In November 2023, I took the chance to visit the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. I was there to spend Halloween night in nearby Salem. The morning after our spooky adventure, I had a few hours on my hand and decided to check out the library and museum. I’d long wanted to go so I headed over, despite the very chilly, overcast weather. I didn’t expect to see an exhibit that would directly tie to my “Celebrating West Africa” theme, but lo-and-behold, I did!
The photo accompanying this story is of a dress worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962. The occasion was a state dinner being hosted in Washington, DC in honor of Ivory Coast president Felix Houphouet-Boigny. For those unaware, the Ivory Coast is located in West Africa and Houphouet-Boigny was its first democratically elected president. American president John F. Kennedy and his wife were ‘celebrating West Africa’ by welcoming their foreign counterparts to the White House. That’s where this dress, made by Oleg Cassini, was worn. You can learn more about the dinner here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh-GAZwEKBY
It truly was a coincidence for me to find this exhibit so soon after my African visit. It’s yet more evidence of how interwoven our histories are.