SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Friday, here at home and around the world, people will take time to remember John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Thursday, ABC40’s Dave Madsen had a chance to speak with ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts about that day, the public’s fascination with the Kennedys and what would have been if JFK had lived.
Roberts was a senior at Wellesley College just outside of Boston in November of 1963. She remembers the 22nd like it was yesterday.
“My mother called and told me the President had been shot and killed. She was in the Capitol in the House Majority Whip’s office, my father was whip and Congress was not in session and she remembered being there, almost alone in the Capitol and getting the call and then she called me”, says Roberts.
Cokie Roberts’ father, Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs, was a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the President’s assassination, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin and there was no conspiracy.
Now, 50 years after his death, we asked her about the continued fascination with John Kennedy.
Roberts recalls, “Remember the time. He came in in 1960 after eight very sleepy years of the Eisenhower administration. He was the first President born in the 20th century and he was smart and he was funny and he was handsome. And he had this gorgeous wife and these precious babies and it was if the country went from black and white to color. And for those of us who were young people it was so exciting. We sort of look back on it as a rosy time. We always look back through rose colored glasses, but in this case there’s a certain amount of truth to it.”
[It does make you wonder what might have been had November 22, 1963 never happened.]
“Of course, everybody does wonder that. I personally think that in some ways a very good thing came out of it, which was the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, which I don’t think Jack Kennedy could have done in a million years. I think it took the savvy of Lyndon Johnson to get that done. And it also took the assassination and the sense of doing something for the martyred President that helped get the civil rights bill through,” Roberts explains.
Roberts added that there was no reason to assume that JFK would have been re-elected in 1964. He was having a very tough time in the south, which was the reason he was in Texas in the first place.