Senior Center looks back on JFK’s presidency 55 years after his death

The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Tuesday morning. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

Commemorating his assassination 55 years later, the SCV Senior Center’s scholar series will take a look at President John F. Kennedy today.

“JFK had a lot of challenges in his short presidency that he wasn’t expecting,” said College of the Canyons professor Lissa Brassfield. “He thought foreign affairs working with the Soviet Union would be his main focus rather than domestic issues like civil rights.”

Brassfield, who presents each scholar series session, said this would be different from her previous session focused on the president’s brother and attorney general, Robert Kennedy. Along with the challenges of his short presidency, Brassfield said his assassination had a major impact on those who lived through it.

“Even when I do my ‘history of women’ class, I have my students interview a woman born before 1959, and it’s part of the paper to ask what historical events they remember,” Brassfield said. “The number one event that stands out is the assassination of JFK. To them, it really was a defining moment like 9/11.”

Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald, just a few years into his only term as president. Vice president Lyndon Johnson succeeded him, swearing in on Air Force One. Because of the conspiracies surround Kennedy’s death, Brassfield said it differs from the assassinations of the president’s brother and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There’s still a lot of thoughts on it,” she said.

As with prior scholar series sessions, Brassfield’s audience will have the chance to engage and discuss about the topic. She also said she has ideas planned for future presentations, including a look at the Freedom Riders during Black History Month and the life of Neil Armstrong, incorporated with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July.

The presentation will take place from 10-11 a.m. in rooms A1 and A2 on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The SCV Senior Center is located on 22900 Market Street.

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