Added by on 2013-11-04

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With the 1960 presidential election just days away, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy made a telephone call that some historians say earned him an unprecendented amount of African-American support in the polls. Kennedy called Coretta Scott King, wife of the famed civil rights leader who had just been arrested for violating probation. Kennedy offered Coretta his support and provided encouraging words. King was released from jail a day later. This exclusive clip from PBS' upcoming JFK special provides context for that important phone call.

Next week, PBS will air JFK, a four-hour, two-part special on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

November 22 will mark the assassination’s 50th anniversary. In this exclusive clip from the upcoming special, civil rights leader Andrew Young describes what led then-candidate Kennedy to place a phone call to the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King weeks before the 1960 presidential election.

King had just been arrested on a sit-in demonstration in Atlanta and was being held on charges that he had allegedly violated his probation (from a previous arrest on driving without a Georgia driver’s license).

Kennedy’s call to Coretta and King’s eventual release reportedly helped him earn a “groundswell” of African-American support at the polls.

The special, which is a part of the channel’s “American Experience” president series, airs on Monday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 12 from 9 p.m – 11 p.m. ET on PBS.

Follow’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj