In the month of June, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald's already strange, young life takes another bizarre turn as he was working at the Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans and passing out Pro-Castro leaflets in his spare time.
Here he developed relationships with Guy Bannister, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw and Judyth Vary... an odd bunch indeed.
Oswald spoke to friends and co-workers of dreams of going to work for NASA.
Oswald's time in New Orleans is the focus of Oliver Stone's film JFK.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C. one of the most fascinating Junes in the history of America was unfolding:
"We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives." Presdient John F. Kennedy, 6/11/63
June 10 - JFK's American University speech: U.S. President Kennedy chose to announce his decision to suspend nuclear testing and work towards a nuclear test-ban treaty with the other atomic powers, as part of the commencement address at American University in Washington. This is one of the greatest speeches made by an American President in the 20th Century. It rivals President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in its power and promise and defined a way forward for America and Russia out of the Cold War.
June 11 - JFK's Address to the American People on Civil Rights: JFK delivered a historic Civil Rights Address, in which he promised a Civil Rights Bill, and asked for "the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves."
Alabama Governor George C. Wallace stood in the door of the University of Alabama to protest against integration, and blocked James Hood and Vivian Malone from enrolling as the first African American students at the University.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara ordered that the Alabama National Guard be placed under the command of the federal government, and directed the 31st Infantry Division of the Guard to proceed to Tuscaloosa. Assistant U.S.
Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach approached Wallace and cited the U.S. District Court order of June 5, requiring that the students be allowed to register, and Wallace replied, "We don't need a speech here," and then read aloud a statement that he did "hereby proclaim and demand and forbid this illegal and unwarranted action by the central government."
Governor Wallace stepped aside at 3:40 that afternoon, after the Alabama National Guard commander, Brigadier General Henry Graham, told Wallace that the Guard would enforce the President's order and Wallace, who elected not to be arrested for contempt of federal court, stepped aside.
What would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was sent by President Kennedy to the United States Congress, and was introduced the next day in the House Judiciary Committee by U.S. Representative Emanuel Celler. The most comprehensive civil rights legislation in United States history, the legislation would be passed after Kennedy's assassination, with President Lyndon B. Johnson signing it into law on July 2, 1964.
And now to Vietnam...
June 11 - South Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, committed suicide by self-immolation, burning himself to death at a major intersection in Saigon to protest the oppression of Buddhists by the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Associated Press photographer Malcolm Browne was the only journalist "to heed Buddhist advance notices", and his photographs brought worldwide attention the next day.
I believe this self immolation and the photo that went around the world was a last-straw motivating President Kennedy to find a peaceful solution to the increasing violence and confrontation in Vietnam.
Peace was not only possible in the month of June 1963, it was a moral imperative for President Kennedy. Peace at home, peace abroad had to be worked at, fought for. JFK started the fight.
June 26 - JFK visits West Berlin and delivers his now-famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech advocating representative democracy and capitalism as a replacement for communist regimes around the world.
In June, 1963 - the forces of good and evil in America were lining up for battle.