Sunday, June 9, 2013


June 9, 2013


Honolulu, Hawaii (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy gave an address to the United States Conference of Mayors 50 years ago today, June 9, 1963, here in Honolulu.

The speech was given in the Lawn House at the HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE HOTEL*.

                          Dukes Lagoon
                Hilton Hawaiian Village
                     Honolulu, Hawaii
        Photo by Travis.Thurston (2009)

*The Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, located at 2005 Kalia Road in Honolulu, was built on the former village of KALIA, the childhood home of DUKE KAHANAMOKU^.  It was developed in the early 1900s by Henry J. Kaiser.

^DUKE KAHANAMOKU (1890-1968) was a 5 time Olympic medalist who spread the sport of surfing around the world.  Although not royalty (Duke was his given name not a title), he was from a prominent Hawaiian family.

            Duke Kahanamoku Memorial
               Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
             Photo by Cristo Vlahos (2011)

Hilton Hotels purchased the resort in 1961 and today it is the largest hotel in the chain offering 3,386 rooms in 7 towers as well as 18 restaurants and lounges.

The Duke Kahanamoku Beach fronting the resort was voted the 2nd best beach in America in 2012.

  Hilton Hawaiian Village Panorama
               Photo D Ramey Logan
                    by WPPilot (2005)

For more information visit

The President began his remarks with the traditional 'ALOHA.'

JFK went on to say that he saw this conference as an opportunity for him to...

"talk to some of my fellow executives who bear great responsibilities...for the welfare of our country, the welfare of our States, and the welfare of our communities."

The main topic of the President's address was the problem of RACE RELATIONS.

President Kennedy said...

"In the last analysis, what happens in Birmingham, or Chicago, or Los Angeles or Atlanta depends...upon the leadership of those communities.

We will back you up...but the mayor of every metropolitan city...must be aware of the difficult challenges he...will face in the coming months."

The President continued...

"The events in Birmingham have stepped up the tempo of the nationwide drive for full equality--and rising summer temperatures are often accompanied by rising human emotions."

He reminded the mayors that the role of the Federal government is not to control the civil rights demonstrations but to provide peaceful solutions through legislation and Executive action.

JFK pointed out that it was not only the right thing to do but financially beneficial to America's cities.

He said cities which have racial disturbances....

"attract less capital and less business," as in Birmingham, Alabama where investment in  new plant and expansion "had declined some 80% in a few years."

The President continued...

"The time for token moves and talk is is our see that (civil rights) are won in a peaceful and constructive way, and not won in the streets."

JFK went on to recommend 5 areas where the mayors could take important action...

1. Establish a biracial human relations committee.
2. Pass ordinances and practices in accordance with constitutional law.
3. Follow nondiscriminatory practices in employment and promotion of
     municipal workers.
4. Enact equal opportunity ordinances.
5. Institute a special campaign to reduce unemployment of both races.

The President added...

"I have not proposed...any step that the Federal Government is unwilling to take in its own area of jurisdiction, (and) we have supported equal rights in the courts and in the Congress and will shortly prepare further steps."

JFK concluded his remarks to the mayors with these words...

"Justice cannot wait for too many meetings (or)...for the action of the Congress or the courts.  We face a moment of moral and constitutional crisis, and men of generosity and vision must make themselves heard...

I do not say that all men are equal in their ability, their character, or their motivation, but I say they should be equal in their chance to develop their character, their motivation, and their ability.

They should be given a fair chance to develop all the talents that they have, which is the basic assumption and presumption of this democracy of ours."


"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, January 1 to November 22, 1963," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.