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president to make America great. Du Bois to John F. Kennedy but never sent mapped out what Du Bois said was the way to gain the world’s respect, and told Kennedy that African Americans held great hope that he would make fast and sweeping changes, like ending states’ rights that allowed racism and brutality to fester.

“You, Mr. President, have said that our county has lost prestige in the councils of the world. We believe that this is true and that there is a definite relationship between this fact and the attitude of government toward us, its Negro nationals. Some of us cast our vote impelled by the hope your words generated, and guided by the fact that we cannot live as formerly.”

An original copy of the three page letter was installed Tuesday in a new Du Bois exhibit at the Mason Library on Main Street at the start of a five week festival to celebrate what would be Du Bois’ 150th birthday on Feb. 23.

Randy Weinstein, director of the Du Bois Center Great Barrington assembled the exhibit from his collection, as well as from items on loan from the UMass Amherst Libraries W. E. B. Du Bois Library, which loaned the original petition.

Written in February of that year, when Du Bois was 93, it never left his study.

In it he decries “the practice of gradualism,” and tells Kennedy he should use the Executive Order to make decisive changes to state and federal laws applying to the treatment of African American citizens.

He said the country needed awakening from a “self denying lethargy” to “end segregation and jim crow now.”

And he appealed to Kennedy’s “great influence to bring respect for the inalienable rights of man.”

Du Bois advised an all out crusade.

“Mobilize science and the arts to render shattering blows to the myth of white superiority in every area of our cultural life . these shameful features of our national life astound and shock the world.”

He went on to tell Kennedy to finish what Abraham Lincoln had started, and laid out plans that included appointing an African American to a new cabinet post known as “Secretary of Civil Rights.” This role,
tall chestnut uggs Unsent petition to JFK asks for sweeping changes
he said, would protect African Americans from racist state agencies working “under the guise” of states’ rights.

As well as voting rights for blacks, Du Bois also called for Kennedy to create programs that would put an end to city ghettos, and root out racism and discrimination in state and federal agencies, and other businesses and institutions.

It is possible the petition was never sent because the NAACP founder and leader got sidetracked, Weinstein said. His daughter Yolande died the following month, and Du Bois brought her body from New York to Great Barrington to bury her in the Mahaiwe Cemetery. on the basis of what were its tenets of humanizing policies.

“Free education for everyone, free health care for everyone that’s what the Communist Party stood for in 1961,” Weinstein said.

But in a nation still gripped by cold war fever and policies, this didn’t go over well. It only increased suspicion of Du Bois, who was already under government surveillance as he went about writing and lecturing about equal rights for African Americans.

By 1961, Du Bois was weary from years of attack and harassment because of his activism and ideas.

Weinstein said Du Bois’ towering contributions, amid living life, continued at an astonishing pace.

“How many people do you know are 93 and function like this?” Weinstein said.

Kennedy had only been in office for little more than a month when Du Bois wrote the petition,
tall chestnut uggs Unsent petition to JFK asks for sweeping changes
which ends with Du Bois saying he believed Kennedy could use his sword of power to cut deep into the belly of this most wicked American beast.