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Richard Goodwin’s ‘Seat To The 60s’

There are few people, indeed none that I can think of at the moment, who had a better seat to the 60s than Richard “Dick” Goodwin. A quick scan of his home office reveals photos of him with JFK, RFK, LBJ, Jackie Kennedy and Fidel Castro. I’m not quite sure why he wasn’t in the photograph of Che Guevara fishing, but I was still reeling from the stunning cigar box he got from Che.

Author Richard Goodwin receives a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Trustee Edward Collins during commencement ceremonies at UMass-Lowell. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

Author Richard Goodwin receives a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Trustee Edward Collins during commencement ceremonies at UMass-Lowell. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

Out of Harvard Law School, summa cum laude in 1958, he worked as law clerk to the legendary U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. He went to work for the Kennedy campaign, traveled the road with JFK, and wrote campaign speeches. In the new administration, he became assistant special council to the president. In 1961, when President Kennedy initiated an economic and pro-democracy initiative in South America called the Alliance for Progress, Goodwin was a key player and traveler.

After Kennedy’s assassination, Goodwin stayed on to work on the creation of the great society, as a special assistant to President Johnson, and drafted many of Johnson’s major speeches on civil rights.

Disillusioned with the war, Goodwin took an early exit and joined the anti-war movement in 1965. He joined the presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy when McCarthy challenged the president. Then when Bobby Kennedy announced his campaign to run for president, Goodwin jumped ship, and was with him when Kennedy was assassinated after winning the California primary.

From Jack Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson to Gene McCarthy to Bobby Kennedy, Goodwin had a front row seat to the sweep of it all, and delivered his breathtaking personal narrative in “Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties.”

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