The assassination of John F. Kennedy

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John F. Kennedy is famous for his plans to put a man on the moon and his role as president during the Cold War. Besides that, he will be remembered by most as the president who got assassinated while driving an open limousine through Dealey Plaza in the state of Texas.

Kennedy was elected as president of the United States after a close victory on republican Richard Nixon in 1960. Racial inequality was still a big problem when Kennedy became president and the Civil Rights Movement was gaining more and more support from the public. Especially in the southern states there was still a lot of racism. Despite the inequality, the Civil Rights Movement did not get a lot of support from the president. He believed this was a matter for all states individually and not for the central government.

His foreign policy was focused on the Cold War. During the first 10 days of his presidential term he decided to send more troops to Vietnam in order to support the South-Vietnamese forces in their battle for freedom.

Kennedy was viewed by many as a gifted speaker. His speeches in Europe attracted large crowds. He held his most famous speech in Berlin on the balcony of Rathaus Schöneberg. Where he spoke the legendary words: “Ich bin ein Berliner”. Another classic saying from Kennedy:  “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Which was part of his inauguration speech.

During his term as president Kennedy had a huge impact on the space program by suggesting to the congress that they should spend more money on the program. The space race between the United States and Russia played an important role in the Cold War. Both wanted to be the first to put a man on the moon. With Neil Armstrong being the first man on the moon in 1969, the U.S. won that prestigious battle with the support of Kennedy.

On the 22th of November 1963 Kennedy was murdered while campaigning for the upcoming re-elections. He became the 4th murdered president in American history. Investigations suggested Lee Harvey Oswald as the man behind the attack. Lee’s motives never became clear as police never got the chance to question him. Lee was shot by club owner Jack Ruby in the police station. This happened in front of the cameras, as Lee was supposed to be moved to a maximum security prison. So the shooting was watched by many on live television.

His tragic death meant the end of his presidential term. Kennedy was and still is a popular president; his grave is next to the Pentagon. Visited by many to bring a tribute to one of the most famous presidents in the history of the United States. His name will continue to be remembered through the John. F. Kennedy airport in New York.

Literature

  1. John F. Kennedy library. November 22, 1963: Death of the President. http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/November-22-1963-Death-of-the-President.aspx?p=3
  2. Schlesinger, A.M. A thousand days: John F. Kennedy in the white house (2002). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Written by Pieter Klinkhamer

Bob Dylan: a living legend

Bob-Dylan-3

Bob Dylan is considered to be one of the biggest and most important artist in American History. Because of his value for American music culture he was rewarded with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. He received the medal from current president Barack Obama.

Dylan was born as Robert Allen Zimmerman on 24 May in Duluth, Minnesota. When Robert was five he and his parents moved to Hibbing, where he grew up to become a music minded teenager. As a young boy he would listen to as many radio stations as he could, growing up in south of America this meant he listened to a lot of blues and country music. Due to his brilliant memory for lyrics and melody he developed an amazing knowledge of music.

When Dylan reached the age of 20 he decided to move to New York, where he would play for his idol Woody Guthrie on his sickbed. Woody Guthrie was a famous and influential artist in the time Dylan grew up, writing songs about the struggle of the working class during the international financial crisis in the 1930’s. Dylan later stated that Woody was his inspiration to become a political and people orientated artist.

Although he was inspired by Woody, when Dylan arrived in New York he had no stance on the issues. It was his girlfriend Suze Rotolo that nudged him down the road as an activist singer. Suze was the daughter of union organizers and a volunteer for the Congress of Racial Equality. This would be later viewed as the start of Dylan’s period of writing protest songs. At a February 1962 CORE benefit he performed his first protest song called: “The Death of Emmit Till”. A song about the horrible racial murder of the Afro-American teenager Emmit Till in 1955.

On Friday the 29th of September 1971 Robert Shelton published a laudatory article on the still unknown talent Bob Dylan. This led to a signing with Colombia Records. Dylan became the prodigy of John Hammond, famous for being able to discover great musical talents.

