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Symposium features officer who questioned JFK assassination suspect

Lee Harvey Oswald, arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, was shot Nov. 24, 1963, by Jack Ruby. Photo by Robert Jackson, Dallas Times Herald; winner of 1964 Pulitzer Prize.James Leavelle, a Dallas Police Department detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when the alleged assassin was shot, will discuss “50 Years Since the Assassination of John F. Kennedy" at the 2013 Texas History Symposium.

The symposium, presented by the Department of History, will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 20 in Wooten Hall, Room 122.

Kennedy historian and professor James Giglio of Southwest Missouri State University also will speak at the seminar.  

Leavelle’s question-and-answer session at the Texas History Symposium, “Just Doing My Job: JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald,” will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

  • Enter to win admission for two to the symposium by sending an email to InHouse with “Texas History” in the subject line by 5 p.m. April 12. Winner will be selected at random from all responses.
  • Register online for the symposium and lunch through 5 p.m. April 15. Faculty and staff admission is $10, free for students, $25 for public.

Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 23, 1963. The city of Dallas and the Sixth Floor Museum will host 50th anniversary commemorative events in November 2013.

Leavelle became famous in the photo, right, that showed Oswald grimacing after Jack Ruby shot him. Leavelle, who handcuffed himself to Oswald before stepping into a crowd of reporters in the police department basement, stands out in his tan suit and matching cowboy hat. Ruby, a Dallas night club owner, was angry about the assassination.

In a 2010 interview, Leavelle recalled that he didn’t have an assignment on Nov. 22, 1963, the day of Kennedy’s assassination. That changed when the president was shot, and Leavelle went to the Texas School Book Depository, now the Sixth Floor Museum, to collect statements. Soon after arriving, he volunteered to investigate the fatal shooting of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who pursued Oswald after he left the depository building.

After Oswald was arrested for Tippit’s murder, Leavelle was the first to interrogate him. On Nov. 24, Leavelle and Oswald were enroute to the county jail when Ruby killed Oswald. 

After his presentation, Leavelle will autograph personal photos for $10 with proceeds going to the Dallas Police Department.

Giglio, distinguished professor emeritus of history at Southwest Missouri State University, is author of “The Presidency of John F. Kennedy” and “John F. Kennedy: A Bibliography.”

Giglio will discuss “My Odyssey with John F. Kennedy” in a question-and-answer session from 10 to 11:30 a.m. He also will sign books from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

The iconic photo was taken by Dallas Times Herald photographer Robert H. Jackson, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the image.

  • Find more images in Legacies, a Dallas Historical Society publication, and other collections included in the Portal to Texas History collection of UNT Libraries.


Posted on: Tue 09 April 2013

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