December 14 - December 16

JFK, the Unspeakable & 2013
James W. Douglass with Paul Schrade

This program has already happened. Please see our current schedule or call us at 413-339-4954 to find out when this presenter will next be at Rowe Center.

“Since 1996, I have sought the truth at the heart of the four-fold martyrdom of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy. I invite you to join me in exploring their interconnected stories. Our special focus will be JFK’s story, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of his death in 2013. Can hope come from confronting the Unspeakable?”

President Kennedy’s remarkable turn toward peace with his enemies, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, saved the world from becoming a nuclear wasteland. His assassination, followed by the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, also killed the hope of the Sixties. The seemingly senseless murders began a half-century of politics and culture dominated by an expanding warfare state. The death of hope receded into a denial of systemic evil that Thomas Merton identified as “the unspeakable.”

It is the void of moral responsibility in our military’s incinerations of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, the void in the Cold War doctrine that allowed the CIA to assassinate ideological opponents around the world at will, the systematic withdrawal of the president’s security that allowed for JFK’s execution in Dallas, the void of any semblance of truth in the Warren Report, and the void of 49 years of propaganda to cover up the truth of our president’s assassination.

Can hope come from confronting the Unspeakable? We believe it can. A paradoxical hope can be discovered in the transforming stories of JFK, Martin, Malcolm, and RFK — and perhaps in the collective story of us all. Join us in exploring that hope, as we prepare for the JFK jubilee year ahead of us.

Now with special guest Paul Schrade, who was shot the same night that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Paul Schrade was Labor Chair and an organizer of Kennedy's 1968 California campaign. He was one of the five others shot the night that Robert Kennedy was fatally wounded. Since 1975 he has vigorously pursued the identity of the second gunman who killed his friend. He has recently joined with two forensic scientists Judge Robert Joling and Philip Van Praag to present new forensic evidence of the second gunman and to pursue justice in this case. Attorneys Mel Levine and Rob Bonner former US Attorney both from the law firm Gibson Dunne and Crutcher represent them.

Paul Schrade began work with Robert Kennedy in the 1960 JFK campaign. He helped arrange Robert Kennedy's support for co-founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta of the farm workers struggle. He toured with him in Watts after the first urban black rebellion in 1965 to show him the community action program his union had developed. As US Senator Robert Kennedy used it as a model for his Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Project in Brooklyn. Both community unions still exist long after the War on Poverty was ended by LBJ and his commitment to the War in Vietnam.

Please read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, preferably the updated paperback edition, before the workshop.

Saturday evening there will be a reading of a new play by Ginny Cunningham, Noah's Ark, inspired by James W. Douglass book JFK and the Unspeakable.  The play, which has only been publicly read once, unfolds through two guides: Colonel Benson, a White House and military insider, and Brother Thomas Merton, a monk who prodded the Kennedy conscience and corresponded with Ethel Kennedy during JFK’s presidency.  Returning to the Bay of Pigs, Vienna, Berlin, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and, finally, Dallas, Noah’s Ark goes behind the scenes as JFK fumbles, enters a back channels correspondence with Krushchev, and angers a  CIA intent on a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. What really happened in Dallas? Fifty years later, do we know how and why a president died? Does it matter? (If you cannot attend the whole workshop but would like to see the play & have dinner Saturday night, call the Rowe office at 413-339-4954 to register.)

James W. Douglass wrote JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, The Nonviolent Cross, Resistance and Contemplation, Lightning East to West, The Nonviolent Coming of God, and Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth. From 1963­-65 he was a theological adviser on nuclear war and conscientious objection to Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council in Rome. After Jim taught college for several years, he and his wife Shelley helped found Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action beside the Trident submarine base near Seattle.  Ground Zero’s Gandhian campaign to stop Trident included acts of civil disobedience, for which Jim served a year­and­-a-­half in jail. The campaign developed into an extended community in 250 towns and cities vigiling by the tracks of the notorious White Train carrying nuclear weapons, prompting the Douglasses’ move along the tracks in 1989 to Birmingham, Alabama. In 1993 Jim and Shelley founded Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham for homeless families. Since then Jim has participated in peace walks and witnesses in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq, Sarajevo under siege, and more. Since 1996, Jim has been researching and writing on the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul Schrade has over sixty years of union and community action experience including service as an officer of the United Auto Workers union. In 1987 he initiated the plan to build schools as a living memorial to the legacy of Robert Kennedy on the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel site where the shooting occurred. These k thru 12 schools opened for the 2009-10 school year with a social and economic justice curriculum for more than 4,000 children in the most depressed urban area of Los Angeles. Paul Schrade believes that solving the Robert Kennedy case is also Kennedy's legacy because of his own private and intensive efforts to solve his brother's assassination. As a charter member he serves on the boards of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. In 2011 he received the Chavez Legacy Award on behalf of the United Auto Workers Union for their support beginning in 1965.

Ginny Cunningham's feature stories and op-ed essays have been published in U.S. Catholic Magazine, the National Catholic Reporter, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and Fordham Magazine, among others. A founding member of the playwriting workshop at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 1995, her first full-length play On Earth a Little Space won a full production in Pittsburgh City Theatre's 4 X 4 Festival and she's completed a series of plays about Catholic nuns who have been at the center of political, racial and religious controversy throughout history.

“The best account I have read of this tragedy and its
significance .... But don’t take my word for it. Read this
extraordinary book and reach your own conclusions .”
— Oliver Stone, director


“Jim Douglass has unraveled the story of President
Kennedy’s astonishing and little known turn
toward peace, and the reasons why members of his
own government felt he must be eliminated . This
disturbing, enlightening, and ultimately inspiring
book should be read by all Americans . It has the
power to change our lives and set us free .”
— Martin Sheen, actor


“Arguably the most important book yet written
about an American President .  . . .Should be required
reading for all high school and college students .”
— John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman

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