National Defense and Education Act – The Sputnik success also led to a critical comparison of the American educational system with that of the USSR. Late in 1958 the National Defense and Education Act authorized $887 million in loans to needy college students and in grants for the improvement of teaching the sciences and languages.
March on Washington – Kennedy was slow in taking on the passage of a Civil Rights Bill, because he needed the support of Southern Democrats to pass his economic and social legislation. However, Freedom Riders took up the cause and worked to end segregation on buses, who Washington dispatched federal marshals to protect. The Kennedy administration joined hands with the civil rights movement, and in October 1962 federal troops were called in to enroll James Meredith in the University of Mississippi. In August, MLK led 200,000 black and white demonstrators on a peaceful March on Washington in support of the proposed legislation, while on June 11, 1963, Kennedy delivered a televised speech to the nation calling the situation a “moral issue.”