Louisville senator, historian remember JFK assassination

Published: Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:53 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2014 at 11:21 PM EST
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Georgia Powers
Georgia Powers
Tom Owens
Tom Owens

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Although his tenure was short, America's memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and what they loved about him are long.

"He was the first president I ever met. That actually was the beginning of my political career that year," said Senator Georgia Powers, Kentucky's first African-American and first woman in the Senate.

October of 1962 President John F. Kennedy made a trip to Louisville, Kentucky.

"The president came to the Seelbach," Powers recalled, "We stood in line for the reception and as he came down the line the only thing I could say I was so excited was 'good evening Mr. President.'"

Although Powers remembered meeting him, she did not really remember how the city found out the President would be arriving.

"There was no advertisement or anything," said Powers.

Historian and Louisville Metro Councilman Tom Owen was a 23-year-old Methodist minister a the time of JFK's visit. While he doesn't remember his visit, what him, Powers and the rest of the country remembers is November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet as his motorcade drove through Dallas, Texas.

Powers said, "Anybody of any age who lived during that period of time would certainly remember where they were, where they heard it, what they were feeling, were and what they thought about."

Friday, November 22, 2013, will mark 50 years since that fateful day.

"What we ended up doing was gluing ourselves to the medium that had become dominate in Louisville and the American society.  That was television. There was no more extra, extra - it was the beginning of breaking news." Owen said of the day JFK was assassinated, "Unprecedented in the sense that because it's all little black and white dots on a print page before that but here's live television and every moment, every nuisance, every touch is virtually a nation paused and in their living room."

Beauty, youth, hope and democracy for our nation blasted away by one man and one bullet but held together by one very strong woman.

"My heartfelt sympathy for Jackie," Owen said of John F. Kennedy's wife, "and what she went through being right in the car with him and his blood being splashed on her."

Owen said, "She understood the ritual and grieving and mourning and burial and separation was both immediate and personal. But she also understood she was a mourning widow playing her grief and mourning out on a national forum on stage for the nation, leading the nation."

To see photos of JFK's visit to Louisville, click here.

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