Big Sandy Community and Technical College History Professors Dr. Tom Matijasic
and Dr. Don Barlow participated in the Ohio Valley History Conference on October 1-3
at Eastern Kentucky University.
Dr. Matijasic presented a paper entitled, Robert Kennedy among the Slovaks: Explaining
the Need for a Civil Rights Act. One of President John Kennedys top priorities in
1963 was the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
I demonstrated the manner in which the Kennedys tried to appeal to white ethnics in
Midwestern states, said Dr. Matijasic. My presentation highlighted the rhetorical
strategies employed by Attorney General Robert Kennedy when he addressed the Slovak
Sokol in Youngstown, Ohio on July 14, 1963. He skillfully exploited his familys immigrant
and religious background to connect with his audience and link the oppression of their
ancestors with that of African Americans.
Dr. Barlow moderated a session entitled, A Few Good Men: Clint Hill and the Secret
Service, Marines and JFK, and Army Officer Education JFK to Nixon, 1961-1969.
My session included three papers on military history, two of which touched on John
Kennedy's involvement in Vietnam and two Marine commanders who differed over our going
into that war, one saying No and the other believing we could do it by supporting
the South Vietnamese under Diem and with no proof that JFK really would have pulled
out, which is still a big controversy, said Dr. Barlow. Another paper covered the
story of a Secret Service Agent who was assigned to protect Jackie and who felt that
he failed to do his job that day. The third was about the declining standards for
admission into the military officer corps.