Lynchburg Civil Rights Leaders Reflect on JFK Assassination

Lynchburg, VA - The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a big hit to a community in the United States, hanging on his vision for the future.

November 22nd 1963, a day when hope was replaced with fear for so many African Americans at the peak of the civil rights movement.

Local leaders of that movement reflected on the day John F. Kennedy was killed.

It was a day this country would stand still; and in the fierce fight for civil rights equality, the fear of what would happen next, gripped an entire community.

At a desk in his basement, Garnell Stamps, fingers through pages of pain.

Time magazine clippings, poems he wrote, an elegy even to Robert Kennedy; all to remember the man he says was the hope of a generation.

"He was a marvel who talked about things like a new frontier, and about going to the moon and coming back, and about equality of the races, and fairness all over America" said Stamps.

For a 28 year old English teacher at Lynchburg's Dunbar High School, John F. Kennedy was something never before seen in the office of the President. Stamps was a young, passionate, civil rights leader in a still very segregated city, was overcome with sorrow, with worry, when his President was shot.

"They didn't cry tears in certain parts of the City of Lynchburg, for John Fitzgerald Kennedy" said Stamps.

"We lost, I think, a great American, and we continue to grieve" said Carl Hutcherson.

Former Lynchburg Mayor, Carl Hutcherson, 19 at the time of Kennedy's assassination, saw him as a kick start to actual action in this nation's push for civil equality.

"His legacy is that he was able to mend, if you will, a nation which had been separated, especially as it had been related to race" said Hutcherson.

50 years later, the wounds for these leaders have healed, civil rights is written in history. But the sorrow of seeing a promising President taken, will last forever.

President Lyndon Johnson would go on to accomplish many of the major achievements of the civil rights movement during his time in office. Both Stamps and Hutcherson spent Friday reflecting, and honoring JFK and the work he did for this country.