Assassinations, Political Legacies of JFK, RFK and MLK Examined by Experts

Forty years after the assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, and 45 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, questions still abound about both the circumstances and impact of their murders.

On the cusp of another historic presidential election, voters and historians alike ponder why these men died, what they might have become, and what their political legacies are today. To achieve a better understanding of not only the cases themselves but also their historical contexts, the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law is presenting Making Sense of the Sixties: A National Symposium on the Assassinations and Political Legacies of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, from Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5 in the University’s Power Center Ballroom.

From matters of ballistics and trajectories to questions of conspiracy and cover-up, these three cases present fascinating and important topics for students of all ages and disciplines.

Some of the speakers and experts at Making Sense of the Sixties include:

  • Isaac Farris Jr., chief executive officer of The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and MLK’s nephew
  • William Pepper, counsel for RFK’s convicted killer Sirhan Sirhan and the former counsel for MLK’s convicted killer, James Earl Ray
  • The Honorable Joe Brown, host of Judge Joe Brown and the former state criminal court judge in Tenn., who presided over Ray’s appeals

“New evidence uncovered through forensics questions what we think we already know about the details of these assassinations, from ballistics to conspiracy theories,” said Dr. Fred Fochtman, director of the institute. “Especially as we approach another election, we face questions about how these leaders might have changed the political arena. Their assassinations have left an indelible mark on American culture and still fascinate scientists, academics and the public, including people who remember those fateful days and others who are just learning about them.”

For a complete schedule, list of speakers and to register, call 412.396.1330 or visit

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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