In 1963 Dylan released his second album: “The freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. In contrast to his first album, Dylan’s second album contained many of his own compositions. With “Blowin’ in the Wind” being the most important song. This was the song that later became one of the anthems of the 1960’s. The success of his second album was in the same period the Civil Rights Movement began to become more popular and influential. Because they both shared the same political view they decided to join forces to fight for equal rights.

Lyrics “Blowin’ in the wind”:

How many roads most a man walk down
Before you call him a man ?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand ?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea ?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free ?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The new forged alliance led to Dylan playing at the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King jr. held his legendary speech: “I Have a Dream”. Seen by many as one of the most important events in the battle for equality. Dylan became a living symbol for the movement. He strongly believed that his music could play a significant role.

Not long after Dylan’s legendary performance at the March on Washington signs of a break between him and the movement started to show. Dylan felt he was being taking hostage by the movement and a lot of liberal young people from his generation. He disliked the pressure of being the spokesmen of his generation.

When Dylan came back in New York after a tour he discovered that his manager already planned a new tour for the summer. This continues pressure from outside on his person as well on his working career led to Dylan having a motorcycle accident in the summer of 1966’.

Experts say this was a turning point in Dylan’s career. In the following albums Dylan released his music was less political orientated. It seemed that he finally freed himself of being the spokesmen of his generation. During this period of his career he was a more family orientated person, spending more time with his wife and kids then before.

Also during this period, Dylan started to read more from the bible. This reflected on his way of playing, he would use a simple structure for his music and only make use of acoustic instruments. People believe this was a protest against the upcoming psychedelic pop music. This would be the trend for the albums to come, up to today.

Whoever wants to see this living legend play can still admire him today. Although Dylan is 62 years old he is still active as a performer, currently touring through the United States. Critics may say his voice and songs are not at the same level as before, which could lead to disappointment because it’s not the Dylan you remember from back in the days. I strongly feel that it’s still a great honour to see Dylan perform. As he played such an important role in American history.

Literature

1.      Dylan, B. Chronicles Volume 1(2004). New York, NY: Simon and Chuster.

2.      Roberts, J. Bob Dylan: Voice of a Generation(2005). Minneapolis: Lerner Publications company.

3.      Yaffe, D. Bob Dylan: Like a complete unknown(2011). Dexter, Michigan: Integrated Publishing Solutions.

Written by Pieter Klinkhamer

Woodstock

English: The crowd at Woodstock fills a natura...

The crowd at Woodstock fills a natural amphitheatre with the stage at the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sixties were renowned for their advances in the way we perceived our society. We made changes in the way we thought of black people, of women, and the way we perceived the structure of our society. All this was spearheaded by the youth, the youth that wanted change. The warmongering nation of America was being criticized by the American youth, who demanded a pacifistic approach to things.

It was during this time that an alternative group, known as the hippies, emerged. The pacifistic people were also formed through the American youth, but took a slightly different approach. Rather than protesting all day, these people preferred to kick back and relax, smoke a joint or two, and listen to some psychedelic rock. This culture eventually collaborated with one another, and started forming what would later be one of the largest music festivals ever attended.

The idea came through the joint efforts of Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Artie Kornfeld. Together, they worked to create what they hoped would be the largest music festival. But mostly, the festival was done so the organizers could run a profit, which would turn out to be ironic, given the types of people they ended up attracting.

Ticket sales went well and the organizers were estimating around 200.000 people attending. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances of the local city council—or town board, as it was known back then—namely them disallowing the venue chosen, the organizers were forced to abandon their plans of holding the event in the Mills Industrial Park. But news of the ban trickled down the lines, and soon enough, people got wind of the giant festival that was about to take place.

Because of the huge increase in interest, the organizers had to make a choice. They felt like they had two choices. They could either increase fencing and security, keeping the surplus of visitors outside, but it had the option of sparking violence. The other option was simply putting the remaining capital that Woodstock Ventures had, towards finishing the stage, and allowing free entry.

