Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times

Forty SMU undergraduates have a unique opportunity to capture the zeitgeist of a turbulent time as the nation prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22. SMU political science Professor Dennis Simon and senior English lecturer Tom Stone in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences are teaching a special course during fall 2013 that examines the life, times and legend of JFK.

The students and professors are blogging about their experiences here. Learn more about SMU’s experts and archival collections related to the presidency and assassination at smu.edu/JFK.

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Examining JFK for myself

An update from Garrett, a sophomore economics and political science major:

As a third-generation Dallas native, I have grown up with my grandparents’ vivid memories of the Kennedy assassination and the impact that it had upon them and this city. Furthermore, as an African American, I also grew up very aware that JFK was well respected in the black community. As I got older, we began to study JFK in school and I encountered more information about his policies and his presidency. Additionally, I became more aware about the often-hyped scandals surrounding Kennedy’s personal life, such as his father’s mob connections as well as JFK’s philandering lifestyle, particularly his relationship with Marilyn Monroe.

However, aside from what was required in school, I never really had much of a personal interest in Kennedy until recently. I took all of these depictions of Kennedy with a grain of salt. Much like his death, Kennedy’s life is often depicted with an element of uncertainty. With all of the attention in Dallas surrounding the anniversary of his assassination, I was curious to discover why Kennedy was such a big deal. Because of the way he died, because he’s a Kennedy, I don’t know if we will ever really get to know the real Kennedy.

Nevertheless, I think studying Kennedy can get us very close. Every depiction of Kennedy is simply who Kennedy was to that person, or what kind of person they want to portray Kennedy as. Examining the variety of images of Kennedy that we study in class is causing me to form my own image of Kennedy for the first time in my life.

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