Teaching John F. Kennedy Through Film and Television

For the next entry in our series on Presidents, we’ll look at John F Kennedy. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States. He served as president from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Despite his short tenure in office, he is often remembered as one of the greatest presidents. During his presidency, many impactful events rocked the nation and the world that he had to deal with. In this blog post, we’ll look at some Film, Television, and Documentary clips that explore these events and how Kennedy handled them. But First, in case your classroom isn’t that familiar with his background, watch this clip from Biography.com that summarizes his life quickly.

Biography: John F. Kennedy Mini Bio

It also might be wise to remind your classroom about what was happening in his era of history. In this clip from Crash Course: US History, John Green takes a deep dive into the United States in the 1960’s, inculding the Civil Rights Movement, the beginning of the Vietnam War, and more. Kennedy’s Presidency is featured heavily at the beginning of the video so it also acts as a nice summary.

Crash Course: US History: The 1960s in America

Among Kennedy’s most notable achievements, his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis is often praised. This is the subject of the film Thirteen Days. In this clip, Kennedy and his cabinet decide what to do about the Soviet Union’s decision to bring missiles so close to the United States.

Thirteen Days: Cuban Missile Crisis

Another great way to teach Kennedy in the classroom is to show actual footage of him speaking. In this famous speech ay the Berlin Wall, Kennedy advocates for the wall to be torn down.

NBC News Learn: John F. Kennedy’s Speech at the Berlin Wall

Of course, among the many reasons Kennedy is so remembered is his assassination. In the film JFK, the investigators theorize how he was killed.

JFK: The Magic Bullet

Finally, as an added treat, show your classroom this scene from Forrest Gump, where the title character was digitally added into real footage with Kennedy.

Forrest Gump: Forrest Has to Pee

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