With around 450.000 attendees, the festival was filled with chaos and commotion. But when the dust settled, and the people looked back on their weekend, people unanimously agreed that they had witnessed history. The Woodstock music festival was the pinnacle of what the hippies stood for: peace, love and music. The ‘60s were defined by a lot of things, but one of the most instantly recognizable ones, is Woodstock, and with good reason.

Written by Boudewijn Verleg

The Vietnam War. The war in which we had refused to believe broke out.

From 1959 to april 30th 1975 there was a war going on, the Vietnam War to be exact. It was an attempt from the Americans to stop the communists forever. They strongly believed in the ‘domino theory’, stating that if one country falls to a communist regime, neighbouring countries would follow. Now, Vietnam was already in war years before the Vietnam War started. Before the Americans entered the country, there were the French. They had occupied Vietnam for nearly six decades. Then, in 1940 the Japanese claimed regions of the land as well. face2You can imagine it wouldn’t take long before a Vietnamese would come to make an end to the madness and claim the land that is rightfully theirs. In 1941 Ho Chi Min returned to his Vietnam after being away for thirty years. He wanted to get rid of the French and Japanese, so he started the Viet Minh. It even lead to the establishment of an independent Vietnam with a new government called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945. However, the French were not so keen on giving up their colony, so they began to fight back.

The United States started to mingle in the war, much to the dismay of Ho Chi Min. In 1950 American military aid was on its way to support the French in this bloody war. Four years after the Americans started to support the French, the French backed out of the war. There still had to be decided how they could withdraw from this war peacefully. This was decided during the Geneva Accords: a cease fire and the country would be split in half. The communist North and the non-communist South. In 1956 they wanted to create a union of these halves and an election was held. The USA, still fearing the domino-theory, disagreed to the election, in fear of a communist victory. Their refusal did lead to an election, but only in the non-communist South. Ngo Dinh Diem was to be their new leader. His leadership however, wasn’t as it should be. He was killed in 1963. His horrible leadership had led to the sympathizing of the South Vietnamese with the North Vietnamese. They joined the Viet Cong, the guerrilla groups that wanted to eliminate the South Vietnamese.

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Then the Gulf of Tonkin accident happened. Because the Viet Cong were still fighting the South Vietnamese, the USA sent more advisers to the area. On August the 2nd 1964 the North Vietnamese fired directly upon to ships from the USA on international waters. As an answer, the congress gave the president full authority to mingle in the war and to send US troops. And so it happened.

What they probably didn’t see coming, is that the war was to be fought in the jungle. An area unknown to the Americans, but what was like a playground to the Viet Cong. The Americans felt like there was no other option than to play it dirty. Agent Orange was used to make the leaves fall of the trees, in order to get a closer look at their enemy. The poison still has effects on the landscape to this day. It meant that 1,034,300 hectares of forest was no longer the beautiful jungle it once was.

It was a bloody war and to most of the word population, a useless one. Many singers and songwriters used their creativity to speak out against this horror. R.E.M. wrote a song about the use of Agent Orange, titled “Orange Crush”.

Our wheels in slush and orange crush, in pocket and all this here county

Hell any county it’s just like Heaven here and I was remembering and I

Was just in a different county and all then this whirlybird that I

Headed for I had my goggles pulled off I knew it all I knew every back Road and every truck stop.”

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Nowadays people sing about war in general, or just about evil things people do each other. But all the statements that were made during this war, is quite unusual.

If you look at the ending of this war, the Americans didn’t really go out with a bang. They didn’t succeed at stopping the ‘domino-theory’. Saigon, the capital city was seized by the communist forces by 1975. The country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the following year.

