THE KENNEDYS: THE PROMISE AND THE TRAGEDY OF THE 1960s

Professor Quentin Beresford

Margaret Christie Studio

Relive the 1960s! The election of the charismatic President John F. Kennedy in 1960 symbolised the transition to a post-war younger, more idealistic generation. His assassination in November 1963 shocked America and the world. The course will focus on the Kennedy family and their times. Against a rising concern over civil rights for African Americans, entrenched poverty, the rise of the mafia and the threat posed by the Cold War, the course examines JFK’s response to these challenging issues along with the role played by his Attorney-General and brother, Bobby. After JFK’s assassination President Lyndon Johnson took up the Kennedy mantle to push through some ground-breaking legislation. As the 1960s progressed, America fractured over the Vietnam War and young people’s challenge to establishment values. It was gripped by violence in 1968 over student protests and the assassinations of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King and presidential aspirant, Bobby Kennedy both of whom wanted a new direction for America. These turbulent and interesting times reveal the bright and dark sides of America at a critical time.

Lecture sequence:

  1. The setting: Joe Kennedy (the patriarch), the rise of the Cold War and the ‘red scare’
  2. The 1960 election and Kennedy’s new style of presidency.
  3. Nuclear winter averted: the Cuban Missile Crisis
  4. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
  5. Lone gun or conspiracy? the assassination of JFK
  6. Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedy Legacy
  7. A nation divided: the Vietnam War
  8. Conflicts over cultural change: young people, women and environmentalists

The end of the 1960s: violence, the Manson murders the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy

About the Presenter:

Dr Quentin Beresford recently took up a role as Adjunct Professor of Politics at USC after a 30 year career at Edith Cowan University in Perth. He is the author of a dozen books of non-fiction on a range of topics including the environment, biography and Aboriginal affairs. He has won five literary awards for his work.