North Texas Daily

History symposium discusses J.F.K. assassination

History symposium discusses J.F.K. assassination

April 19
11:37 2013

Alex Byrd

Staff Writer

Fifty years later, the assassination of John F. Kennedy still remains to be one of the most unfortunate stains on American history. However, with tragedy comes information and 20/20 hindsight.

UNT’s History Department plans to host The Seventh Annual Texas History Symposium 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Wooten Hall, room 122. The topic this year is entitled, “50 Years Since the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.”

“I have been in the past and I feel that symposium is important because it focuses on just Texas history,” history department assistant Donna Morgan said. “It’s interesting to find out about all of the historians that aren’t that far away.”

The crowd often depends on the overall subject. The historic hanging in Gainesville, Texans and the Red River, Native Americans enduring Texas frontiers and reconstruction are just some of the topics of discussion for the past seven years.

“One of the most pivotal topics centered on reconstruction,” said Richard McCaslin, history professor and department chair. “The year that Bob Ray Sanders came, I learned that in celebration of Juneteenth in Fort Worth, black people would go to the zoo in the morning and pool in the afternoon as a tradition because it was the only legal time they could go every year.”

The guest speakers are usually the biggest draw to the symposiums every year. This year, Dr. James Giglio and James Leavelle will both speak about their expertise on the subject of the 35th president. Topics of the day will include Giglio’s “My Odyssey with John F. Kennedy” and Leavelle’s “Just Doing My Job: JFK & Lee Harvey Oswald.”

“This event is open to the public and Old Red Museum, Texas State Historical Association, Fort Worth Regional Archive, Portal to Texas History will all present at the event with booths and information all day,” said Marie Watkins, department of history event coordinator.

From 1 to 2 p.m., Leavelle, a former Dallas Texas homicide detective, will speak to the public about his experience the day of the assassination, what it was like to be the first to question the then-suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald and being handcuffed to the suspect at the time Oswald was murdered.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Leavelle,” McCaslin said.

Leavelle, a Pearl Harbor survivor, was handcuffed to Oswald when the nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, shot him while leaving the Dallas Police Headquarters. He is coming ready to autograph the infamous, Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald for a fee of $10 after his discussion, and all of the proceeds will be presented to the Dallas Police Department.

“Gus Seligmann and Donald Chipman helped get this idea off the ground,” McCaslin said. “For a long time, the history department had two focal points – Texas and military history. Military history had a symposium, and seven years ago we added Texas history to the list.”

UNT students are granted free admission, $10 for faculty and staff, $15 for high school and middle school students, and $25 for adults to register. Randy White’s Bar-B-Que is back again to present lunch for everyone registered.

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