I am delighted to announce the world premiere of “JFK. The Last Speech.” Five Amherst classmates —Neil Bicknell, the executive producer, and four other classmates and I as associate producers — had the privilege of working with producer-director Bestor Cram and Northern Light Productions to make this documentary. The film addresses the relevance of the JFK’s last speech at the time and the impact that it made in the lives of those who were there. I hope you enjoy it and ask your local PBS to air it!
“JFK The Last Speech” explores the dramatic relationship between two seminal Americans—President John F. Kennedy and the poet Robert Frost—which reached its tragic climax in a surprising encounter with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War.
Frost, a professor at Amherst, had “said” a poem at Kennedy’s inauguration, and John F Kennedy spoke at Amherst College in 1963 for the dedication of the new Robert Frost Library. JFK took the opportunity to address the future leaders in the audience – not just about poetry but about power and impact – and it has been called the “most majestic” speech of his career. He was assassinated just weeks later. However, few people knew the story behind the speech and the connection between John F. Kennedy and Robert Frost. The film addresses both this story, and how the speech altered the lives of a group of Amherst college classmates who witnessed this compelling address. He spoke of the obligation of those “given a running start in life” to serve the public interest.
“The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to a nation’s greatness. But the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable – for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.”
– John F. Kennedy, delivered at Amherst College October 26, 1963
This documentary about President Kennedy and Robert Frost explores the importance of their messages in contemporary America. Produced by an award-winning filmmaker, this film will ignite public discourse on enduring values and on our shared responsibility for the public interest. It is a call to action to rebuild our civic sphere — infused with broad sympathy, understanding, and compassion.
For more information about the event or to watch the trailer, please visit www.jfkthelastspeech.com.
Roger Mills is also the co-editor of a companion book, The Last Speech, available in late June, 2018.
“There is inherited wealth in this country and also inherited poverty. And unless the graduates of this college and other colleges like it who are given a running start in life—unless they are willing to put back into our society those talents, the broad sympathy, the understanding, the compassion—unless they are willing to put those qualities back into the service of the Great Republic, then obviously the presuppositions upon which our democracy are based are bound to be fallible.”
– John F. Kennedy, Amherst College October 26, 1963