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JFK Blown Away

On Friday November 22, 1963, John F Kennedy (JFK), a very popular Roman Catholic American President from New England was fatally shot while driving in a car in Dallas, Texas at 12:30 PM. He had been in Texas on a campaign visit, and went through Dealey Plaza on his way to Downtown Dallas. Dozens of people witnessed as several shots were fired - one completely taking out a large part of JFK's head. This rather gory event was captured in the immortal 'Zapruder Film'.

A commission was brought together to investigate this, called the Warren Commission, after Earl Warren, who headed it. Officially, the assassin was considered to be Lee Harvey Oswald, who supposedly shot Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository. During a prison transfer, Oswald was murdered (on National Television) by Nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

However, the conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin has been largely discredited. The 'Kennedy Conspiracy' is an issue of international interest, even today. Countless conspiracy theories, including Lyndon B Johnson (the President's successor), the US Central Intelligence Agency, angry Cuban exiles, Fidel Castro, the mafia, the KGB and Israelis, have been put forward. So far, no theory has been proved conclusively. Some of these theories are explored in Oliver Stone's film, JFK.

Many think that Kennedy's assassination ended the innocence of America. Furthermore, Kennedy is considered to be a great President, in many ways, and his death destroyed all of the potential JFK had to give to the US. No one knows what could have been.

Brooklyn has a winning team

In 1955, and for many years before, New York City had three teams. The Dodgers were Brooklyn's team. The Yankees reigned in the Bronx and the Giants were traditionally associated with Manhattan. These three teams were often the three best in baseball. A World Series between two New York Teams was often called a 'subway series' because of NYC's association with the subway.

After years, intense rivalries formed. The Giants versus Dodgers playoffs were often more dramatic than the World Series! Almost inevitably, though, the Yankees would win the World Series, year after year. In 15 years, the Dodgers had faced the Yankees in the World Series, and lost everytime.

In 1955, the Dodgers captured the National League Pennant which meant they would go on to face the Yankees in the World Series again. The Dodgers lost the first two games to the powerful Yankees, and it seemed to most people that the Dodgers couldn't win. At the time, no team had ever come from a two game deficit in the World Series to win the championship. However, young pitcher Johnny Podres kept the Yankees from winning Game Three with a 2-0 shutout. That, combined with a bit of luck, drove the Dodgers to win Games Four, Five and Seven, winning them the World Series title.

The Dodgers fans were beyond ecstatic. They danced in the streets. It was the first time that their team won and finally ended the reign of the 'Damn Yankees' and the idea of their invincibility.

Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio was one of the greatest and most popular baseball players ever. During his time with the New York Yankees, from 1936 to 1951, DiMaggio was one of the most famous people in the world. After he retired, he married Marilyn Monroe in 1954, ensuring his presence as an idol for many years.

Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle was truly one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He followed fellow New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio as one of the cultural icons of the time. Playing from 1951 to 1969, he is in the Baseball Hall of Fame and today still holds many records.

'Little Rock'

The first public school in a southern state to have the Brown vs Board of Education decision enforced in it was Little Rock Central High, in Arkansas. It was not willing to integrate, but was much less stubborn than other school districts. Little Rock had a reputation of being a better place for African-Americans to live in the south, than the alternatives. The Little Rock Central High school district was the first in the south to allow integration, though there was certainly a great deal of resistance.

Seventeen students were selected to integrate the High School, but eight decided not to because of threats and harassment. The remaining nine are now known as the Little Rock Nine. They were-

  1. Ernest Green
  2. Elizabeth Eckford
  3. Jefferson Thomas
  4. Terrence Roberts
  5. Carlotta Walls Lanier
  6. Minnijean Brown Trickey
  7. Gloria Ray Karlmark
  8. Thelma Mothershed-Wair
  9. Melba Pattillo Beals

Many white people, including the 'Mothers League of Little Rock Central High School'1 tried to prevent integration. They tried to get an injunction to prevent this, but the Brown vs Board of Education decision was clear.

On September 3, 1957, the first day of school, the nine children tried to go into the school, Arkansas' Governor, Orval Faubus (who was considered a moderate and not against integration, but needed votes for his next term, which would come mostly from white people) put National Guardsmen around the school to prevent the Little Rock Nine from entering. He announced that if they tried to enter, 'blood would run in the streets'. They were not able to enter the school on the first day.

On the second day, Daisy Bates of the NAACP called eight of the children and told them that they would walk in together. However, one of the students, Elizabeth Eckford, didn't have a phone, and tried to enter the school alone. The mob around her might have killed her, but two white people protected her and she escaped without entering the school. The other eight were denied enterance as well.

Finally on September 23, the Little Rock Nine finally went into the school. A judge had ordered that Governor Faubus couldn't use state troops to impede a Federal order. President Eisenhower convinced the Governor to use the National Guard to protect the students, but he dismissed them when he returned. Faubus agreed to let the order be carried out, but he hoped that the Nine students would wait to integrate until the mob died down. The children were able to go into the school through the side enterance, which the mob did not expect. The police were unwilling to control the mob, but the children got in quickly.

Later, President Eisenhower sent in the 101rst Airborne Division to protect the students. They controlled the mob easily, and each of the Little Rock Nine felt a tremendous amount of pride when they went in the front enterance without a problem. They continued on the school year, the early part of which protected by the 101rst. They were even assigned a personal guard each to walk them from class. Of course, they encountered a great deal of hostility, and couldn't be protected at all times by their own soldier. Melba Pattillo in particular was given a great deal of problems. Dynamite was thrown at her, and acid was splashed in her eyes2.

The 101rst withdrew later though, and the students had to fend for themselves. Minnijean Brown was suspended in December for dumping a lunch tray on a white child's head who was taunting her3. She was then expelled for calling a child 'white trash' who was taunting her. The other eight finished the school year successfully. Ernest Green was the first minority student to graduate that high school. He was the only African-American of his class of 602 students to graduate. He recalls that when he was given his diploma, there was an eery silence.

Still, it was proved that it was possible that even African-Americans could get a good education in a world that discriminated against them. Two of the students would follow Green, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls Lanier in graduating from Central High.

1Which interesting, had only a few actual parents of Central High students.2And if their soldier hadn't cleaned her eyes, she might have been blind forever.3Ernest Green would later say that this child reminded him of a small, yelping dog.

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