In the early 1960s, the country was poised for a new mission, and it is impossible to recreate the horror and distress over the assassination of Kennedy. The primacy of the United States was never so much accepted, its prestige around the world never higher. Ordinary human beings cried for Kennedy from Africa to the Aleutians. At home, poet Arnold Lee Greenberg wrote, “More than a president is dead;/and not ten thousand bullets/in ten thousand heads/could make the moment different.” For many, the collapse of the mission stemmed from this one senseless act; and so did the subsequent evils of the 1960s and 1970s – war, racism, domestic upheaval, and political deceit. But the turmoil after Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy had many sources in the nation’s past. The effort by black Americans for a measure of equality proved one of the most significant.
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