History Alumnus Gives Lecture
History Channel Expert Steve Gillon Discusses the Death of JFK
Dr. Steve Gillon
Scholar-in-residence at The History Channel, Gillon gives a lecture on the death of JFK.
As a student at Widener, Dr. Steve Gillon, ’78, now the go-to expert at The History Channel on the life and death of JFK, recalled walking through Alumni Auditorium and seeing a poster for a lecture on the conspiracy theories of John F. Kennedy’s death. Until then Gillon’s interest with history had been around American civilization, but it was this discussion that planted the seed for over 45 years of research. This is when Gillon’s fascination with the death of JFK began, and it led to his success as an author, professor and Scholar-in-Residence at The History Channel.
Gillon, who graduated with his bachelor’s in history, returned to campus during Honors Week to give a lecture on theories of JFK’s death, visit with professors, see his old room in Grasseli Hall, and speak during the Phi Alpha Theta, National History Honor Society induction ceremony.
One of the things that stuck with him most from his time at Widener was the intense interest the professors had in his success. One faculty mentor that Gillon credits to changing his life – Lawrence Buck, professor emeritus of history, was in attendance.
In his lecture, Gillon examined how theories about the assassination have evolved over time and what new information has come to light. He shared his analysis of the discrepancies in the Warren Commission Documents versus the theory of William Manchester’s “Death of a President.”
One thing Gillon pointed out was the lack of a complete profile of Lee Harvey Oswald. Regardless of the new information and theories, nothing has been able to withstand the test of time. Gillon believes that Americans need to find great meaning in JFK’s death and that it’s a critical point in American history, especially for the Baby Boomer generation.
Founding dean of a new Honors College and the Carol Elizabeth Young Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Gillon is one of the nation's leading experts on modern American history and politics. He has written or edited nearly a dozen books including: "Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation and How it Changed America" and "10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America." His next book "Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Politics of Race in Modern America" will come out later this year.
Gillon will return to Widener in May to give the commencement address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. He will also receive an honorary degree.