This post was written by Hatchet reporter Emily Cirillo.
Fifty years after revolutionizing the role of first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis remains an American icon of both sophistication and boldness, her daughter Caroline Kennedy told a crowd at Lisner Auditorium on Monday night.
“My mother was bored with U.S. history because there were not enough women,” Kennedy said. “She changed that.”
The first lady made headlines during her husband’s short tenure and continues this tradition even years after her death. Caroline Kennedy released seven and a half hours of conversations between her mother and historian Arthur Schlesinger this month, where the first lady frankly discusses the Cuban Missie Crisis and Lyndon Johnson.
The tapes, which were previewed at the event, revealed raw and tender recordings of Kennedy Onassis just months after her husband was killed.
“My mother knew that future generations would benefit from the truth and how she saw it,” Kennedy said.
During one conversation, Kennedy Onassis, who graduated from the University in 1951, recalled her husband’s obsessive reading habit, bringing books in the bathtub, his dressing room and even on walks around the White House.
Kennedy said her mother always fought for what she wanted, from massive White House renovations to the preservation of foreign art and the kindling of diplomatic ties across the world.
With her fervent and relentless pursuits, she intimidated her husband’s administration, Kennedy recalled.
“She wanted to make history come alive and give us a human glimpse of people working in the White House,” said Kennedy.“I wanted people to see what my mother really thought. What is unsaid is almost as interesting as what was said.”
Michael Beschloss, co-author of Kennedy’s new book about her mother, joined president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Michael Kaiser, to share memories of the Kennedy family legacy.
“Mrs. Kennedy knew that arts were at the core of our human condition, that they provided powerful links to a common humanity,” Kaiser said.