The Selma Times-Journal, an afternoon newspaper in 1963, shared the news of President Kennedy's assassination on the front of the Nov. 22, 1963 edition.
The Selma Times-Journal, an afternoon newspaper in 1963, shared the news of President Kennedy's assassination on the front of the Nov. 22, 1963 edition.

Residents recall the moments they learned of Kennedy’s death

Published 11:25pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tragedy struck the nation 50 years ago — Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 — when then President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in a Dallas motorcade.

Kennedy, 46 at the time, was immediately transported to Parkland Hospital, near the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was scheduled to make a speech later in the day.

He died about an hour after the shooting, at the hospital.

His death sent shockwaves throughout the nation and many Selma residents recall the day’s events vividly.

Selma-Dallas County Library director Becky Nichols said she was in 11th grade English class at A.G. Parrish High School when the school’s loudspeaker suddenly turned on.

“‘The president has been shot,’” Nichols recalled the loudspeaker announcing. “I will never forget the stunning silence that followed. It felt like the world had suddenly come to a screeching halt.”

Nichols said she didn’t follow politics closely at the time, but immediately became worried about what would happen next.

“There was a sense of what happens to our country now,” she said. “There was a sense that he had leadership and charisma that had never been in the White House before. I can remember my mom and dad talking late into the night about it all.”

Jan Parker was a young girl, living in Eufala ,at the time. Parker was celebrating a fifth birthday which suddenly didn’t mean quite as much.

“Maybe it was just what happened that day or that it was November, but everything seemed black,” she said. “I remember it was being dark and rainy and everyone was so sad. I can still see everybody sitting around the black and white TV.”

Parker said she was excited to see relatives, but more thrilled about her birthday present.

“Barbie dolls had probably come out a year before that,” she said. “My mom said I could get one for my birthday. I went back to my bedroom to play with it because no one would say a word.”

Since then, Parker says she has developed a fascination with the Kennedy family, perhaps stemming from the events of her fifth birthday.

“I have read everything I can about Jackie,” she said. “I even took a one-day trip to New York to see Jackie’s clothes and I think it is all from that day.”

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