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JFK, Obama: Parallel Challenges

Gauging progress against prejudice on the 50th anniversary of JFK's election.



Nov. 8, 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the election of John F. Kennedy as the 35th president of the United States. Presidential historian Robert Dallek argues that the election of Kennedy, a Catholic, in 1960 made it possible for another presidential candidate to succeed nearly a half century later.

Kennedy and Barack Obama, each young and energetic, faced huge barriers of prejudice. For Kennedy, it was his religion. And for Obama, it was his race. Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963, says that how each candidate confronted his critics — head-on, by delivering a major speech in the months before Election Day — helped cement his historic victory.

Watch an interview with Dallek in the player above.

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