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Videotaped 45th anniversary program with Rev. William A. Holmes titled "Impressions of Jack Kennedy". As minister of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Holmes gave a powerful and controversial sermon on Sunday, November 24, 1963, in which he addressed the topic of the guilt that the community of Dallas should feel for having permitted the assassination to happen in their home town. As part of his sermon he briefly mentioned that some Dallas schoolchildren cheered upon learning of President Kennedy's death. Later that week, he read portions of his sermon for broadcast nationally on CBS, bringing international attention to both Holmes and the city of Dallas.
Program conducted at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on November 21, 2008. The program is one-hour and twenty-six minutes long.
The video attached to this record is an excerpt. The entire program is available in our Reading Room to on-site researchers or by submitting a Rights & Reproductions Request Form.
In this 2008 public program, the Rev. Holmes preached the same sermon that he gave at Northaven United Methodist Church on the Sunday following the Kennedy assassination. He also revealed for the first time in public the name of the teacher who, as a member of his congregation, had shared with him the story of schoolchildren in her classroom cheering upon hearing of the assassination of President Kennedy.
In 1963, Holmes' sermon prompted death threats from people who didn't like his public criticism of Dallas, forcing the Holmes family to move out of their home for a week. Holmes received hundreds of letters from around the world in response to his sermon, some written by people who supported his sentiments and some who disagreed.
In addition to this program, the Rev. Holmes recorded oral history interviews with the Museum in 2007 and 2008. He also donated his collection of correspondence related to the1963 sermon to the Museum's collection. - Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator
There were several reports of schoolchildren in Texas and elsewhere having cheered after learning they were being let out of school early. Whether some cheered that Kennedy was shot or for another reason is not known or, at least, not well documented. KRLD news director Eddie Barker, who thought his children attended the Dallas school referred to by Rev. Holmes, learned from their teachers that no such cheering occurred. Like several areas of the Kennedy assassination story, this controversy may never be resolved. - Gary Mack, Curator
Dallas and 1960s History and Culture (OHC)
Holmes, William A.