The Modern Presidency and Civil Rights: Rhetoric on Race from Roosevelt to Nixon

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Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has confronted civil rights issues during his tenure in the White House, and most have faced intense demands to speak publicly about possible solutions to the nation's racial problems. Indeed, modern American presidents have become a major focal point for the civil rights struggle.

In The Modern Presidency and Civil Rights, Garth E. Pauley explores the pattern of presidential rhetoric on race in the modern era. He examines four significant episodes of American presidential speech: Harry Truman's address of June 29, 1947, to the NAACP; Dwight D. Eisenhower's national address on September 24, 1957, following the integration crisis at Little Rock; John F. Kennedy's speech on June 11, 1963, labeling civil rights as primarily a moral issue; and Lyndon B. Johnson's voting rights message of March 15, 1965. Pauley also provides a historical background by discussing Roosevelt's racial stance.

Several assumptions about the presidency, civil rights, and rhetoric guide Pauley's analyses, beginning with the assumption that presidential rhetoric matters. Pauley examines the role of rhetoric in leadership, policy making, and the political meanings and interpretations that form the political culture. Following in the tradition of his discipline, Pauley looks at the speech text itself and considers the history surrounding the speech.

Historians, political scientists, and those studying speech communication will welcome Pauley's work, which shows the promise and limitations of presidential talk with regard to civil rights.

About the Author:
Garth E. Pauley, who received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University, is assistant professor of Communication Art and Sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Garth E. Pauley received his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University and is assistant professor of Communication Art and Sciences at Calvin College.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Presidents, Race, and Rhetoric 3
Ch. 2 Harry Truman and the NAACP 31
Ch. 3 Dwight Eisenhower against the Extremists 58
Ch. 4 John F. Kennedy and the Moral Crisis of 1963 105
Ch. 5 Lyndon Johnson Overcomes 159
Ch. 6 Presidential Rhetoric and the Civil Rights Era 200
Notes 221
Index 251
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