Love and Hate in Dallas

Thursday, November 14, 2013

To mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, D Magazine, a local monthly publication in Dallas, asked this question on its front cover: ''Did Dallas Kill Kennedy?''

Now that another 25 years have passed, very few people still blame the city of Dallas itself for the death of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. But the city of Dallas still plays a larger than life role in the nation's imagination. Two new, distinct projects are trying to reclaim the city’s reputation by casting a new narrative. 

The first is a giant art gallery featuring 30,000 pieces of art seen on hundreds of walls and windows across the city. The project is called "Dallas LOVE" and a rebuff to those who dubbed Dallas the city of hate. Karen Blessen is its Executive Director.

The second is a documentary film, directed by Quin Matthews, called “City of Hate: Dallas and the Assassination.” Blessen and Matthews join The Takeaway to discuss their own memories of Kennedy's death and how the city is responding some 50 years later. 

Below you'll find some of the pieces included in the Dallas LOVE Project.

An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
An image from the art project "Dallas Love"
Karen Blessen Executive Director of Dallas Love


Karen Blessen and Quin Matthews

Produced by:

Rupert Allman and Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [10]

jane from New York

I continue to be amazed at Mr Hockenberry's cavalier attitude toward oppression and violence. Asking his guest if he anticipates people will continue to "pop off" public figures and schoolchildren reflects and perpetuates the media's, and Mr Hockenberry's, disconnect from the devastation of gun violence.

Nov. 14 2013 04:24 PM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

I was 11 then, in Rabat, Morocco. Everyone cried,including my mother (who was a tough cookie) so I cried as well. I did not understand beyond the fact that some person was shot DEAD.... My tough Mom pointed to our staples bearing USAID stamps (flour, oil). And, that's that. khadija Ouahmane

Nov. 14 2013 03:28 PM

My mother told me I was conceived the day of JFK's assassination. A known, natural response to overwhelming grief - Seeking intimacy and closeness with those we love and trust the most.

Nov. 14 2013 02:02 PM
Judy Welles from Portland, OR

I was a junior in college, spending my junior year in Hamburg, Germany. I was studying at home that day when my landlady came upstairs to tell me that they had just seen on the television that our President had been shot. A short time later she came into my room to tell me that President Kennedy was dead. I was alone and confused about what to do. Shortly after that I got a phone call from the professor who was responsible for our group of American students, asking me "What should I do?" I wanted to scream at him "You're the grownup! You should know what to do!" but instead I suggested that he contact everyone in our group (there were 13 of us) and invite us all to his house, which he did. I think this was my first inkling that adults don't always know what to do, and that "kids" (I was 20) sometimes have better instincts than adults do.

It was very disturbing to be in a foreign country when all this was going on. Of course President Kennedy was beloved by the Germans, having just made his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in Berlin a few months earlier. There was deep grieving in West Germany at the time, but nowhere near the 24/7 television coverage of the event and its aftermath that was available here in the U.S. It wasn't until months later that I saw a film at a German/American Institute in Hamburg which showed the funeral procession, President Johnson's swearing-in on the plane with Jackie Kennedy holding the Bible, and so many other iconic images present in the American psyche. To this day I feel that I missed a hugely significant experience that most Americans my age (currently age 70) endured together.

At a recent college reunion, those of us who were abroad that year (some in Paris, Geneva and elsewhere as well as Germany) got together to talk about our experience of Junior Year Abroad, and every single person spoke about the disconnect she felt not being in the country when this terrible thing happened.

Nov. 14 2013 01:13 PM

OK. I was sitting in a third grade classroom in East Texas ala the movie Bernie when the news of his killing came over the PA system... immediately Frankie across from me in a reading cluster shout, "Great! He needed killing!." So, it was memorable... but that seems to far in the past today. It is like the first moon landing... many of my students today don't believe it happened. Dallas is not the city it was in the 60's, anymore than any city in the South is like it was in the 60's. I live here now: it is not a city of hate...

Changing the topic a bit: I saw a special screening of the Military Channel's documentary called "Capturing Oswald" this week in the Texas Theatre in OakCliff [across the river from Dallas] where he was captured, listening to a panel discussion after the screening by the living police officers [including the "guy in the white suit and white cowboy hat", former police Det. Jim Leavelle]. That actually changed the way I feel about the city of Dallas and how the local police force prepared for JFK's arrival and how they, without cellphones or even walkie-talkies, they were able to capture Oswald in 88 minutes after the shooting, making a strong case that not only did Oswald murder the President but also murdered Dallas police officer Tippe in Oakcliff, in a chain of events that lead to Oswald's murder the next day. Fascinating story telling from the viewpoint of the local Dallas police, who quickly captured the most memorable killing of a President in the 20th century.

Nov. 14 2013 12:58 PM
Ken Hudson from Midlothian, TX

Bobby Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles. Doesn't that qualify that city as a "city of hate" as well? Chicago has many times the number of homicides by (unregistered) guns than does Dallas. Our guns and our legal right to own and possess firearms in "The Lone Star State" makes us safer.

Rick from the "Left" Coast: your spelling, grammar and punctuation need much improvement. You represent your point-of-view poorly with such language.

Nov. 14 2013 12:44 PM
Olive Talley from Dallas

What a pleasant surprise to hear three wonderful journalists on the air just now. Hello John, Quin and Karen, all former colleagues. Nice to have you and your show in Dallas.

Last night, I listened to an interview given by Luci Baines Johnson to one of the LBJ Library directors. It's posted online on the library site. It was riveting to hear her recount that day and the days and weeks that followed from her perspective as a 16-year-old girl.

These kinds of personal accounts have added a lot of perspective to this historic event for me.

Thanks to all three of you for your contributions.

Nov. 14 2013 12:41 PM
Ken Hudson from Midlothian, TX

Rick from the "Left" coast. Clearly you haven't been to Dallas recently.

Nov. 14 2013 12:38 PM
Rick from West Coast

I agree with Joe that there are probably few who believe Dallas is a city of hate. However, my view is that Dallas and Texas in particular was and is a caldrin of gun toting right wing political activity that could have been an enviornment where the action of such violence in the name of liberty festers in the minds of many because of political associations. Therefore, I believe State of Texas has to take some responsibility for the loss of President Kennedy. Right or wrong, Dallas and Texas have that reputation because of where the majority of its people stand on significant political issues.

Nov. 14 2013 11:46 AM

Ironic how in a piece that expresses concern over how to educate those not alive at the time the misdirection of the the liberal meme 'city if hate' is front and center and no one makes mention that JFK was not killed because he was a liberal in a savage conservative land but because a communist doesn't like his Cuba policy. No time for the detail. On the contrary, the woman behind 'spreading more love! Campaign ( can't Hockenberry spare some of his irony for such an idiotic guest? She wouldn't have noticed) implied that we really don't know who shot the president. It's a 'dark rabbit hole' or something. Whatever lets her perpetuate the myth it was right wingers in cowboy boots. The film maker admits that he doesn't actually believe that Dallas was a 'city of hate' ( was Boston during the school bussing protests? What a dopey formulation for 'smart' media types to indulge in) . So no one really believes Dallas was a city if hate or any worse then other southern states as Huggy love woman contends. So why go on about it? Not one producer thought to say 'uh, maybe we should mention that Lee Harvey was not a racist oil tycoon wh wanted us to get further into Viet Nam so he. And his pals could enrich themselves on our soldiers blood but rather a lefty?' That's NPR....

Nov. 14 2013 09:45 AM

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