“If at any point over the coming days, weeks, and months to come, you find yourself confused as to how to navigate the thicket of pictures of Nelson Mandela coming at you in every country in the world, bear in mind this salient fact of history: it was once illegal in South Africa to have a picture of Nelson Mandela in your home.”
“On the plane back to Washington, in her pink Chanel suit, caked with her husband’s blood, Jackie Kennedy resisted all suggestions from aides that she clean herself up. Instead, she just said, “Let them see what they’ve done.”
But for the half century since John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, the most famous artifact from that day, one of the most recognizable articles of clothing ever worn, has been seen by almost no one. Now preserved by the National Archives in a climate-controlled vault outside of Washington, it is subject to Kennedy family restrictions that it not be seen for almost a century more .
If there is a single item that captures both the shame and the violence that erupted that day, and the glamour and artifice that preceded it, it is Jackie Kennedy’s bloodstained pink suit, a tantalizing window on fame and fashion, her allure and her steely resolve, the things we know about her and the things we never quite will.”
"I was in the eighth grade in Andalusia, Ala. 1963 was a tense, emotional time in the South. George Wallace made his stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama against black students’ enrolling. President Kennedy had mobilized the Alabama National Guard to get Wallace out of the door and the students through it. To say that Kennedy was not beloved in most of white Alabama would put it mildly. When our principal announced Kennedy’s death, what I remember most clearly is an outburst of celebratory shouting from some students in my school’s hallway. I remember seeing boys running up and down the hall, some shouting, ‘The South’s gonna rise again!’ I think that’s my clearest memory because I was shocked that people could be glad of anyone’s death, much less the president’s death. It was just so jarring."
Tom Brokaw, 73, New York
Special correspondent, NBC News
"I was the morning news editor at KMTV in Omaha. I walked back into the newsroom from the studio as a colleague burst through the door shouting something about “shots being fired at the president in Dallas.” I raced to the now clanging wire machines, ripped off Merriman Smith’s memorable dispatch and broke into local programming — a garden show. Nebraska was not Kennedy country, and after I read the first dispatch, I ran into a crusty old technician who never hid his conservative views. He asked what was going on and I said, ‘Someone shot the president.’ He said, ‘It’s about time someone shot that S.O.B.’ I lunged for him, but a calmer colleague got me back on my job. I continued to update until the network took over. It was a day that ended my innocence.”
In a short by Errol Morris, November 22, 1963, Josiah “Tink” Thompson, the author of Six Seconds in Dallas — "one of the best books written about the assassination" — looks at the photographic evidence.
After receiving his Ph.D from Yale and becoming an assistant professor of philosophy at Haverford, “Tink left academia and became a private detective in Northern California. Now he has returned to what has haunted him for 50 years: Frame #313 of the Zapruder film, and our inability to come up with a definitive account of what happened in Dallas.”
The JFK assassination inaugurated an era of nihilism and paranoia in pop culture that endures 50 years later
“Of all the half-cocked theories that have emerged in the past 50 years to account for what really happened at 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963 in a plaza in the west end of Dallas, Texas, the best comes courtesy Stephen Colbert.
In a third-season episode of the Comedy Central sitcom Strangers with Candy, Colbert’s high-school history teacher offers the following, wildly irresponsible, probably totally inaccurate appraisal of syphilis: “Historically, syphilis is right up there with the German. It wiped out the Romanovs. It decimated our fleet at Pearl Harbor. And of course, Fidel Castro impersonated Marilyn Monroe and gave President Kennedy a case of syphilis so severe that eventually it blew the back of his head off.” Of course. …
More remarkable than the Kennedy assassination’s reclamation in comedy is the larger sense that it hasn’t been recuperated at all. President Kennedy’s death remains an open wound, a structuring trauma of the past five decades. And it’s not just the passing of the president, the crumbling of Camelot, and all that. It’s the idea of paranoia and conspiracy that so many people have latched onto. A new History Channel documentary, JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide, premiering November 22, reveals that a remarkable 80 percent of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the sole mastermind of the assassination, buying the alleged killer’s line that he was a patsy. Four out of five Americans side with Oswald.”