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Institute to present symposium on JFK next month

Profile image for By John D. Harden
By John D. Harden

The Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas has partnered with the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture to help create a program that explains in depth how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy changed Dallas.

The institute is presenting a symposium next month titled “Understanding Tragedy, The Impact of the JFK Assassination on Dallas.”

Other partnerships with the Dallas Institute include The Dallas Morning News, KERA TV and KERA-FM (90.1), the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

The event is Nov. 2 at the South Side Ballroom in Dallas. Tickets for the event, ranging from $25 to $300, went on sale this week.

The symposium will be not a tribute to or eulogy for Kennedy but rather an in-depth revisiting of what many consider to have been the most significant occurrence within the U.S. in the last half of the 20th century, officials said.

National keynote speakers include Jim Lehrer, Lawrence Wright, Nikky Finney, Stephen Carter and Richard Rodriguez. They will join a lineup of local leaders, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, to explore how Kennedy’s death affected Dallas from four perspectives.

Lehrer will lead the charge on journalism, Carter will discuss politics, Finney will focus on art and humanities, and Rodriguez will give an insight into religion.

“I can hardly wait to hear the answers — my own, as well as those of many others,” Lehrer said.

Thomas Huang, Sunday and Enterprise editor with The Dallas Morning News, will lead a special lunch program with Lehrer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Lawrence Wright, who will relate his personal experience of the assassination and its impact on him.

“The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture always helps us better understand the impact of important Dallas moments on our lives today,” Rawlings said. “They have created a lineup of extraordinary speakers and I’m looking forward to all of their insights regarding the 50th anniversary of this tragedy.”

Symposium hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

KERA’s Lee Cullum will moderate the morning session, with the keynote speakers looking at the assassination from a broad perspective.

The afternoon will kick off with breakout Focus Forums, during which each keynote speaker and a group of distinguished panelists from the Dallas-Fort Worth area will delve deeper into their subject areas and invite audience participation.

The day will culminate with smaller roundtable discussions among speakers, panelists and audience members. These roundtables are only available to all-day ticket holders.

Tickets are on sale at All tickets include a boxed lunch and complimentary parking.

When purchasing all-day tickets, audience members must select which Focus Forum and which roundtable they would like to attend.

All-day ticket holders will also have access to two panels presented by the Ochberg Society that will take place between noon and 2:30 p.m. at the Sixth Floor Museum on Nov. 1.

For more information on the panels, the speakers and the JFK Symposium, call 214-871-2440, or visit or

For information on the South Side Ballroom, visit

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.