DAUK Film Night: PBS America JFK
was held on November 15, 2014 in London
Thanks to and licensed by PBS America
About The Film
The Film Night
From PBS America’s press release about this four part series:
“Forever enshrined in myth by an assassin’s bullet, John F Kennedy’s presidency has often defied objective appraisal. This new portrait offers a fresh assessment of the man, his accomplishments and his unfulfilled promise.”
November 22nd, 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy.
While Kennedy’s presidential tenure was brief, he remains an iconic figure for Democrats and one of the post-World War II presidents most highly revered by the American public.
Making extensive use of original film footage and interviews with Kennedy family members, administration officials, civil rights leaders, journalists, and noted historians; Susan Bellows, director and producer, provides a well-paced, thought-provoking and gripping documentary.
For reasons of time, we are showcasing the final sections of this series, which follows Kennedy into the White House, through his assassination and the unfulfilled promise of his presidency. Key events and issues covered in this portion of the film include the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam.
About The Film Night Speakers
One of the contributors to this film series, Tim Naftali, author and historian and Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, as our post-screening speaker delighted us with the after film discussion.
From the PBS American Experience website:
Tim Naftali (Participant) is a historian and author. In the mid-1990s, fresh out of graduate school in history at Harvard, he was the first non-Russian to see the KGB’s files on the Castro brothers. This led to his first book, One Hell of a Gamble, about the Cuban missile crisis, written with Aleksandr Fursenko. In the late 1990s, Naftali became the first director of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia, which transcribed and annotated John F. Kennedy’s tapes. In 2003, the 9/11 Commission hired Naftali as a consultant; his work for the commission led to the publication of Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism in 2005. In 2006, the National Archives tapped Naftali to transform the private Nixon Library into a federal facility and to create a new Watergate gallery. During his tenure as director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, he oversaw the release of 1.3 million pages of materials and 630 hours of the famous Nixon Tapes. After leaving that post in late 2011, Naftali became a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation. He is currently writing a book on the presidency of JFK, slated for publication by Norton in 2014.
Baroness Williams of Crosby is better known to us all as Shirley Williams, one of the “Gang of Four” who dramatically left the Labour Party to form a new political party, the Social Democratic Party.
Shirley Williams was born in 1930. She became the first woman General Secretary of the Fabian Society in 1960, and in 1964 was elected MP for Hitchin. She was a member of the Wilson and Callaghan Governments in the 1960s and 1970s, culminating as Secretary of State for Education and Science, and Paymaster General in the cabinet from 1976 to 1979. She lost her seat in the 1979 election.
By 1980 the Labour Party in her view was veering into left-wing extremism, and in 1981 she co-founded the Social Democratic Party as one of the “Gang of Four”. She became the first MP elected for the SDP in a 1981 by-election in Crosby. From 1982 and 1988 Shirley Williams was elected President of the new party. Shirley Williams strongly supported the merger of the SDP with the Liberal Party into what was to become the Liberal Democrats.
Shirley Williams lost her seat in the 1983 General Election following boundary changes. She became Public Service Professor of Elective Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1988-1996. She has lectured at Cambridge, and in Princeton, Berkeley and Chicago in the US.
Shirley Williams was married to the late Professor Richard Neustadt, a leading expert on the US Presidency.
She was appointed to the Lords in 1993 and served as the Party’s spokesperson on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the Lords from 1998 to 2001 and was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords in 2001 serving until September 2004. She became in 2007 adviser to the Prime Minister on nuclear proliferation, has been a member of the board of the Nuclear Threat Initiation (NTI) of Washington DC for over ten years, and the only British member of the International Commission on Nuclear Disarmament and Proliferation and chairman of judges for the National Teaching Awards. She published her autobiography, Climbing the Bookshelves, in 2009.
Susan Schoenfeld Harrington, the Vice Chair of DAUK, chaired the discussion. Susan started her political life as a ‘babe in arms’ at the March on Washington. She has since actively worked on political campaigns at the city, state and national level as both a volunteer and staff. She’s been active with the Democratic National Committee and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Susan’s political universe was formed around a dinner table where the loss of Adlai Stevenson’s two Presidential attempts in 1952 and 56 were deeply felt. Her lifelong interest in American politics in the 50s and 60s has been a result.
For details of the full series, which premiers on November 12 in the UK go to PBS’s American Experience website for details.
Disclaimer: The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad – UK.