Kennedy scrapbook brings back memories

Published 10:17 am Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty years ago President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald as his motorcade made its way through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.

Today, Dawnita Redd sits in her Ironton home, looking at a scrapbook that she made as an 11 year old, and her mind is flooded with memories.

“Looking at this really brings back a lot of memories,” Redd said. “I remember how somber it all felt, the news coverage and the unanswered questions.”

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The book is filled with articles, pictures and other memorabilia surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. Redd said that her aunt, Clara Slash, encouraged her to make the scrapbook and helped put it together.

“It was my aunt Clara’s idea, well we called her Pate but she was the one who came up with the scrapbook,” Redd said. “She understood how big the moment was and knew it would be something to hold onto.”

So Redd did just that. She’s held onto the scrapbook for 50 years, and over time the book has weathered some wear and tear.

“That thing has been through hell and high water,” Redd said. “I’m surprised it has made it so long, but it has.”

Kennedy today is often revered by American’s as one of the country’s brightest, and best leaders despite having such a short presidency. However, at the time Kennedy had to overcome a rash of unpopularity, it was this unpopularity that brought him to Texas in the first place.

“You got to remember Kennedy had some enemies,” Redd said. “Southerners weren’t happy that he embraced his brother’s civil rights ideals, not to mention the fact he was a catholic. He was there to try and convince the people of Texas that he was fit to be the President.”

Kennedy’s death left many unanswered questions especially for African-Americans who were concerned that Lyndon B. Johnson (a Texan himself) may not carry out the late President’s civil rights platforms.

“I remember that my Daddy was concerned about Johnson,” said Redd. “But to Johnson’s credit he promised to carry on Kennedy’s fight for equality and he did. He kept us moving forward.”

As for the scrapbook, Redd is intent on keeping it and the memories held within it for as long as she’s alive.

“I won’t get rid of it,” she said. “Keeping it is a tribute to my aunt Pate, it just holds to much history. I may give it to my niece one day.”