On Sunday 18 June, ACU’s National Head of Arts, Professor Michael Ondaatje, will deliver a public lecture at Penrith Regional Gallery, on the first Catholic President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. Professor Ondaatje’s lecture will specifically focus on the Kennedy legacy on civil rights and African Americans.
Penrith Regional Gallery is the first Australian Gallery to exhibit American Visionary – The Life and Legacy of John F. Kennedy. The exhibition (27 May- 20 August) is supported by the US State Department through the US Consulate in NSW and comprises 77 photographs of the private and public life of President Kennedy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth (29 May).
Professor Ondaatje is one of a number of distinguished academics and public figures involved in the public program of events connected to the exhibition. Other speakers include James Curran, Professor of History at the University of Sydney, Stephen Loosley, former National President of the Australian Labor Party and currently Senior Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and Dr Anna Lebovic, from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
Professor Ondaatje said it was an honour to have been invited to speak about President Kennedy and civil rights to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth: “Kennedy is held up as an icon of civil rights by admirers and disparaged as a major disappointment by critics,” Ondaatje said. “In reality, he was a complicated leader, more pragmatic than visionary, who took the long road to civil rights but had impact beyond what many modern academic historians acknowledge”.
For more information on the exhibition and the event, please visit: