The head of WKU Special Collections, Jonathan Jeffrey, has won the 2014 Kentucky History Award for his role leading the JFK Memory Project. The effort surrounded the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in 2013.
WKU Public Radio talked to Jeffrey last year as he was collecting memories of JFK’s campaign stop in Bowling Green in 1960 and the events in Dallas in November 1963.
“If we waited until the next significant anniversary like the 75th anniversary – almost everybody who would have a remembrance would be dead,” said Jeffery. “So, it’s imperative, I think, that we do it right now.”
The JFK project collected personal memories from more than 130 people. The history award is presented by the Kentucky Historical Society. Jeffrey has been at WKU since 1990.
Kentuckians share their memories of John F. Kennedy
Eighteen-year-old Gerald Givens was a member of the Butler County High School Band in 1960 when then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy made a campaign stop in downtown Bowling Green.
“We were in front of his car, so when I got through with the parade I grabbed my camera and ran back up the street so I could get a good picture of him, which I did,” said Givens. “After that, we just disbanded, got on the buses and went back to Morgantown at that time.”
Givens captured a picture of the future president, riding in a red car with a Kennedy/Johnson sign strapped to the side.
“I was 18 years old and politics and all that didn’t register a whole lot. But I knew it was a big event because the streets were packed up one side and down the other,” said Givens.