On two consecutive days in June 1963, in two lyrical speeches, John F. Kennedy pivots dramatically and boldly on the two greatest issues of his time: nuclear arms and civil rights. In language unheard in lily white, Cold War America, he appeals to Americans to see both the Russians and the "Negroes" as human beings.
His speech on June 10 leads to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963; his speech on June 11 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Based on new material -- hours of recently uncovered documentary film shot in the White House and the Justice Department, fresh interviews, and a rediscovered draft speech -- Two Days in June by Andrew Cohen captures Kennedy at the high noon of his presidency in startling, granular detail.
Historians generally portray the 1950s as a conservative era when anticommunism and the Cold War subverted domestic reform, crushed political dissent, and ended liberal dreams of social democracy. These years, historians tell us, represented a turn to the right, a negation of New Deal liberalism, an end to reform.
Jennifer Delton argues that, far from subverting the New Deal state, anticommunism and the Cold War enabled, fulfilled, and even surpassed the New Deal's reform agenda. Anticommunism solidified liberal political power and the Cold War justified liberal goals such as jobs creation, corporate regulation, economic redevelopment, and civil rights.
In her book, Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal, Skidmore College History Professor Jennifer Delton shows how despite President Eisenhower's professed conservatism, he maintained the highest tax rates in U.S. history, expanded New Deal programs, and supported major civil rights reforms.
Alan is joined by journalist and author Donald Connery, a World War II veteran and Harvard grad who covered the Cold War for United Press, Time, Life, NBC, and other outlets. Connery’s new book is Escape From Oblivion: A Moscow Correspondent’s Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis.