The city of San Diego has a local connection to the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of JFK that many are not aware of. Five months before the President was shot in Dallas, he visited San Diego during the summer of 1963 to receive an honorary doctorate from administrators at San Diego State University.
Seth Mallios, a Kennedy expert who is chairman of SDSU's Anthropology Department said JFK's death took place about five months after he visited our city during a trip where he made extremely important speeches on peace, the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, and education rights.
"The summer of 1963 was the apex of his presidency," Mallios said.
The education speech came at San Diego State's commencement ceremony that June. He was in the midst of forcing the University of Alabama to integrate and the South wasn't a welcoming place, according to the professor. "He was able to address civil rights in a very safe spot in the West," Mallios said.
Mallios said the speech sparked a transformation that turned San Diego State from a college to a university. The president was actually late to the commencement address because he wanted to meet people, according to according to the Kennedy historian.
The Kennedy expert added that photos and film of Kennedy's visit to San Diego, where an estimated 250,000 lined the streets to catch a glimpse of him, are shocking by today's standards, with random people shaking his hand and even grabbing his face.
The end of such lax security was one of the legacies of the assassination, he said.