June 11, 2020

President Kennedy’s Report to the American People on Civil Rights, June 11, 1963

Fifty-seven years ago on June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered an impromptu Report to the American People on Civil Rights, broadcast on both radio and television. This speech, while in part a reaction to riots in Birmingham, Alabama, marked the beginning of a dramatic shift in the president’s response to the civil rights movement. For him, no longer was this national issue a passing interest; it had a new focus and presidential commitment to set change in motion. President Kennedy sought much needed help from Martin Luther King Jr., and launched an appeal for national unity as resistance to desegregation fueled social unrest.

On the anniversary of this powerful speech, President Kennedy’s words remain ever more striking as they eerily magnify the unresolved civil rights legacies of that decade with the issues of racial injustice we continue to face today. The current outcry spilling across the nation and world are in reaction to yet another brutal and senseless murder of an African American, and the residual impact of a four-hundred-year-old legacy of systemic racial inequality.

President Kennedy’s words on June 11, 1963, defined equal rights as intrinsic human rights, declaring that it is an individual and collective moral duty to provide equality to African Americans. These words harnessed inspiration and the call for action from his inaugural Ask Not address and contrast with the state of the nation today. While progress has been made over the last six decades, change has been slow and gradual, and there is much left to be done. The last two weeks of peaceful protests across the country and around the world have awakened us, touched raw nerves and revealed unhealed wounds. They have inspired a world-wide movement to listen, engage, and confront the unspoken biases that have kept us apart.

Today, we at The Sixth Floor Museum re-dedicate ourselves to building stronger civic and community engagement for Dallas, and our fellow citizens. We pledge to hear, to listen to you and to our community. We pledge to offer a safe and open forum for discussion and examination of our shared and unshared history and the legacies of civil rights and social injustices today.

The commitment of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is to ensure that every aspect of our internal operational practices, our external forms of educational outreach, and our public programming and community engagement activities, all pave the path for social justice.

This is our commitment to building and maintaining a diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive museum for one and for all.

Nicola Longford, CEO + Board + Staff

November 12, 2019

Three Hours in Dallas: Film Premiere with Live Musical Score

Logo for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

DALLAS, TX – November 12, 2019: On Thursday, November 21, on the eve of the 56th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will premiere “Three Hours in Dallas,” an original musical score set to a new compilation of historic motorcade film footage. Written by award-winning composer, Jesus Martinez, “Three Hours in Dallas” will be performed by the percussion ensemble from Arlington’s Sam Houston High School.

This unique film score links sound effects and synchronized sound to specific scenes that will captivate the audience and create the sensation of personally witnessing the events of November 22, 1963. As President Kennedy himself said, “We must never forget…that art is not a form of propaganda…it is a form of truth.”

Through innovative community-based projects and collaborations, The Sixth Floor Museum brings its vast collections of historic films, photographs, oral histories and artifacts to new generations for learning and discovery. The Museum’s collaboration with thirty-two year-old composer and music educator, Jesus Martinez, has helped link the creative process of music composition and performance with valuable history lessons about local and world events beyond the walls of the traditional classroom—offering new insights for young students to capture their imaginations and connect the past with the present.

This unique evening performance will also include the premiere of “Stars in the Heart,” by Michael Varner, Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington, and “Metallic Origami” by Robert J. Frank, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory and Director of Electronic Music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

The featured compositions and performers represent several generations removed from the events of November 1963.

Three Hours in Dallas notes by composer Jesus Martinez

Three Hours in Dallas was commissioned by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film is a 16-minute compilation of both familiar and seldom-seen footage and photographs taken during the presidential motorcade on November 22, 1963. President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy spent exactly three hours and nine minutes in Dallas. The music for the film brings life to this silent compilation with key moments of historical audio exploring President Kennedy’s multigenerational initiatives. The live film score is written for percussion ensemble and solo trumpet. It is intended as a fully immersive sound experience as it takes you through the final three hours of President Kennedy’s life.

Stars in the Heart, notes by composer Dr. Michael Varner

Stars in the Heart is a composition constructed by translating specific letters into numbers using a “indeterminate system” suggested by my friend Nathan Daughtrey in a conversation. The resultant numbers are 5-6-9-2-4. The piece evolves using these numbers in every conceivable way as rhythm, scale pattern, and overall phrasing. Each player has a Temple Gong, Frying Pan, Resonant Wooden Slat, and Drum. The Temple Gongs, Frying Pans, Wooden Slats, and Congas should be graduated with Player 1 having the highest and Player 5 the lowest. Player 1 requires a 5-octave marimba as well as the unique Nigerian Talking drum.

Metallic Origami, notes by composer Dr. Robert Frank

Metallic Origami is a set of five short movements written for (mostly) metal instruments. Inspired by the ancient art of paper folding – origami – and the composer’s imagining of folded metal creations, each movement expresses in “folded sound” a representation of different origami shapes composed of different metals. Each movement is also based loosely on the poetic form of haiku, which have three terse, intense phrases in the pattern of five – seven – five syllables. As the work was being written, the composer wrote haiku to accompany each movement. Like the music in each movement, each verse seeks to see these familiar childhood paper-creations through the character of each of the chosen metals: bright stars of gold; a moving crane of silver, with folding wings and bending neck; the four-pointed “fortuneteller” formed from sheets of hardened steel; many-facetted snowflakes of brittle titanium; and a ferocious dragon cast in iron.

