RICHMOND – 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 Kennedy’s top priorities in 1963 was the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
“I demonstrated the manner in which the Kennedy’s 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 family’s 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.”