees to leave the fields. In 1978, the UFW calls off its boycotts of grapes, lettuce and Gallo wines as it appears the law is working.
1978–The union initiatives a comprehensive statewide drive aimed at convincing the University of California to earmark a fraction of the research and development resources it devotes for the promotion of agricultural mechanization to aid the tens of thousands of farm workers whose livelihoods are wiped out by the machines. The campaign includes multiple seminars attended by hundreds of farm workers and activists across California, appeals to Gov. Jerry Brown and the UC Board of Regents, and legislation introduced at the state Capitol.
January-October 1979–In a bid to improve wages and benefits, the UFW strikes a number of major lettuce and vegetable growers up and down the state. Grower foremen shoot to death Rufino Contreras, a 27-year old striker, in an Imperial Valley lettuce field.
September 1979–After a strike and boycott, the UFW wins its demands for a significant pay raise and other contract improvements from SunHarvest, the nation’s largest lettuce producer. Other growers also settle. The union begins a boycott of Bruce Church Inc. lettuce.
Summer 1980–Thousands of garlic workers in Santa Clara and San Benito counties join UFW strikes and vote for the union in state-conducted elections. Children as young as six years old qualify to vote in union elections. UFW demonstrators outside the Gilroy Garlic Festival include small children holding signs that read, ¡°Garlic worker.¡±
Early 1980s–With election victories and contract negotiations during the 1970s and early ¡®80s, the number of farm workers protected by UFW contracts grows to the mid-40,000s.
1982–Republican George Deukmejian is elected California governor with $1 million in grower campaign contributions.
1983-1990–Deukmejian’s political appointees shut down enforcement of the state farm labor law. Thousands of farm workers lose their UFW contracts. Many are fired and blacklisted. Grower agents shoot Fresno-area dairy worker Rene Lopez, 19, to death just after he votes in a 1983 union election. Chavez declares a third grape boycott in 1984.
1986–Chavez kicks off the “Wrath of Grapes” campaign to draw public attention to the pesticide poisoning of grape workers and their children.
July-August 1988–At age 61, Chavez conducts his last, and longest, public fast of 36 days in Delano to call attention to farm workers and their children stricken by pesticides.
Late 1980s-early 1990s–After recovering from his fast, Chavez continues pressing the grape boycott and aiding farm workers who wish to organize. The UFW wins elections to represent tomato workers in San Joaquin County. Workers at the state’s largest tree fruit company vote for the UFW.
Spring-summer 1992–Working with UFW First Vice President Arturo Rodriguez, Chavez leads vineyard walkouts in the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys. As a result, grape workers win their first industry-wide pay hike in eight years.
April 23, 1993–Cesar Chavez dies at the modest home of a retired San Luis, Ariz. farm worker while defending the UFW against a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought against the union by the large vegetable grower Bruce Church Inc.
April 29, 1993–Some 40,000 mourners march behind Chavez’s plain pine casket during funeral services in Delano.
May 1993–Veteran UFW organizer Arturo Rodriguez succeeds Chavez as union president.
March-April 1994–On the first anniversary of Chavez’s passing, Arturo Rodriguez leads a 343-mile march retracing the UFW founder’s historic 1966 route from Delano to Sacramento. Some 17,000 farm workers and supporters gather on the state Capitol steps to help kick off a new UFW field organizing and contract negotiating campaign.
August 8, 1994–President Bill Clinton posthumously presents the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, to Cesar Chavez. His widow, Helen, receives the medal during a White House ceremony.
1994-2005–Since the new UFW organizing drive began in 1994, farm workers vote for the UFW in union elections and the UFW signs many new, or first-time, agreements with growers. UFW membership rises from around 20,000 in 1993 to 27,000 individuals working at least one day out of the year under union contract. The union organizes and bargains on behalf of major rose, mushroom, strawberry, wine grape and lettuce and vegetable workers in California, Florida and Washington state, as well as some non-agricultural workers in California and Texas. The UFW also continues its tradition of mobilizing mass grass roots support for pro-farm worker political candidates in California, Arizona and Texas.
Mid- to late-1990s–Despite intense industry resistance, the UFW mounts a major organizing campaign in the Central Coast strawberry industry. It results in two union contracts, including Coastal Berry Co., the nation’s largest direct employer of strawberry workers.
1999-2005–The UFW wins enactment of key laws and regulations benefiting farm workers, from seat belts in farm labor vehicles and fresh protections for workers cheated by farm labor contractors to an historic binding mediation law and new pesticide protections. The UFW convinces Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 to issue an emergency regulation preventing further heat deaths of farm workers and all outdoor employees.
2000-2005–With government statistics showing most farm workers are undocumented, over a three year period the UFW and the nation’s agricultural industry negotiate the historic AgJobs bill, compromise federal legislation that would allow undocumented farm workers in this country now to earn the legal right to permanently stay in the U.S. by continuing to work in agriculture. Introduced in 2003, it wins broad, bipartisan support from more than 500 organizations, including labor, business, Latino, immigrant rights and clergy groups. In April 2005, AgJobs becomes the first major immigration reform bill in nearly 20 years to win support from a majority of U.S. senators, many of them Republicans, on a upper-house floor vote, although it doesn’t muster the ¡°supermajority¡± required to overcome a filibuster. AgJobs’ principal Senate sponsors, Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) pledge to bring it up the measure again.
2000-2005–The UFW increasingly makes use of the Internet to solicit mass grass-roots participation in union organizing, boycott, legislative and political campaigns by tens of thousands of farm workers and supporters across North America. The UFW’s own list serve reaches 50,000 active members. Hundreds of thousands of supporters are involved through UFW appeals forwarded by allied and sympathetic organizations.
Summer, fall 2002–The UFW organizes massive public support, including a much-publicized 150-mile march from Merced to Sacramento, to convince then Gov. Gray Davis to sign the UFW-sponsored binding mediation law, the first time the Agricultural Labor Relations Act has been amended since its passage in 1975.
2005–The latest UFW organizing drives include a successful 22-month legal and contract campaign?and a three-month boycott?that produces a new contract with Gallo winery in Sonoma. The union mounts a major organizing drive among Central Valley table grape workers resulting in a summer election at Giumarra vineyards, America’s largest table grape producer. Labor observers say it is one of the largest private sector union election campaigns in the nation in 2005. In November 2005, the state farm labor board rules the UFW has established a prima facie case that the election should be thrown out because of numerous violations of the law by Giumarra.
Sinatra used his star power to help JFK win votes
The Sinatra-Kennedy pairing was, in part, an alliance of shared interests. Given the former&aposs influence as a top-selling recording artist and A-list movie star, the campaign figured he was the perfect person to recruit fellow high-profile entertainers to spread the word and open their pocketbooks in support of the rising politician. Furthermore, Kennedy patriarch, Joseph, reportedly wanted Sinatra to use his organized crime ties to influence the union vote, dangling a potential administration position as motivation.
But there was also very much a mutual admiration between the two. Sinatra represented the glamour of Hollywood, and with the rest of the Rat Pack – primarily consisting of singer-actors Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., comedian Joey Bishop and Lawford – they projected an image of urban sophisticates who coasted on their talents and were too cool to follow rules.
Kennedy, on the other hand, represented big-time power, a connection to congressional corridors and the kingmakers who helped determine who was running the country. In a grass-is-greener sense, each found the other to be living an enviable life.
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