Past Programs

Past 2019 Programs

  • The Sixth Floor Museum paid tribute to both the Museum’s thirtieth anniversary and the fifty-fifth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. These special milestones were marked by a newly commissioned work “The Sixth Floor” written by award-winning Texas composer Jesus Martinez and performed by the Julius Quartet. Arranged in three movements, “Sniper’s Perch,” “A Nation in Crisis” and “The Legacy,” Martinez’s composition is a stirring journey from the darkest days of 1963 to a deeper understanding of the enduring legacy of President Kennedy and what lies beyond. View this program on YouTube.

  • Successful American leaders have always understood, respected -- and sometimes feared -- the power of the media in shaping and shifting public opinions and perceptions. For more than a hundred years, magazine publishers and politicians have had a symbiotic relationship. From Lincoln to Kennedy and beyond, an American president’s appearance on a magazine cover has generated increased sales and readership for the publication and heightened public awareness of the president’s platform and policies.   On Monday, March 25, the Museum presented The Power of the Magazine Cover: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with Dr. Samir Husni. Known as Mr. Magazine™ and regarded as one of the nation’s foremost experts on print journalism, Dr. Husni took us on a journey through the history of American magazines, including the role magazine covers played in cementing the enduring mystique and legacy of President Kennedy. Perhaps the most photographed American president in history, President Kennedy appeared on magazine covers throughout his lifetime and over the past fifty-five years since his death.   This special program included admission to the Museum’s temporary exhibit 55 Years, an installation of magazine covers featuring President Kennedy from 1963 to 2018. While President Kennedy’s image and influence have continued to be the focus of magazine articles over the years, 55 Years visually conveys how the symbolic memorialization of the 35th president has evolved over time. View this program on YouTube.
  • Bobbie Wygant joined Texas' first television station, WBAP-TV, in 1948, two weeks before it went on the air. During her remarkable and trailblazing career, spanning seventy years in broadcasting, Wygant interviewed thousands of notable entertainers and celebrities from Bette Davis to Charley Pride to Bradley Cooper. In 1960, she became the first woman in the southwest to host and produce a general interest talk show. Her popular midday program, Dateline, was live on the air when news broke of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963—which was also Wygant's birthday.

    This special program included a wine reception, complimentary parking and admission to the Museum’s temporary exhibit 55 Years, an installation of magazine covers featuring President Kennedy from 1963 to 2018. While President Kennedy’s image and influence have continued to be the focus of magazine articles over the years, 55 Years visually conveys how the symbolic memorialization of the 35th president has evolved over time.

  • Born and raised in the South during a time when racial segregation was the norm, former New York Times journalist John N. Herbers witnessed and covered landmark civil rights uprisings that rocked the country, the world and his own conscience. A leading civil rights journalist for more than a decade, Herbers wrote from behind the front lines, risking his own personal safety to bring awareness to the nation of the injustices and violence inflicted on African Americans. On October 4, Herbers’ daughter, Washington journalist Anne Farris Rosen, discussed Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist, the book she co-wrote with her father. This memoir provides riveting details about watershed events in the civil rights movement -- the execution of Willie McGee, murder trial of Emmett Till, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Birmingham church bombing, Freedom Summer murders in Mississippi and Selma riots – as well as Herbers’ encounters with both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Ku Klux Klan. Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist was the closing program for the temporary exhibit 55 Years, an installation of magazine covers featuring President Kennedy from 1963 to 2018 that showcased how the memorialization of the President evolved over time.
  • Thrust overnight into the center of an international tragedy, Ruth 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, Ruth will share her story at the Museum, joining Curator Stephen Fagin in conversation as she reflects on her friendship with Marina Oswald and how the legacy of the Kennedy assassination continues to impact her life.

      A housewife living in Irving, Texas, Ruth Paine met Lee and Marina Oswald at a party in February 1963. Seven months later, when the Oswald marriage began to falter, Marina and her children moved into Ruth’s home. As a Quaker, Paine was opposed to weapons, and it wasn’t until the afternoon of November 22, 1963 that she learned Oswald had hidden his rifle in her garage.   Paine’s friendship with Marina and her proximity to Lee has placed her at the heart of this historic event; the aftermath of the events of 1963 still affect her today. In 2009, the City of Irving purchased her former home and restored it to its 1963 appearance, where it is now open to the public as a historic museum.
  • While many over the years have pondered Oswald’s motive, clinical psychologist Dr. Gene Riddle took a different tack - analyzing how Oswald became a person capable of assassinating a president. Over the course of six years, Dr. Riddle conducted an in-depth study of Lee Harvey Oswald as part of a book-length project for the Professional School of Psychology in Sacramento.

    Dr. Gene Riddle was in the fall term of his senior year at a county high school just outside Washington D.C. at the time of the deaths of John Kennedy, J. D. Tippit, and Lee Harvey Oswald. A licensed clinical psychologist in California, with a 1997 PhD from the San Francisco campus of the Professional School of Psychology, Riddle became fascinated with the psyche of Lee Harvey Oswald and spent more than six years compiling a professional book-length study of him. Prior to entering the mental health profession, Dr. Riddle attained BA and MA degrees in Political Science and taught undergraduate political science courses at the University of Colorado, Denver.
  • Join us for the world premiere of “Three Hours in Dallas,” 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 a percussion ensemble from Arlington’s Sam Houston High School, this unique immersive experience exemplifies President Kennedy’s affinity for the arts.


    Linking the arts to the historic events of November 22, 1963, this cross-generational project spans 56 years. The composer was born in 1987, and the performers were born in the early 2000s. The film score is meant to link 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."

      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.
  • 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 on the anniversary of the assassination. Join us for this free Distance Learning Spotlight Session, followed by a moment of silence to recognize the 56th anniversary of the assassination at 12:30 p.m.


    This Living History conversation, moderated by Museum Curator Stephen Fagin, will be enhanced with images and video footage from the Museum collections.

    An award-winning broadcast journalist, Bill Mercer is a Dallas Press Club Living Legend and a member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. As a broadcaster with CBS affiliate KRLD Radio and Television in Dallas in 1963, Mercer covered the breaking news of the Kennedy assassination, reporting live from Dallas police headquarters. At a midnight press briefing on November 22, 1963, Mercer was the one to initially inform suspect Lee Harvey Oswald that he had been formally charged with the murder of President Kennedy.   Mercer is co-author of the memoir When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963. As part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Mercer taught a semester-long course on the Kennedy assassination at Duke University.   Well-known as a sportscaster and play-by-play announcer, Mercer was the voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, the University of North Texas, Southwest Conference and Chicago White Sox. An internationally popular wrestling announcer, Mercer spent more than 35 years as a broadcast journalism professor at the University of North Texas.