Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

November 1, 1960

Guest post by Ivan Monroy, History MA student at Arizona State University.

On Tuesday, November 1, 1960, the Atlanta Daily World published an article entitled “Kennedy Wins In Political Poll Out At Morehouse.” Students at Morehouse College, along with faculty and special guests Frank Smith, William Clark, Michael Davis, and James Compton, participated in a panel discussion concerning presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. Each candidate had two spokespeople laying out their policy positions and arguing in favor of their candidate. The topic of the panel discussion was “Who should be the next President of the United States—Kennedy or Nixon?”

After the panel discussion, students and faculty took a straw vote. Asked which candidate they preferred for president, students cast 225 votes for Kennedy and 201 for Nixon. Among faculty, the voting margin was far wider. Kennedy received 14 votes, while Nixon received a mere 4.

The straw poll at Morehouse was a microcosm for the election. In 1960 John F. Kennedy received about 68 percent of the nonwhite vote, while Nixon received just 32 percent. Kennedy won the black vote by even wider margins in heavily black populated states, in part, because of his stance on civil rights issues, but in large part, for playing a key role in having Martin Luther King Jr. released from jail after having been arrested during a sit-in in Atlanta, Georgia

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