Every one of us has a memory of what was going on in their life when President Kennedy was assassinated. These are my recollections.
When President Kennedy was assassinated I lived in a small community in southern Indiana, just a few miles from Louisville Kentucky. The area was called Kentuckiana. On this sunny 22nd day of the month of November, we were watching the motorcade carrying President Kennedy and the first lady as they were waving at the crowd straining to see them. The even tone of the news commentator as he described the mood of the moment suddenly changed into a mode of panic and disbelief. “The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy has been shot,” or words very similar came across my black and white television screen. I was stunned and deeply touched to the core of my being.
President Kennedy symbolized hope for the black community to finally be accepted as full citizens of this country and not the bastard children. There was probably not a home in the black community that did not have a picture of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hanging on the wall. There was racial tension in the air in this part of the country. Indiana was a Republican state and very conservative and the Ku Klux Klan was big in this state. At one time the KKK had controlled the Indiana legislature.
Here is a quote you might check out: “The Ku Klux Klan was against the Jews for traditional reasons: they had rejected Christ. They were against the Negro because of miscegenation. The Bible said it was wrong to mix blood. That is how Rome fell and, as Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
One year while I was in grade school, the head of the KKK played our Santa Claus. It was a time beginning with the emergence of what is known as the “Third Era Klan.” During this time of the 1960, the Klan murdered little girls in church on September 15, 1963 and some men working for CORE. Racial intolerance was irrational and blacks suffered economically from it, even in the military. That is not to say it doesn’t still exist.
That Most of the jobs held by blacks in the community were located in Louisville Kentucky. The chance for advancement for people of color was very small. Black people loved President Kennedy and they thought he was a man who would advance equal opportunity to the black man.
President Kennedy’s assassination seemed like something that was totally impossible to happen in 1963; the President was white. The last President killed in office, to my knowledge was President Lincoln- over the same question. Was President Kennedy killed for trying to help Black people? History was repeating itself. What we had thought as progress turns out to be malevolence in its purest sense. The pain of this event was deeply personal and the sense of helplessness was overwhelming.
President Kennedy was the leader we had all been waiting for to bring about the change that caused America to live up to the ideal – “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right,…” from the Declaration of Independence.