October 15, 2013
50 Years Later, JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories Remain

Was there one assassin or more? Did the Soviet Union play a role? These questions and more still intrigue historians as we near the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death.


Oakland Community College is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination with a lecture series that features presentations by renown JFK expert forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht on Oct. 25, and author James Douglass and playwright Ginny Cunningham on Nov. 8.


The lecture series is a labor of love for OCC faculty Ron Burda and Michael Vollbach, self-described JFK conspiracy theorists who have co-taught a popular class on the assassination of JFK since 1993.


The class covers the Kennedy presidency, events leading to his assassination, and culminates in a mock trial where students listen to testimony and deliberate, and reach a verdict, Vollbach said.


“This was a watershed moment in the history for our country,” said Burda, who was in the sixth grade when JFK was assassinated. “It was the first time in 60 to 70 years that a president was assassinated. There were three days of funeral processions; television coverage was 24-7, which was unusual at the time. Then Oswald was himself assassinated on national TV with the whole country watching. Those images were burned in our memories.”

Events are as follows:


Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D., Oct. 25

Reception: 6:30 p.m.

Lecture: 7:30-9:30 p.m.


In 1978, Dr. Cyril Wecht was appointed to a panel by the House Select Committee on Assassinations to aid their investigation of the assassination of JFK. The forensic pathologist is author or co-author of numerous books and articles, including his most recent, From Crime Scene to Courtroom and Cause of Death about the JFK assassination. He has been media consultant for many high profile death cases, including Robert F. Kennedy, Sharon Tate, Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey, Vincent Foster, Anna Nicole Smith, Caylee Anthony (Casey Anthony’s daughter), and JFK.

James Douglass and Ginny Cunningham, Nov. 8

Lecture and One Act Play Staged Reading

Lecture: 4 p.m.

Staged Reading: 7:30 p.m.


James W. Douglass’s lecture is based on his book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. The book advances the theory that, horrified by the specter of nuclear war (in part because of his experience with the Cuban Missile Crisis), JFK gradually turned away from Cold War beliefs, and this is directly responsible for his death. Douglass is a former adviser to the Vatican, and a former college professor of theology at several colleges including Notre Dame University.


Ginny Cunningham is a public relations expert who, inspired by Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable, wrote a one-act play based on the book. Actor Martin Sheen assembled a cast to do a similar dramatic reading to take place in Dallas on November 21, the eve of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.


Events are at the college’s Royal Oak campus. Tickets may be purchased here and between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at OCC’s Royal Oak Campus Bookstore. Limit four tickets per customer.


Oakland Community College is the largest community college in Michigan and ranks 23rd among the nation’s 1,200 associate degree-granting schools.  With five campuses throughout Oakland County, it offers degrees and certificates in more than 160 fields, including university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts, as well as workforce training and certificate programs.  Three quarters of a million students have enrolled at the college since it opened in 1965. 


#  #  #