John F. Kennedy’s Letter to the United Negro College Fund After His Great 1959 Speech There, Endorsing the Organization and Praising “the outstanding job the Fund is doing in the fields of education and human relations.”

Letters of JFK on issues of race are incredibly uncommon. This is offered for sale for the first time

Soon he would donate the proceeds he received for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, to the Fund

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded in 1944 by Frederick Patterson, President of the Tuskegee Institute, and Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Administration, to provide a steady,...

Read More

John F. Kennedy’s Letter to the United Negro College Fund After His Great 1959 Speech There, Endorsing the Organization and Praising “the outstanding job the Fund is doing in the fields of education and human relations.”

Letters of JFK on issues of race are incredibly uncommon. This is offered for sale for the first time

Soon he would donate the proceeds he received for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, to the Fund

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded in 1944 by Frederick Patterson, President of the Tuskegee Institute, and Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Administration, to provide a steady, consistent stream of funding to 27 financially struggling small historically black colleges and universities scattered across the South. It also hoped to support access to higher education for impoverished African American students by “an appeal to the national conscience.” Early UNCF supporters included President Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who sat on the board until his death in 1960. The first annual fundraising effort generated $760,000, a sum that would be worth about $15 million today. In 1948 a young Martin Luther King, Jr., graduated from UNCF-member institution Morehouse College. But he did more than give it lip service; he donated his Pulitzer Prize proceeds from his prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, to the UNCF.
Then in 1959 the organization got a big boost when Massachusetts Senator (and future President) John F. Kennedy decided to get involved in a big way. He spoke to its national convocation that year, which was held in Indianapolis on April 12. In his stirring speech to that convocation in support of its goals, JFK stated: “So let us raise both our sights and our standards. One era in the history of our Negro colleges is coming to an end. But another is just beginning. It will require more, not less, effort – greater, not smaller, expenditures – increased, not decreased, recognition from the American people.” He also discussed competition between the United States and Soviet Union, the integration of schools, and challenges facing the international community regarding equality for all.

Typed letter signed, on his U.S. Senate letterhead, Washington, April 15, 1959, to Calvin H. Raullerson, Director of Education of the United Negro College Fund, praising the Fund as a success story. “I want to express my appreciation for your hospitality throughout our visit to Indianapolis. I particularly want to thank you for meeting us at the airport and to apologize for the late hour of our arrival. It was a distinct pleasure to participate with so distinguished a group of leaders in the convocation. Everyone connected with your group can be well pleased with the outstanding job the Fund is doing in the fields of education and human relations. I feel that Indianapolis is a richer and more outstanding community as a result of being the site of your convocation. My congratulations to you all and all the staff members of the United Negro College Fund.”

We obtained this letter from the Raullerson descendants, and it has never before been offered for sale.

Our research failed to disclose any letters of Kennedy on this subject and showed that this is the first letter of Kennedy endorsing the Fund, and it was made right when he decided to get involved. As President, Kennedy again lined up behind the UNCF and its goals, assuring it of the “continuing personal interest in your undertaking.”

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services