Newsreel footage shows cheers turning to shrieks, as TV announcers break into soap operas with bulletins. Soon there would be nonstop coverage, which, though common now, was like nothing seen before on television. Broadcasts brought the nation together in a shared experience of bewilderment and grief.
Just as today's generation remembers the moment of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the memory of Nov. 22, 1963, remains crystalline and, inevitably, becomes a teaching tool.
"All of a sudden, we heard all of these rumors. Then somebody had a transistor radio," recalls Spivey, then a high school student, describing how he brings the moment to life in class today. "And I remember standing by the lockers, just listening. ... Students crying, in this predominantly black school in Chicago, kids saying, 'What's going to happen to us now?'"
Hundreds of miles east, Hine was heading into high school debate team practice, where at first everyone thought a student was joking when he blurted the inconceivable news. He wasn't kidding, though, and the feeling absorbed then has resonated ever since.
"Up until that point," Hine said, "there was this widespread belief in big business, big government, big thinking to lead us into a better future. The assassination didn't completely undo this, but it showed that some things are far more fragile than we ever imagined them to be."
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