About the Series 

Kennedy Library Forums are a series of public affairs programs offered by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to foster public discussion on a diverse range of historical, political and cultural topics reflecting the legacy of President and Mrs. Kennedy's White House years.

How to Attend

All Forums are free and open to the public. Reservations are strongly recommended, and may be made by clicking the "Register" link in each upcoming Forum listing below, or by calling 617-514-1643. Registration guarantees a seat in the building, but not in the main hall. Doors to the main hall open approximately one hour before the start of each program.

View Live Webcasts / Access Recordings

Kennedy Library Forums are webcast live and recorded whenever possible. Written transcripts of most recorded events are also available. Visit the Forum Video Archive or our YouTube channel to view past forums.


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Kennedy Library Forum Sponsors

Julian Bond
Benjamin Jealous Patricia Sullivan

Civil Rights: Then and Now - December 10, 2009

December 10, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

On the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, CEO and President Benjamin Jealous, and Chairman Julian Bond reflected on past achievements and the challenges ahead for the organization. Professor Patricia Sullivan, author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, moderated.

Vicki Kennedy
Mike Barnicle, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss, and EJ Dionne Mike Barnicle, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss

True Compass:  The Life of Senator Edward M. Kennedy - December 3, 2009

December 3, 2009 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Victoria Reggie Kennedy introduced historians Michael Beschloss,Doris Kearns Goodwin and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who discussed Senator Kennedy's memoir, True Compass; his role in history and his legacy. Political analyst, Mike Barnicle, moderated.

This special forum was co-sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Future of Cuba forum

The Future of Cuba - November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Jorge Dominguez, Professor of Latin American Politics at Harvard University; Adriana Bosch, writer and director of the PBS documentary Fidel Castro; and Carlos Saladrigas, co-chair of the Miami based Cuban Study Group, spoke about the history of Cuba-US relations and what lies ahead. Tom Gjelten, NPR correspondent and author of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause, moderated.

Covering Obama forum

Covering Obama - November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Journalists Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker;Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times and columnist for Politics Daily; and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek and author of Renegade: The Making of a President, analyzed the media's coverage of President Obama's first year in office. Commentator Callie Crossley of WGBH's Beat the Press moderated. 

*Ryan Lizza was unable to participate due to illness.

Michael Sandel
A Conversation about Justice with Michael Sandel A Conversation about Justice with Michael Sandel audience

A Conversation about Justice with Michael Sandel - October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Professor Michael Sandel discussed his new book, Justice: What's the Right Thing To Do? (based on his legendary and influential Harvard course), with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.


IM Pei
Tribute to IM Pei Tribute to IM Pei

A Tribute to I.M. Pei - October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

To mark the 30th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Kennedy Library hosted a tribute to its architect and visionary, I.M. Pei.  Family, colleagues and critics reflected on his extraordinary career with PBS host, Charlie Rose.

Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism and the Presidency

Presidency in the Nuclear Age:  Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism and the Presidency - October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Following an address by President Bill Clinton (via video), the final panel, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism and the Presidency, featured Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard University; Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations; Graham Allison, Professor of Government at Harvard University; and moderated by Tom Gjelten, NPR correspondent.


Caroline Kennedy
The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race panel The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race panel

Presidency in the Nuclear Age: The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race - October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Caroline Kennedy introduced an address by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (via video), which was followed by the third panel, The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race, featuring Kenneth Adelman, Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the Reagan administration; Thomas Graham, Jr., Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Non-Proliferation, and Disarmament in the Clinton administration; Richard Rhodes, author of Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race; Nicholas Thompson, author of The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan and the History of the Cold War; and moderated by Marvin Kalb, veteran journalist and author.


Graham Allison, Ted Sorensen, Carl Kaysen, and Timothy Naftali

Presidency in the Nuclear Age:  Cuban Missile Crisis and the First Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009

The second panel, Cuban Missile Crisis and the First Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, featured Ted Sorensen, Special Counsel to President Kennedy; Carl Kaysen, Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to President Kennedy; Graham Allison, Professor of Government at Harvard University; and moderated by Tim Naftali, Director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.


William D. Miscamble, Richard Rhodes, and Jennet Conant

Presidency in the Nuclear Age:  The Race to Build the Bomb and the Decision to Use It.  - October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

President George H.W. Bush made opening remarks (via video) at this one-day conference – sponsored by the nation's 13 Presidential Libraries – that examined how the Presidency and US foreign policy have been reshaped by the advent, use and spread of nuclear weapons.

The first panel, The Race to Build the Bomb and the Decision to Use It, featured Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb; Wilson D. Miscamble, Professor of History and University of Notre Dame; and Jennet Conant, author of 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos.


Madeleine Albright

A Conversation with Madeleine Albright - October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed her new book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box, with former Governor of Vermont and author of Pearls, Politics and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead, Madeleine Kunin.

A Moveable Feast A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast - September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Sean Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's grandson; Adam Gopnik, New Yorker writer and author of Paris to the Moon; and Diane Johnson, author of Le Mariage and Le Divorce, discussed the restored edition of Hemingway's Parisian classic, A Moveable Feast, with Scott Simon, host of NPR's Saturday Weekend Edition.

