With the 2016 Presidential election in the rearview mirror, the presidency has been on all of our minds lately. But back in 1959, the students got to hear from one of the country’s most iconic presidents: John F. Kennedy.
Then a Senator representing Massachusetts, Kennedy hadn’t even declared his intent to run for President in 1960 when he visited campus on April 27 to speak to 5,500 students at the Spring Convocation held in Cole Field House. He was joined on stage by University of Maryland President Wilson Elkins and Dean James Borreson.
Kennedy “called for more students to enter politics and stressed the need for the American people to do their duty in these days of world crisis.”
While many in attendance enjoyed the speech and Kennedy’s charisma, others reportedly felt the Senator should have taken a harder stance on civil rights and foreign policy issues.
Kennedy visited the campus once more, on May 14, 1960, before his assassination in November 1963. In that appearance, Kennedy spoke on the eve of the Maryland primary and left Ritchie Coliseum holding on to a stuffed Testudo.
The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper, and its coverage of campus events provides an invaluable perspective on the university’s history. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is currently available on microfilm in the University Archives and McKeldin Library. This post is the part of a series based on information collected during the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on our Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts. Look out for more DigiDBK posts from our team throughout the coming months!