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University of Michigan

November 2, 2020

Peace Corps 60th Anniversary

We’re marking the events in 1960 and 1961 that led to the creation of the Peace Corps. And we seek inspiration in how we can reimagine Peace Corps for a changed world. By WorldView Staff   At 2 a.m. on October 14 the Peace Corps community kicked off 60th anniversary celebrations with a once-a-decade gathering: We returned (virtually) to the steps of the student union at University of Michigan to commemorate the impromptu speech by John F. Kennedy that helped launch the Peace Corps. The questions that caught the zeitgeist: “How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana?...

October 9, 2020

JFK at the Union: The Impromptu Campaign Speech that Launched the Peace Corps

Well after midnight on October 14, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy arrived at the steps of the Michigan Union. Legend has it that he first proposed the idea of the Peace Corps here. The truth is a little more complex, but far more interesting. By James Tobin   Senator John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into Ann Arbor very early on the morning of Friday, October 14, 1960. The election was three and a half weeks away. The Democratic nominee for president and his staff had just flown into Willow Run Airport. A few hours earlier, in New York, Kennedy had fought Vice...