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SMU’s Tower Center and George W. Bush Presidential Library partner with Sixth Floor Museum in observance of JFK anniversary

November 21, 2012

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will work in concert with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination with a yearlong series of public programs in 2013-14.

JFK motorcade in DallasThe series will begin with “The Politics of Memory” on President’s Day 2013 (Feb. 18, 2013) and end on President’s Day 2014 (Feb. 17, 2014) with “Coping With Crises: How Presidents Manage National Crises,” a program sponsored with the Sixth Floor Museum and the Bush Library and Museum.

Other programs examining the legacies of the Kennedy presidency and its impact on American domestic and foreign policy are planned for the months leading up to Nov. 22, 2013– the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination while traveling by motorcade through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.

SMU is working through a special committee of distinguished SMU faculty members and guests known as the Tower Center Working Group on Remembrance and Commemoration:  The Life and Legacy of JFK.  The John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies is part of SMU’s Dedman College of the Humanities and Sciences.

SMU Receives Iconic Photo

Members of the Dallas Press Club were cleaning out their storage unit last winter when a large photograph caught their attention.

Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson
It was a picture of the moment when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police headquarters on November 24, 1963. Taken by former SMU student Bob Jackson (1952-57), who was working for The Dallas Times Herald at the time, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for News Photography.

According to Dallas Press Club President Liz Oliphant, Jackson donated the photograph to the Club shortly after the assassination.

Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald“The photo hung in the Press Club for a long time,” says Oliphant. “When we no longer had club facilities — around 2005 — it went into storage along with many other mementos. When we discovered the photo, we donated it to the Journalism Division at Meadows.”

Professor and Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism Tony Pederson says the photograph has historic significance.

“When you think about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, there are certain images that are iconic in terms of representing what happened in those days in Dallas and this is one of them,” says Pederson. “The image is extremely violent, but it does represent in a very real and graphic way an awful time in the history of the city of Dallas and of the United States.

“This photo also marks a time of significance in news coverage. It changed journalism in Dallas; it was the first Pulitzer Prize won by a Dallas newspaper. It was taken during a time when television was coming of age as a medium, and it did in those three or four days as events unfolded. It created an awareness of professional journalism.”

Read the full story.

The committee is led by Dennis Simon, SMU political science associate professor, a fellow in the Tower Center and director of the Tower Center program on American Politics. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum Director Alan Lowe is a member of the committee, as is Jeffrey Engel, founding director of SMU’s new Center for Presidential History and associate professor in the Williams P. Clements Department of History.

The working group includes:

  • William Bridge, SMU associate professor in the Dedman School of Law
  • Lee Cullum, journalist and Tower Center fellow
  • Kenneth Hamilton, SMU associate professor in the William P. Clements Department of History and director of ethnic studies in Dedman College
  • James Hollifield, SMU professor of political science and Arnold Fellow of International Political Economy, director of the Tower Center and chair of the Sixth Floor Museum Board
  • Rita Kirk, director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU and a professor in the Division of Communication Studies
  • Thomas Knock, SMU associate professor of history and member of the board of trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
  • Ruth Morgan, former SMU provost and professor emerita of political science
  • Daniel Orlovsky, SMU professor of history and SMU’s George A. Bouhe Research Fellow in Russian Studies
  • Tom Stone, SMU senior English lecturer who teaches courses that view the assassination through the works of writers, artists and scholars.

“SMU is looking forward to bringing an academic and scholarly orientation to the observance of this somber anniversary,” Simon said.  “The Tower Center has a history of productive partnerships with the National Archives and Records Administration and presidential libraries, as well as with the Sixth Floor Museum. We are excited about the opportunity to reexamine the life and legacy of JFK and to help commemorate this tragic event.”

The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which houses the Presidential Library and Museum, will be dedicated in late April 2013.

Details of the JFK-related series will be released as they become available.

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