Dallas, 51 Years After JFK

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It’s November 22nd. I’ve been sitting by the window in my living room. The blinds are open and I can see a few drops of rain accumulating in the corner of only one of the panes. I’ve been observing the gloomy overcast clouds that swirl around the city. Considering this day in history, the weather seems fitting.

I’m sitting less than 2 miles from the infamous Dealey Plaza where  just 51 years ago our U.S. President was tragically assassinated while riding through downtown in a motorcade with his wife and political associates.

I’ve grown up in the area, post-assassination, and so I must admit that in previous years things like the Dealey Plaza, the Book Depository/Museum, and all the conspiracy theories that linger to this day haven’t really piqued my interest.

But since moving to the city and being so close to the heart of downtown, my wonder at Dallas’ history (one that I feel is so easily covered up, or torn down) has grown.

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Recently I came upon a book called Dallas 1963 which chronicles the city’s leaders and mindset leading up to that fateful day. It’s hard to imagine some of the prevailing thoughts in our city at that time, less than a century ago. It can be heartbreaking at times to read, but I really suggest that you do pick up a copy.

Upon reflection, when you get past the greed, racism, and extremist political stances that are revealed throughout the book you might come to realize that the goals and missions of Dallas are still essentially the same. There’s a quote very early on in the biography that I think eloquently sums up Dallas:

“It (Dallas) emerges from the vast expanse of North Texas for almost no natural reason at all- no impressive waterfronts, no immediate natural resources. But Dallas has been willed into existence by creative, nimble entrepreneurs. They did it by remaining united, by tamping down divisiveness. If it is bad for business, it’s not allowed to thrive.” (pg. 19, Steven Davis, Bill Minutaglio) 

Even today Dallas is full of entrepreneurs and individuals seeking to fuel and better this city. At times it feels as if we have to justify this place. Perhaps that’s why so many are inclined to tear down historic buildings, in order to create shiny new ones- they’re ready to write another story for the city, to move on to new fronts… to do what’s good for business, which ultimately proves the good of Dallas.

It’s no secret that there’s money in Dallas, and money to be made. Maybe that’s the draw- we might not have mountains or beaches, but we are a city that provides opportunity, and I believe we’re a city that celebrates and encourages opportunity for each other. There’s support here.

While there were many  factors leading up to the heartbreaking event that happened in our city 51 years ago, I think that on this day we can celebrate the life and work of Kennedy. And we can also celebrate how quickly Dallas has shed its image as a “city of hate” and embraced a new era while keeping alive our mission and purpose as a city “willed into existence by creative, nimble entrepreneurs’.

 

Main Image Photo Credit: Stefan Ogrisek

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