On April 25, 1960, John F. Kennedy brought his presidential campaign to Williamson, West Virginia. During the early 1960 race campaign, the primary in West Virginia was closely watched by the Democratic Party. During his campaign, religious bigotry was one of the main challenges to Kennedy’s bid for United States president. With a 95 percent protestant base, West Virginia would show if this challenge could be defeated.
John F. Kennedy was scheduled to speak in front of the Williamson courthouse plaza during his campaign trail throughout the state of West Virginia. During his time in Williamson, photos show Kennedy shaking hands with community members around town. According to WV Archives, the speech in Williamson was attended by hundreds of people.
On May 10, 1960 during the West Virginia primary election, Kennedy won the state. Again showing, West Virginia to be a strong, kind, fair, and diverse state. Kennedy credited this victory with securing his Democratic Party nomination for President.
“I would not be where I now am, I would not have some of the responsibilities which I now bear, if it had not been for the people of West Virginia,” said President John F. Kennedy on June 20, 1963.
Other presidential candidates have traveled to Williamson, but John F. Kennedy’s campaign time here is still thought of as one of the shining moments in political history for the small town.