JFK Assassination: Experts available to discuss history and politics

Nov. 15, 2013


Beverly Clark

Elaine Justice


Emory University history and political science experts are available to discuss the multiple topics surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  

The assassination & America's reaction

Patrick Allitt, an expert in American history and religious history, says the assassination of President Kennedy was a nationally traumatic event similar to the impact of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  

“Everybody was affected,” Allitt says. “The TV stations covered nothing else for several days. They even stopped running commercials. There was a collective feeling of national violation and a terrific sense of surprise.” Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, is the author of six books including “Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America: 1950-1985.”  

Email: pallitt@emory.edu  

Joseph Crespino, a post-World War II political history expert, says President Kennedy was so despised by southern Republicans because of Cold War politics and the Civil Rights movement that very few people would have guessed the assassin was on the extreme political left.  

“At the time of [President Kennedy’s] assassination, if you would have asked who killed John Kennedy almost everyone would have assumed it would have been a southerner,” Crespino explains. “Or, it would have been one of these right wing, anti-communist figures.” Crespino’s expertise includes the South and U.S. history since 1945. His most recent book “Strom Thurmond’s America” is a political biography of the long-time South Carolina Senator.  

Email: jcrespi@emory.edu  

Lee Harvey Oswald 

Political science professor Harvey Klehr, a Cold War expert, says one of the most common misconceptions about the JFK assassination is that it was carried out by a right-wing fanatic. 

Oswald was actually a communist and "had a hatred for the United States,” says Klehr. “He was a deeply, deeply troubled man, and we may never know the exact reason he killed Kennedy.” Klehr is the Andrew W. Mellon professor of politics and history with research interests in American communism and Soviet espionage in America. His most recent book is “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America.”  

Email: polshk@emory.edu