Miller Center Fall Forums to Examine John F. Kennedy’s Legacy

August 23, 2013

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center Forum will re-examine the legacy of the 35th president with a five-part series that begins on Aug. 28 and kicks off a new season.

These special forums, hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Douglas Blackmon, will feature new revelations about the ways Kennedy’s legacy continues to shape American life with regard to civil rights, the Vietnam War, relations with Central America and a family that has fascinated the nation.

The first in the series will take place Aug. 28 and feature the Miller Center’s Barbara Perry, whose new book on the life of Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Kennedy clan, reveals the ambitions and dysfunctions of a legendary family and how they shaped the future president. It is the first book based on Rose Kennedy’s newly opened personal papers.

On Sept. 11, the forum will feature historian William P. Jones and his new book examining the historic 1963 March on Washington, including Kennedy’s initial reluctance to embrace the Civil Rights Movement and then the essential role that he and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, played in the social struggle.

On Sept. 25, the forum will examine how the raging hostility and conflict in American life in 1963 may have set the stage for the attack on the president. Featured guests will be Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, whose new book, “Dallas 1963,” examines the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s death and the rising tensions and growing extremism in the city where he was killed.

On Oct. 16, Miller Center scholar Marc Selverstone, one of the nation’s pre-eminent experts on Kennedy, will offer new revelations from secret White House tapes on the president’s decision to dramatically escalate U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

The special series concludes on Oct. 21 when the forum will look at Kennedy’s legacy in Central and South America, ranging from successes of his Alliance for Progress that continue to shape relations between the U.S. and neighbors to the south, to Kennedy’s willingness to allow covert operations that may have weakened democracies for decades to come.

Below are dates and times for the Miller Center Forum’s entire fall lineup:

  • Aug. 28, 11 a.m. – Barbara Perry, author, “Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch”
  • Sept. 4, 11 a.m. – Gilbert King, author, “The Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America”
  • Sept. 5, 5:30 p.m. – Kickoff for new Forum season with host Douglas Blackmon
  • Sept. 11, 11 a.m.  – William P. Jones, author, “The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights”
  • Sept. 17, 11 a.m. – George Packer, author, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America”
  • Sept. 25, 11 a.m. – Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, authors, “Dallas 1963”
  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m. – Town Hall Meeting on the State of the American Dream
  • Oct. 7, 11 a.m. – Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria
  • Oct. 16, 11 a.m. – Marc Selverstone, The Kennedy Vietnam Tapes: What We Are Learning
  • Oct. 21, 11 a.m. - Kennedy’s Legacy in Central and South America
  • Nov. 13, 11 a.m. – Elizabeth R. Varon, author and Langbourne M Williams Professor of American History at U.Va., “Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War”
  • Nov. 20, 11 a.m. – Peter Baker, author, “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House”
  • Dec. 4, 11 a.m. – Ira Katznelson, author, “Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time”

The Miller Center Forum is open to the public. Forums are also broadcast on public television stations across the country and live-streamed at They include audience Q&A, and those watching the live stream can tweet questions to @Miller_Center or post them at

For information and scheduling updates, click here. The Miller Center is located at 2201 Old Ivy Road.

Media Contact

Kim Curtis

Miller Center

Kristy Schantz

Miller Center