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Three members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, photograph, ca. 1976

The 12-member Select Committee on Assassinations included, left to right, Representatives Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke of California, and Louis Stokes of Ohio. Stokes was the longest-serving chairman of the committee. A staff of 170 researchers and lawyers assisted them.

© Louis Stokes/U.S. House of Representatives

Three members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, photograph, ca. 1976

The Kennedy and King Assassinations

The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 galvanized the nation. A 1964 presidential commission report on the Kennedy murder failed to satisfy the public, and questions lingered about the King assassination. To bring closure to these tragedies, Representatives Thomas Downing of Virginia and Henry B. González of Texas, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, pressed for new investigations of both assassinations. In 1976 the House established the Select Committee on Assassinations.

Assassination is more than a deadly assault: It is an attack on the foundations of democracy . . . ; it undermines the political system . . . ; it produces fear among the citizenry

House Select Committee on Assassinations, Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations, 1979