Lillian Ross and Susan Morrison

A Conversation with Lillian Ross - June 9, 2009

June 9, 2009 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

To mark the 110th anniversary of Hemingway’s birth, Lillian Ross reflected on her famous 1950 New Yorker profile of the Nobel-prize winning author, and what she has learned about writing and writers throughout her career. Ms. Ross was joined by her New Yorker editor, Susan Morrison.

Tribute to John Updike

A Tribute to John Updike - June 7, 2009

June 7, 2009 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Authors Nicholson Baker, Samuel Shem (pen-name of Dr. Stephen Bergman) and Anne Bernays; editor and journalist Charles McGrath; critic and scholar William Pritchard; and family members paid tribute to John Updike, who passed away on January 27, 2009 at the age of 76. Radio/internet host Christopher Lydon was Master of Ceremonies. This program was presented in conjunction with PEN New England.

Max Kennedy
Ted Widmer

A Conversation with Max Kennedy - May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

In honor of Memorial Day, Max Kennedy, son of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy, discussed his new book, Danger’s Hour: The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her, with Brown University historian Ted Widmer.


Steven Ford
Bruce Schulman, Steven Ford and Carla Hills Benton Becker and Richard Norton Smith

The Presidency of Gerald Ford - May 3, 2009

May 3, 2009 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Steven Ford, son of President Ford; Carla Hills, who served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Ford administration; Benton Becker, advisor to President Ford; and historian Richard Norton Smith discussed his legacy. Bruce Schulman, professor of History at Boston University, moderated. This forum is part of the Library's series examining 20th-century presidents.

Ali Allawi
Corey Flintoff

The Future of Islam - April 27, 2009

April 27, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Ali Allawi, former Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance in the Iraqi Transitional Government, discussed his new book, The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, with NPR correspondent Corey Flintoff.

First 100 Days forum

The First 100 Days - April 13, 2009

April 13, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Jonathan Alter, Senior Editor and columnist for Newsweek and author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, and Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy and Senior Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, offered observations regarding the early days of the Obama administration. Ted Widmer, historian and former Clinton speechwriter, moderated.


Garrison Keillor

An Afternoon with Garrison Keillor - April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

This forum was postponed.

Richard Rhodes

PEN Hemingway Awards - March 29, 2009

March 29, 2009 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Patrick Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's sole surviving son, and author Richard Russo bestowed the annual PEN/Hemingway Award to Michael Dahlie for his first book of fiction, A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living. Rebecca Goldstein introduced the ceremony's keynote speaker, Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. The Kennedy Library is the major repository of Ernest Hemingway's works.

Governor Patrick

A Town Hall Meeting with Governor Deval Patrick - March 26, 2009

March 26, 2009 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick discussed current issues facing Massachusetts citizens in a televised Town Meeting format moderated by NECN anchor R.D. Sahl.

Foreign Policy Chalenges Facing the Nation forum

Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Nation - March 16, 2009

March 16, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Ambassador Nicholas R. Burns, former Undersecretary of State and Professor of International Politics at Harvard University, and Andrew Bacevich, Professor of International Relations at Boston University, discussed the nation’s foreign policy challenges with Martha Raddatz, Chief Foreign Correspondent for ABC News.

"No, not both. I'm permitting you Galbraith or Goldwater."

Presidential Cartoonists - February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Dan Wasserman of The Boston Globe, Mike Luckovich of the The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader shared their favorite cartoons from the 2008 presidential campaign. Robin Young, host of WBUR's Here and Now, moderated.

Bob Herbert, Dolores Huerta, and Marian Wright Edelman

Poverty and Social Justice Challenges Facing the Nation - February 8, 2009

February 8, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, and Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, discussed the social, economic and educational challenges facing this country. New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert moderated.

Change Haiti Can Believe in

Change Haiti Can Believe In - January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health; actor and activist Matt Damon, who recently visited Haiti to assist victims devastated by hurricanes; Massachusetts State Representative and Haitian-American Linda Dorcena Forry; and Brian Concannon, Jr., director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, shared their stories of eradicating disease and injustice in one of the world's poorest nations, and discussed how changes in US policy can help to build a stronger, more resilient, and prosperous Haiti. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, moderated.

James Fallows and Lincoln Chen

Postcards from China - January 25, 2009

January 25, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic, who had been living in China for the last two years, discussed his book, Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China, with the founder of Harvard University's Global Equity Initiative, Dr. Lincoln Chen

Gwen Ifill
Gwen Ifill and Bob Herbert Gwen Ifill and Bob Herbert

A Conversation with Gwen Ifill - January 22, 2009

January 22, 2009 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Gwen Ifill, host of PBS' Washington Week, discussed her new book, The Breakthrough: Politics in the Age of Obama, with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert.

Roger Wilkins and Callie Crossley

Civil Rights in the Age of Obama - January 19, 2009

January 19, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and civil rights leader Roger Wilkins reflected on the state of American race relations, the evolution of our electoral politics, and Barack Obama's historic election with journalist Callie Crossley.

Ted Sorensen
Ted Widmer

The Writing of the Inaugural Address - January 11, 2009

January 11, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Ted Sorensen, Special Counsel to President Kennedy, reflected on the writing of President Kennedy's inaugural address and discussed what to look for during the January 20, 2009 inauguration with historian and former Clinton speechwriter Ted Widmer.