NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Throughout November, KERA marked the 50th anniversary of the President John F. Kennedy assassination with 22 Days In November, which took a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it affected Dallas, and more.Read more JFK coverage here. KERA News shared stories and memories in a series called “JFK Voices.” Read those stories and memories here.KERA wants to hear your JFK stories and memories. Email us at We may contact you or use your memory in an upcoming story.

50 Years Later, Dallasites Deliver The Speech That Kennedy Never Made

Jerome Weeks
The South Dallas Concert Choir sang the final lines that Kennedy was to deliver -- they sang on the floor of the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy was to speak.

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we take a look at a local effort to commemorate the anniversary -- a video project that captures parts of a speech that Kennedy was to deliver in Dallas. The project is being called a "tribute to JFK from the citizens of Dallas." The creators are determined that his words live on through Dallasites.

Fifty years ago this month, John F. Kennedy traveled in his motorcade through the streets of downtown Dallas, heading to the Dallas Trade Mart to deliver a 1 p.m. speech.

Then his limo entered Dealey Plaza – and the president never made it to the Trade Mart. He never delivered the speech.

But two British expats in Dallas are determined that JFK’s planned address – which has come to be known as “the Unspoken Speech” – lives on through Dallasites.

Over the past year, Cliff Simms and Peter Wood have created seven videos featuring Dallas residents who deliver highlights of Kennedy’s speech, word by word. Some hold up signs featuring his words. Others sing.

Since January, KERA's Jerome Weeks has followed Simms and Woodas they create “a tribute to JFK from the citizens of Dallas.” The videos have gained the British men international attention. Newspapers in Europe have interviewed them.

The videos will be shown publicly in Dallas later this month.

Dallas has been going through a kind of citywide spiritual exercise as it, once again, tries to figure out a way to commemorate something awful. This city has rarely done well when it comes to either history or self-reflection. So perhaps it’s not surprising that two British outsiders — with little money and no official sanction — have been contributing some of the more emotionally resonant memorial artworks for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

“How does the city pay tribute to the president in a unique manner?” Simms said.

Read more from KERA’s Jerome Weeks.

This video from KERA offers a behind-the-scenes look at the video project:

Here's the last of seven "Unspoken Speech" videos. This one features the South Dallas Concert Choir singing the final lines that Kennedy was to deliver, from the floor of the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was to make his address.

Here's the first of seven "Unspoken Speech" videos. This one features Dallasites holding signs that feature Kennedy's words.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.