 

About Jesus Martinez

With a master’s degree in Music Composition from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from University of Texas at Arlington, Jesus Martinez has served as Composer-in-Residence for both the Alabama Orchestra Association and the Irving Symphony Orchestra. While at SMU, he studied primarily with composer Dr. Robert Frank and developed a special interest in film scoring and new music ensembles.

Martinez was commissioned to score the film “Mystery of Birds,” which premiered in Houston in 2011 and was selected to screen at the Los Angeles Black Film Festival. In 2012, the film won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Film by an African Living Abroad. Also in 2011, Martinez presented his 34-minute world premiere of “Threnody for 9/11 for Mixed Chamber Ensemble,” which received accolades in Texas print and broadcast media and a resolution in his name issued by the Texas State Legislature. Martinez scored the 2013 film “Take the Spotlight,” which premiered at four film festivals in Texas, Arkansas and Georgia, winning awards for best film and best director.

Most recently, Martinez composed “The Sixth Floor,” which premiered at the 30th anniversary of The Sixth Floor Museum on February 18, 2019.

The special concert will be held on Thursday, November 21, at 7:00 p.m. A pre-concert reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, and are available for advance purchase at jfk.org/the-museum/public-programs/

This program is part of a special four-part series in commemoration of the 56th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death.

FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER: 56th ANNIVERSARY PROGRAM SERIES, Nov. 19-22, 2019

Tuesday, November 19

The Last Days of Lee Harvey Oswald: A Conversation with Ruth Paine

Marina Oswald and her young children were staying with her friend, Ruth Paine, in November 1963. Thrust overnight into the center of an international tragedy, Paine still ponders a different outcome if she’d known Lee Harvey Oswald had stashed a rifle in her garage. For the first time ever, she will present a program at the Museum, reflecting on her friendship with Marina Oswald and how it continues to impact her life.

Presented in partnership with the City of Irving/Ruth Paine House Museum.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program

 

Wednesday, November 20

Toward a Psychological Understanding of Lee Oswald, Assassin

While many over the years have considered Oswald’s motive, clinical psychologist Dr. Gene Riddle took a different tack – analyzing how Oswald became a person capable of assassinating a president. Join us as he shares the results of his six-year study, examining the depth and breadth of Oswald’s psychological makeup and life experiences that led to November 22, 1963.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program

 

Thursday, November 21

Three Hours in Dallas: World Premiere

Three Hours in Dallas is an original musical composition scored to accompany an all-new compilation of historic motorcade film footage. Written by award-winning composer Jesus Martinez and performed by music students from Arlington’s Sam Houston High School, this unique immersive experience celebrates President Kennedy’s legacy of love for the arts.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program

 

Friday, November 22

56th Anniversary Program: Living History with Bill Mercer

Reporting live from police headquarters, KRLD broadcaster Bill Mercer was the first to inform Lee Harvey Oswald he had been charged with the murder of President Kennedy. A member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame and co-author of “When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963,” Mercer will interact with classrooms around the world and a live Museum audience. This Distance Learning Spotlight Session will be followed by a moment of silence.

11:30 a.m. program

12:30 p.m. moment of silence

For more information, visit jfk.org.

 

Contact Information

Nicola Longford
CEO
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
nicolal@jfk.org
Direct: 214.389.3001

About the Museum

Mission Statement: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.

Vision Statement: To be an impartial, multi-generational destination and forum for exploring the memory and effects of the events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy, through sharing his legacy and its impact on an ever-changing global society.

Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Monday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are included with admission and available in eight languages, including ASL. For more information, visit jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.

Admission: $18 Adult, $16 Senior, $14 Youth (children aged 5 and under are free or $5 with audio/ASL).

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September 5, 2019

In Memoriam: James R. “Jim” Leavelle, 1920 – 2019

Jim Leavelle (right) stands next to his friend, photographer Bob Jackson, at the opening of the special exhibit, A Photographer’s Story: Bob Jackson and the Kennedy Assassination, in 2009.

By Stephen Fagin, Curator

Dallas police homicide detective Jim Leavelle recognized the potential for danger on Sunday, November 24, 1963. As suspect Lee Harvey Oswald prepared to make the routine prisoner transfer from city custody at Dallas police headquarters to the Dallas County Jail, Leavelle made a remark that he would vividly recall for the remainder of his long and legendary life: “Lee, I hope if anybody shoots at you [that] they’re as good a shot as you are.”  Oswald, according to Leavelle, chuckled. It was the only time Leavelle ever saw the alleged assassin of President Kennedy crack a smile. And then, alongside detective L.C. Graves, they made their way downstairs to the basement of police headquarters and stepped into history.

