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20th Anniversary of 6th Floor Museum in Dallas


By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – A new exhibit opens today at the Sixth Floor Museum in downtown Dallas. It marks the 20th anniversary of the museum that chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. KERA's BJ Austin says the exhibit's centerpiece is a famous, Pulitzer Prize wining photo that shows what happened AFTER the assassination.

Last minute work greeted Bob Jackson as he arrived at the museum for a preview of his exhibit. It's titled: "A Photographer's Story: Bob Jackson and the Kennedy Assassination. The former Dallas Times Herald photographer was assigned to the motorcade of President and Mrs. Kennedy November 22, 1963. But it was a photo he took two days later, when Jack Ruby shot suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters that won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Looking at the black and white, larger-than-life print of his famous photo during a walk-thru of the exhibit, Jackson says the assignment was in-a-way routine that day. He was waiting for the police to walk the suspect out of headquarters.

Jackson: You know, it was a simple shot. But this one, of course, is one you don't want to miss. I was looking through the camera. I was pre-focused, a straight flash. And it just came together. I couldn't have planned it any better. If I had waited another second, Ruby would have been between me and Oswald. I don't even like to think what that would have been like. So, I guess it was meant to be.

Then, Jackson says, it got really chaotic. A police officer had his hand over Jackson's camera and was trying to push him away. But he was able to snap another important shot. It was the wounded Oswald being loaded into an ambulance.

Jackson: And by then, they'd taken Ruby and Oswald into the building. So, it was just wait til the ambulance came and try to get a shot -- which is that.

Austin: Is that the last, or one of the last photos of Oswald?

Jackson: Ah, I guess you could say it was.

Austin: You know that's gotta be the last shot of him alive

Jackson: I think it might be because Frank Johnston, the photographer for UPI who was there, has a picture of him on the stretcher and it's more full length. It's before they picked the stretcher up and lifted him in. And now that you mention it, that could be the last one - before he went into the ambulance. Never thought about that.

The Sixth Floor Museum says there is some FILM of Oswald arriving at the emergency room before he was pronounced dead. Bob Jackson says he never expected his black and white photographs to be part of such a large exhibit. He says he was so busy doing his job that November weekend, he never thought about being part of history.

Send E-mail to BJ Austin