Outbreaks of racial violence in the summer of 1965 force a further evolution of the civil rights movement as the African-American liberation struggle reaches a crucial phase. President Kennedy, realizing that civil rights must be his legacy, increasingly begins to view the ongoing war in Vietnam as a distraction he can no longer afford–but ending the conflict proves more difficult than anyone anticipated. In the summer of 1966, Kennedy suffers a terrible personal tragedy that crystallizes his priorities for the remainder of his term in the White House.
Content Warning: this episode contains a brief discussion of racially-motivated violence.
Although the incidents of racial violence described in the story are technically fictional, they are–unfortunately–based on real events that occurred in the explosive history of race relations in the mid-1960s. Omaha, Nebraska is not at all a far-fetched potential location for such events, as it was in the 1960s, and remains today, one of the most segregated and racially unequal cities in America. Violence by police against African-American communities was a problem then and obviously remains a problem now. The possibility that it could be, and should have been, addressed by federal legislation in the 1960s was the genesis of the “Comprehensive Civil Rights Act” that appears in the story.
Another deviation from real history is the survival of Malcolm X, the Black liberation leader who in real life was assassinated, most likely by elements of the Nation of Islam, in February 1965. The philosophy behind this story treats the assassinations of the 1960s (both Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X) as disruptions and interruptions of history, and thus part of the concept here is to hypothesize what might have happened if those disruptions hadn’t occurred.
Next Episode: May 23, 2021