Skip to Content

College of Arts and Sciences

UofSC history professor pens new account of the Kennedys' fight for racial justice

What’s new: University of South Carolina history professor Patricia Sullivan has written a new book spotlighting Robert Kennedy’s role in the movement for racial equality in the 1960s. 
Why it matters: Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White challenges prevailing arguments that the Kennedy administration did not do enough to support the Civil Rights Movement. 

In her article for, Sullivan shares that her book details how:

  • JFK appointed his brother Robert “Bobby” Kennedy as attorney general, to much public criticism.
  • As attorney general, RFK used the weight of the federal government to enforce school desegregation and voting rights.
  • Both Kennedys came to realize the shortcomings of the law in uprooting racial inequality.
  • RFK pushed for expanded anti-poverty programs especially in urban areas.
  • The assassinations of both Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. rocked the American people. 

What’s next: Sullivan specializes in modern United States history, with an emphasis on African American history, race relations, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement. She hopes readers will realize the lasting hold of racial inequality and division in America. 
“America is once again in a racially charged moment, and this is a history with crucial lessons for a continuing struggle,” she says. 
“I hope readers come to a deeper understanding of the complex history of the struggle for racial justice and a full and inclusive democracy, which has been waged by successive generations of activists and citizens.” 
Read Sullivan’s full article on 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.