But for the Vietnamese, the war wasn’t over yet. Many of the things that happened during those nearly twenty years still have their impact today. Throwing bombs was a popular thing to do by the American and British forces. However, not all bombs exploded at the moment they were dropped, meaning there were still active bombs lying around, exploding at random times. The Americans also dropped plastic/metal mines from their planes. Thousands at a time. It could cause serious injuries on anyone who was unlucky enough to take the wrong step. These people still have those injuries today. It’s not over for them. Many of the things happened during this war were set aside as ‘things that happen during warfare’. But does that make it okay? Isn’t it still absurd what has happened? How cruel people can be, how a war can drive people to complete and utter madness?

And this war is not the only war that has occurred. War has been here since humans set foot on this planet. It’s an illusion to think it will ever stop. In 1915, Sigmund Freud wrote an essay on ‘The Disillusionment of War’. The following quote reflects on the first World War, but I think it is still very accurate and true for any war we have faced and the wars still to come. Especially the Vietnam War.

“Then the war in which we had refused to believe broke out, and it brought – disillusionment. Not only is it more bloody and more destructive than any war of other days, because of the enormously increased perfection of weapons of attack and defence; it is at least as cruel, as embittered, as implacable as any that has preceded it. It disregards all the restrictions known as International Law, which in peace-time the states had bound themselves to observe; it ignores the prerogatives of the wounded and the medical service, the distinction between civil and military sections of the population, the claims of private property. It tramples in blind fury on all that comes in its way as though there were to be no future and no peace among men after it is over. It cuts all the common bonds between the contending peoples, and threatens to leave a legacy of embitterment that will make any renewal of those bonds impossible for a long time to come.”

Written by Roeliene Bos

I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With these famous words, Martin Luther King, Jr. would open an era that saw the end of inequality between races. And it would put an end to the era where black people were considered inferior to white men. He uttered the words in a speech at the climax of the March on Washington, on the steps, next to the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln, who was famous for the abolition of slavery.

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a reverend and his wife. His original name was to be Michael King, the same name as his father, but his father had decided to change his own name to Martin Luther King, to pay homage to the German reformer Martin Luther, and changed the name of his son as well. The Kings, like a lot of African-American families, were deeply religious, which prompted both father and son to serve their Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a Christian minister himself, and it was through the Christian teachings that he was inspired to become someone who made his protest in peace. He devoutly believed in a non-violent approach to the issues that were raging throughout the United States.

SCLC
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, and his experiences against the Brits when it came to protesting, King was convinced that the only way to get equality between races, would be to make their protests as non-violent as possible. In 1957, King along with other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This organization would be at the forefront of the battle against racism, as it supported many of the movements that sought to banish inequality. The first one was the Albany movement, formed in November, 1961. The movement sought to end the segregation that existed within its community—in Albany, Georgia—by performing non-violent protests. The organization had riled up thousands of activists, who all participated in taking over establishments that were labeled for ‘whites only’. In the mean time, the Albany police chief, Laurie Pritchett, studied the movement’s strategies and used mass non-violent arrests, to get the activists off the street, and the media off his back.

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Albany movement
The Albany movement, which was founded by the SNCC, or Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was critical about the party founded by Martin Luther King, and of the man himself. They criticized King over being lax in supporting the movements that wanted equality.  When King ended up coming around, his intent was to only stay for a day, deliver a counsel and be on his merry way home. But the next day, he got caught up in a mass arrest tactic, employed by the police. He was given the option of serving time in jail, which would amount to forty-five days, or he’d have to pay the $178,- fine. He chose the former.

Three days into his sentence, Martin Luther King was released from custody, after the police chief arranged for King’s fine to be posted. The moment King left the city, any and all progress that the SNCC made, was swept off the table. The agreements were never honoured. Despite all this, the black protesters still saw the Albany movement as a moderate success, and it would prove the stepping stone into Martin Luther King’s illustrious career as a public speaker and activist.

