Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, was John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday. We remember him as the man who was the first Irish-Catholic president, as a man with the sharp wit and a beautiful family, as a man with perfect class, so missing in Washington today. He was the man most responsible for putting Americans on the moon. He was the first president in the 20th century to stand up for civil rights, essentially giving his life to have those bills passed, exactly as he wrote them, by President Johnson in the years following his death. He was the man who faced nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis and who signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, making the world a safer place. He worked at his office and managed to inspire young people.
Happy Birthday, Mr. President. You made a difference.
A recent article, The Myth of John F. Kennedy In Film and Television by Gregory Frame in 49 Film & History Issue 6, page 21 (Winter 2016) tells how President John F. Kennedy continues to cast an enormous shadow on U.S. politics, despite the relatively short duration of his tenure. His impact on American culture, history, and society is far from settled, with liberals wondering, for example, whether Kennedy would have withdrawn from Vietnam and would have sustained the cause of Civil Rights and with conservatives wondering how his personal character would have played out politically and whether his gun-shy approach to the military would have subverted American hegemony.
For a fascinating look at the legacy of President Kennedy, read the article by accessing it through the Brooklyn Law School Library’s OneSearch platform at this link. As the author concludes: “Holding on to the myth of Kennedy is like holding on to the myth of American exceptionalism, the eternally young nation, springing into the future with masculine vigor and promise and purpose. How much more desperate does a nation become for that myth after a financial crisis (2008) and extended wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), with little manifest appeal from its president (G.W. Bush) either to the intelligence of bookish academics or to the conscience of an international community? . . . . What yearning for the myth of JFK will emerge under Donald Trump? Or has reality television displaced myth as the paradigm for civic intelligence? Historians suggest that the presidency of John F. Kennedy might have been mediocre but that he nonetheless grasped the changing nature of politics in an image-dominated age; that he deserves credit for the skill with which he developed such an enduring image in the first place. And perhaps he does, for that image presides over the most powerful force in American culture: film and television.”
Also in OneSearch is a review by Iwan Morgan of The Cambridge Companion to John F. Kennedy by Andrew Hoberek available at this link. In the review, the author notes that “Modernity is the theme of many essays ranging from . . . exploration of Kennedy’s unprecedented and still unmatched capacity to project himself on television as the epitome of cool when alive to the significance of the Camelot legacy.” Kennedy’s modernity was more symbol than substance. His brief tenure has become an infinitely renewable resource of hope for anyone invested in the promise of the United States.
In the past few years, there has been increased discussion of the growth in America’s prison population to more than 2 million Americans incarcerated, many of them drug offenders, for periods that seem far too long. Since the publication in 2010 of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, there has been more scholarship on the topic of mass incarceration. In a title added last year to the Brooklyn Law School Library collection, From the War on Poverty to the War On Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton (Call No. HV9950 .H56 2016), the topic get detailed attention.
The author, an Assistant Professor at Harvard University and urban historian, argues that mass incarceration is not just a conservative backlash to the civil rights movement but an initiative of both of the major political parties. In the book, Hinton traces mass incarceration, often based on assumptions about the cultural inferiority African-Americans, back to the 1960s, from the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to that of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The Democrats passed the The Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act of 1961 which portrayed black youth as being in need of repair rather than justice. At the same time when President Johnson’s War on Poverty sought to foster equality and economic opportunity, his administration advanced initiatives rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans’ role in urban disorder. Johnson called for a War on Crime in 1965 when he created the Office of Law Enforcement Assistance, which significantly increased federal involvement in militarizing local police. From the late 1960s starting with Richard Nixon’s law and order campaign to the 1980s administration of Ronald Reagan, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality as initiatives that were the full realization of the punitive transformation of urban policy implemented by both parties.
A search of the BLS Library OneSearch platform will lead readers to a recent review of Hinton’s book in the February 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 107 Issue 2) under the title Reckoning with the Rise of the Carceral State by David H. Cloud. For more on the topic, the BLS Library has ordered for its collection a new title, Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform by John F. Pfaff, Professor of Law at Fordham Law School. The book describes a fractured criminal justice system, where many counties do not pay for the people they send to state prisons, and white suburbs set law and order agendas for more-heavily minority cities.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Organic Act which Congress passed to create in the Department of the Interior the National Park Service. The aim of the law was “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
When the law was enacted, there were already 35 national monuments and parks including Yosemite National Park established in 1864 and Yellowstone National Park established in 1872. Today, the National Park Service has 140 national monuments and parks, 128 historical parks or sites, 25 battlefields or military sites, 19 preserves, 18 recreation areas, 10 seashores, four parkways, four lakeshores, and two reserves. The biggest park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska established in 1980 containing 13.2 million acres. It is the same size as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the country of Switzerland combined. The smallest site is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia established in 1972 sitting on 0.02 acres. The highest point in the system is Denali (or Mount McKinley) at 20,320 feet. The lowest accessible point is Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level. The newest National Monument is Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine which President Barack Obama designated this week for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. See NPR web page In Maine, Land From Burt’s Bees Co-Founder Is Declared A National Monument discussing the controversial designation of the woods as protected territory especially from locals concerned about federal oversight of lands that used to be central to the regional economy.
With an annual budget of $2.6 billion, the National Park Service has about 20,000 direct employees and supports 240,000 local jobs generating $27 billion for the U.S. economy. More than 307 million people visited Park Service locations in 2015 compared to 1920 when NPS sites were visited by 1 million people. Brooklyn does not have a national park but this week Brooklyn Bridge Park hosted a National Park Service celebrating the100th anniversary of its founding. Nearby sites such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are both part of the NPS. Other NPS locations in New York City include the African Burial Ground National Monument, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site and Castle Clinton National Monument.
Brooklyn Law School Library users can explore OneSearch to find a large set of articles about the history of the National Park Service such as the National Parks: America’s BEST Idea? from Parks & Recreation Aug 2016, Vol. 51 Issue 8, page 44.
The 3rd annual Library Research Fair will be held on Tuesday, September 30, 2014. The fair will be held in the Student Lounge from 12Noon to 3:00pm. Representatives from the following companies will be here to demonstrate their databases:
- Bloomberg Law
- CALI (Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction)
- Wolters Kluwer
In addition, the Library will have a table to demonstrate our new One Search database.
Come and learn how these databases will help you with your legal research. There will be handouts, light refreshments, prizes and raffles for a Kindle Fire and $50.00 gift cards.
So, save the date: Tuesday, September 30th, 12Noon to 3:00pm, Student Lounge.
See you there!
The Fall semester has started and everyone at the BLS Library is looking forward to working with you towards a successful new year.
Just a few reminders –
The Library has resumed its regular hours
- Monday – Thursday 8:00 am – 12:00 am
- Friday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Saturday 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Sunday 10:00 am – 12:00 am
Reference Desk Hours
- Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Saturday Noon – 5:00 pm
If you haven’t done it already, check out OneSearch on the Library’s Web page. You can now search the catalog plus multiple databases using this new service.
And don’t forget the Library’s Chat Service, also available on our web page. Librarians are available to chat during regularly scheduled reference hours. If you do not get a response back, please leave your email address or phone number, and someone will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
Looking forward to working with you in the coming year!