Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kennedy and King,1963

Theme ~ My 50 Years in America 

In the summer of 1963, while I was happily frolicking in the great waves of the Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey shore, eating ice cream and checking out young guys on the beach, not too far away, the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom took place.

About 200,000 to 300,000 people attended the march on Washington that August. It is estimated that 75-80% of those in attendance were black. The march has been credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

On August 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, calling for an end to racism in the United States.

Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Charlton Heston at the Lincoln Memorial during the march.

I want to pause for a moment here and pay tribute to those who marched, those who fought, and those who died for freedom. Those were great people, true American heroes. 

The March on Washington brought a powerful message to America; non-violence has a power like nothing else. We watched on our TV screens, where none of us had ever seen that many black people assembled before, nor had we ever heard a speech about the need to end racism in America as powerful as the one Dr. King gave that August day. 

These events affected me deeply and made me more aware and also interested, on a deeper level, in the plight of African Americans. From that summer on, I took a proactive stand on the issue of civil rights for everyone. 

At the end of summer, I got a "real" job, working for an economics professor at Princeton. Our President was young and life in America seemed full of hope and promise. Then on November 22nd that year, I was in a phone booth in the Forrestal Library on the Princeton campus, calling Mrs. Forrey, the woman I had worked for earlier, about something. She said, "the President has been shot!" It didn't connect, so I dumbly asked, "which president?" "President Kennedy!" she exclaimed. I know that all of you, who were alive that day, remember where you were when you heard this dreadful news. And that's where I was; students were crying, cars were stopped on Nassau Street, people listening to their car radios.  On TV, Walter Cronkite announced that the President had died, then took off his glasses and wiped his eyes. 

And the events that followed will be forever etched in my memory.

Black Jack, the riderless stallion that took part in the President's State Funeral.

And the photo we will always remember.

Source: Wikipedia photos.


  1. Inger
    Another monumental post. Charlton Heston..... Yay yay.... a true American patriot.

  2. that last photo is stuck forever in my memory and most Americans. that was one of the most horrible things ever to happen in our country. i had to smile when you said you got a REAL job...

  3. I remember that day to the news was filled with your presidents death something felt all around the world. It was as much an important part of our history just as Mr. Kings speech. You have a rich history in your new country. Love your memories what a great life you have had so far. B

  4. My mum wasn't borneded yet but her heard stories from peoples dat rememebers it and of course from school.
    Mum seen some of da footage of da news and stuffs and it be amazin' dat thought hers wasn't alive, da chord in her heart it struck when JFK died.
    And MLK Jr....just a beautiful man.


  5. I do remember exactly where I was that day Kennedy was shot. I was with my friend Sylvia and we couldn't belief that something like that could really truly happen.

  6. Another beautiful and fascinating post, Inger. I was so young that I don't remember learning that the president had been killed, but I remember the funeral procession playing over and over on our snowy black-and-white TV. My dad explained the significance of the riderless horse to me.


  7. I remember it all--I couldn't believe I could still cry about it, but I did!!

  8. I was in high school, in Canada, when the vice-princpial announced President Kennedy's death over the speaker system. I don't remember what happened after that.

    And I remember using part of MJK's speech in a chapel service at a prison one time.

    Another great post, Inger. Brings back memories,

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

  9. I wasn't around yet when Kennedy was shot, but heard the stories of Mom and Dad. Mom was working in a factory, it was always noisy. They cut the power to all the machines to make the announcement, and she said it was the eeriest quiet she'd ever heard. Dad was in the Navy, and they made the ship go into a circle, to wait for further orders, since they didn't know what might occur.

    Scary time.


  10. I wasn't alive at this time but my parents talked so much about it. The 60s must have been a fascinating decade to live through, both because of the monumental changes and the terrible tragedies.

  11. YES ~~~ I was in grade school 8th, I remember and we were told. I left the school and walked downtown, in my small university town and just watched all the people. They were all talking about Kennedy. The world changed that day forever.


  12. Boy did this post bring back many memories. I can still see my mom's face when she told me that President Kennedy was shot...

  13. In many ways, the end of innocence.

  14. Like you say, those of us who were around will never forget those days. I was in D.C. when Kennedy's casket was carried down Pennsylvania Avenue by horse-drawn wagon. Very eerie. There were so many people lining the street, but it was so quiet, all we could hear was the steady "clop, clop" of the horse's hooves.

  15. I am reading blogs backwards today, another great post.

  16. WOW! Inger, you can sure get me going! This is an incredible post and I thank you for being direct, sincere and honest in presenting these facts of history in a thoughtful manner. I remember I was in grade 10. A lot of the teachers there were American nuns from Boston. And on this day we could hear them crying out in the hallways. I will never forget that day and the funeral. 'Things' took an abrupt turn that day in a number of directions.
    Very powerful post.

  17. Hi Inger - you were certainly around when America was changing .. and saw a great deal of life ...

    I know exactly where I was when Kennedy was shot .. and yes those images ... I've seen since very often - I was at school and I doubt we saw the funeral ceremony - I don't remember .. I don't think my school house at tv then ...

    Cheers Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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