It is not unprecedented for The Sixth Floor Museum to obtain a permit for Dealey Plaza. But it is unprecedented for access to Dealey Plaza to be denied.
I used to work for the Museum for several years and we had a permit for Dealey Plaza for the 40th.
We did not have any events in Dealey Plaza. We would always say, “The Kennedy Family has asked that people remember President Kennedy’s life rather than focusing on his death”. Which we did.
We had the permit so we could provide power and phone lines for all of the news crews that came to cover the story. (How many news crews? A bazillion!! Just kidding. It was about 300.)
And while, we did not have any activities in Dealey Plaza during the anniversary, we did have events in the museum. We opened a great photograph exhibit of Jacque Lowe photographs. Lowe was the photographer who took pictures of JFK, Jackie, Caroline and John Jr. as well as rest of the Kennedy’s family. He created the Camelot imagery. He took the photos in this post. A side note: all of Lowe’s negatives were stored in a safe deposit box in the World Trade Center and were destroyed on 9-11. The exhibit we had, hadimages made from contact sheets.
We also had a symposium with members of Kennedy’s administration and reporters from 1963. Finally, we co-hosted a performance Bernstein’s Mass with the Dallas Symphony. Mass was the piece commissioned by Jackie to open The Kennedy Center in DC. Edward Kennedy wrote The Sixth Floor Museum a letter thanking us and the Symphony for the performances. This was not the first letter from Teddy that The Sixth Floor received. They received one when The Sixth Floor Museum restored The Kennedy Memorial.
We also worked with the police for security. There was a rumor that a flash mob was going to show up and they were either going to open umbrellas or fire off firecrackers at the time of the shooting. Firecrackers would have been a disaster and could have caused a panic. But it turned out just to be umbrellas. But no one had synced their watches. The umbrellas opened for about ten minutes.
Unlike the current administration at The Sixth Floor, We did not ban anyone from Dealey Plaza. The Conspiracy Museum guy wanted to have a March of Silence and we let him. But he had a drum, so the march was not so silent. All of the street vendor guys who sell their magazines were allowed There was a group that went on and on about the conspiracies accessorized with a bull horn there. For some reason Jesse Ventura was there. “The only elected official there”, he crowed. Um, hey Jesse, you are no longer the elected anything of anywhere. I think elected should mean currently elected not just elected sometime in your past. There was a lot of stuff going on but it didn’t seem like a carnival atmosphere. But it was free speech.
No one at The Sixth Floor Museum will really talk except for saying they want a minute long moment of silence. Why not 6 seconds? Makes more sense. Not talking, allows people to make up their own narrative. They need to own the story so it doesn’t look like they are doing what they are doing.
Then again, maybe they are doing exactly what everyone thinks they are doing.
Is the plan to keep everyone out of the Plaza or just those who believe in conspiracies? Are they going to ban media outlets? How are they going to sort out the silent from non-silent? Are people going to have to sign a vow of silence for admission?
No student or tour groups, who constantly fill the Plaza allowed either? The Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza are tourist destinations. In a time, when we need all of the tourism we can get, it seems stupid to not allow people free access to the Plaza.
It seems like everyone wants to see a conspiracy about the Museum and JFK. It gets a little old but when no one talks about what they are doing, people are left with their own ideas about what is going on.
I loved working there and it makes me sad for anything that doesn’t put the Museum in the best light. It is an amazing place.
The Dallas Observer’s Jim Schutze, talks about having something with Occupy Wall Street in the Plaza during that time. I usually love Schutze and his views but I think linking the anniversary to Occupy Wall Street is ridiculous and disrespectful to JFK’s memory and his family. One has nothing to do with the other.
The Sixth Floor, the city and whoever, should allow people to congregate in Dealey Plaza on the anniversary-silent or not. Allowing freedom of speech and assembly is the best way to honor President Kennedy.