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(NECN) – We were joined by Boston College Professor Patrick Maney, who gave us insight into John F. Kennedy’s service during his brief time in office.
What was JFK’s single greatest achievement?
Maney said Kennedy’s greatest achievement was not legislative; rather, it was to inspire Americans to public service, especially a younger generation.
“Having said that, there’s a real gap between the image of Kennedy and his actual legislative record, which was pretty meager.”
Many said Kennedy inspired great hope among African Americans during the 1960 campaign that he would be a strong supporter of civil rights.
“But then once in office, he moved slowly, if at all.”
Maney said, even if JFK had lived, he wouldn’t have been able to do what Lyndon Johnson did with civil rights, because Johnson was a ‘legislative master.’
“Kennedy may have been more powerful in death than in life because Johnson was able to use Kennedy’s death to persuade Congress that they needed to pass civil rights as a tribute to the fallen president.”
With JFK’s assassination, there was a loss of innocence for America and the beginning of conspiracy theories.
Maney said Kennedy’s death was like Pearl Harbor for older generations and like 9/11 for younger generations.
“Things were just forever different.”