Inspired by Kennedy’s call to public service

Kathy Stiles Freeland

Kathy Stiles Freeland

Age 15 in 1963

When she heard Kennedy was shot, Kathy went numb with shock and fear.

50 years ago today I was a sophomore at Phillips High School in Birmingham and in class when we were told President Kennedy had been shot and later died. I went numb with shock and fear. Our leader was gone. What would happen next? What I remember most vividly was how sickened I was that some of my classmates actually cheered. I had been inspired by his call to public service but others hated him for what was going on in Birmingham regarding desegregation. An ugliness I would have to deal with most of my life growing up in Birmingham was revealed as its most evil self in those cheers.

Kathy Stiles Freeland wrote this as a Facebook post on November 22, 2013, 50 years after Kennedy’s death. It is posted at Kids in Birmingham 1963 with her permission.