The front page of the Dallas Times Herald on Monday, November 25, 1963, prominently featured the photograph that would later win the 1964 Pulitzer Prize. Ruth Marble Collection/The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

We lost our friend, James R. “Jim” Leavelle on August 29, 2019, just a few days following his 99th birthday. Around the world, people recognize the veteran Texas lawman because of a single photograph that captured a moment in time and came to embody the chaos, violence and uncertainty of a weekend that defined a generation.  Wearing a light-colored suit and cowboy hat, Leavelle twisted his body, still handcuffed to Oswald, with a look of shock and horror on his face. Jack Ruby, local Dallas nightclub owner, had leapt out from a crowd of reporters and shot Oswald at point-blank range. That iconic photograph, taken by Dallas Times Herald staff photographer Bob Jackson, would go on to win the 1964 Pulitzer Prize.

That moment may have made Jim Leavelle famous, but it was his extraordinary life, dry wit and wonderful storytelling that made him a living legend. In my personal experience, I have rarely encountered an assassination researcher, author or dedicated student of the subject who did not meet and visit with Jim Leavelle at some point. Many of them enjoyed lively meals with him at his favorite Dallas restaurant, El Fenix. To say that Jim was giving with his time is an understatement. He was dedicated to honoring interview, program and meeting requests, and he never tired of detailing the same stories over and over again for the benefit of history. Whether it was an audience of one, including at times young elementary school students, or an auditorium full of interested listeners, Jim Leavelle was a gifted storyteller.

He described the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald like this, during a 2002 oral history with the Museum:

I could see [Jack Ruby’s] pistol.  I saw all of that in a flash because remember, I’m alert for these guns because I’m expecting somebody to shoot at him anyhow but not necessarily in the basement….  Of course, I had Oswald right up against me, and I tried to pull him behind me, but all I succeeded in doing was turning his body, so that instead of hitting him dead center, it hit him just about four inches to the left of the navel.  Then, of course, by that time, the officers gathered around there had piled on him and pushed him to the ground.  I reached over and grabbed Ruby by the shoulder, by his left shoulder, and shoved back and down on him, but by the time that happened, the officers had swarmed on him and crushed him to the ground, and so I released him and returned my attention to Oswald….  And when the ambulance pulled in, why, we loaded him in the ambulance, and I crawled in there with him and so did the doctor, and we rode to Parkland with him. 

Jim never subscribed to conspiracy theories, and he often delighted in debating the topic with interested researchers. He even served as a technical consultant to filmmaker Oliver Stone during the making of his 1991 movie, JFK.  He described his on-set experience like this: “Well, I have found out what a technical advisor is.  When they ask you how a certain scene should be played or how it was done…you describe to them the setting of it. If it don’t suit their idea, they’ll go ahead and do it the way they want to.”  Years earlier, Jim even portrayed himself in the 1978 TV movie, Ruby and Oswald.

Jim Leavelle in December 2018 during his last visit to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, with Megan Bryant, Director of Collections & Interpretation, and Curator Stephen Fagin.

The Museum will sincerely miss our friend, Jim.  He was truly one of a kind. We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and we are grateful that he shared so many memories with us.

You can see a number of public programs featuring Jim Leavelle on our YouTube Channel.

August 20, 2019

The Sixth Floor Museum Names Kimberly Camuel Bryan Chief Philanthropy Officer

Logo for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

DALLAS, TX – August 20, 2019: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is pleased to announce that Kimberly Camuel Bryan is joining the Museum’s senior leadership team as Chief Philanthropy Officer. Bryan brings more than 15 years of development experience in the arts and cultural community to her new role, where she will oversee all aspects of institutional fundraising initiatives.

Prior to joining the Museum, Bryan spent 12 years with the Dallas Museum of Art on a director level in a variety of development positions, including Donor Circle Membership, Partners Program and Associate Director of Development. Her development experience also includes the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas-based TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

“Since its inception 30 years ago, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza has evolved beyond the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to become a multigenerational forum where students and visitors around the world can be inspired by the President’s legacy of civil rights, space and technology, the arts, volunteerism and more,” said Nicola Longford, Chief Executive Officer. “The Museum’s initiatives for the next 30 years are ambitious and community- focused, and the Chief Philanthropy Officer will play a key role in cultivating strong stakeholder relationships that ensure continued relevancy and sustainability.

“Kimberly has extensive experience with multi-million-dollar fundraising campaigns, but equally important is her proven commitment to the local cultural community,” added Longford. “Her leadership and insight will be invaluable as we continue to serve our diverse, growing audiences with engaging exhibits, compelling programs and interactive educational experiences.”

Contact Information
Laurie Ivy
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
lauriei@jfk.org
Direct: 214.389.3046

About the Museum

Mission Statement: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.

Vision Statement: To be an impartial, multi-generational destination and forum for exploring the memory and effects of the events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy, through sharing his legacy and its impact on an ever-changing global society.

Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Monday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are included with admission and available in eight languages, including ASL. For more information, visit jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.

Admission: $18 Adult, $16 Senior, $14 Youth (children aged 5 and under are free or $5 with audio/ASL).

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