Leading up to the Washington March
Over the course of the next few years, King got involved in many more projects. One of them was the Birmingham campaign in Alabama. Given the location of Alabama, on

the south side of the country, and with the South being

notoriously racist, campaigning in this area would prove to be challenging. King’s idea was to provoke the local authority into making mass arrests, which would turn the situation into such a crisis, that negotiations would have to follow. The plan worked, up to a certain point. The early volunteers failed in shutting down the city—by using the same method that the Albany movement used, and occupying buildings and public transportation—and it wasn’t until one of the strategists of his organization, James Bevel, suggested that they use children and young adults, that the strategy started having any sort of effect, with police using high-pressure water jets to break up the protesters.

The March on Washington

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the 28th of August, King took part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The idea behind the march was to show the men in Washington, how bad the black people had it, especially in the South. The march was supported by the current president, John F. Kennedy. However, not everyone saw the march as something that was good, or at least beneficent to the African American society. Malcolm X condemned the march, because it presented an inaccurate image and was toned down from its initial idea, of slamming hard facts into the politicians’ faces and making them deal with it.

However, the march did go on, and the groups that participated did end up making several demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools, a new legislation that would provide meaningful civil rights, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, and other basic human rights that simply weren’t granted to them.

Martin Luther King, standing on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, and in honour of the Gettysburg Address, delivered a rousing speech, about the circumstances and lives of the African American people. But near the end of the speech, a young woman named Mahalia Jackson, cried out to King: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”

What followed, is still considered to be one of the defining moments in our history:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.”

Written by Boudewijn Verleg

Johnny Cash: “Nobody is as big as Elvis, nobody will ever be!”

 

Elvis Presley, The King of Rock, or short: The King. And he does that name honour, Elvis is one of the most popular and successful artists that has ever walked on our planet. During his life he sold 500 million records. A week after his death that number raised with 8 million more. His looks made him stand out: long hair, which was uncommon for that time, sideburns and later the jumpsuits. His energized interpretations of songs and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular—and controversial. animaatjes-elvis-presley-77717

For example, after a show in Wisconsin there was sent a copy of the local Catholic diocese’s newspaper to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover which said: “Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States. His actions and motions were such as to rouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth. After the show, more than 1000 teenagers tried to gang into Presley’s room at the auditorium.”

Another example. During the second Milton Berle Show, Berle persuaded Presley to leave his guitar backstage, saying “Let ‘em see you son.” During the performance Presley started an uptempo rendition of ‘Hound Dog’ with a wave of his arm and ‘launched into a slow, grinding version accentuated with energetic, exaggerated body movements.’ That was seen as an outrage. Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote: “Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability. His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner’s  aria in a bathtub. His one specialty is an accented movement of the body, primarily identified with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runaway.” Just because he was shaking his hips.

Elvis Presley’s performance on the Milton Berle Show

New York Daily News reporter Ben Gross,’ opinion was that popular music “has reached its lowest depths in the ‘grunt and groin’ antics of one Elvis Presley. Elvis, who rotates his pelvis, gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.” And Ed Sullivan declared him ‘unfit for family viewing’. He opined that Presley “got some kind of device hanging below the crotch of his pants, so when he moves his legs back and forth you can see the outline of his cock. We just can’t have this on a Sunday night. This is a family show!”
He soon got the nickname ‘Elvis the Pelvis’, which Elvis himself said he thought was ‘one of the most childish expressions I ever heard, coming from an adult’.

When asked if he had learned anything from all the criticism he had gotten because he was being subjected, Presley said: “No I haven’t. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong. I mean, how could rock ‘n’ roll music make anyone rebel against their parents?”

Historian Marty Jezer referred to Presley as the one who set the artistic pace. After that other artists followed. Presley let the young people believe in themselves as a distinct and somehow unified generation: the first in America to feel the power of an integrated youth culture.
The audience went crazy at Presley’s live shows. His guitarist Scotty Moore recalled: “He’d start out: ‘You ain’t nothing’ but a Hound Dog’ and they’d just go to pieces. They’d always react the same way. There’d be a riot every time.’

Written by Amy Vink