18th in the Series
Today as the country observes the death of Edward M. Kennedy at age 77, it is noteworthy to recall that he delivered the 61st Alfred M. Landon Lecture on Public Issues at Kansas State University on January 30, 1984. The senator from Massachusetts spoke on "The Changing Relationship Between Politics and Public Policy."
Arriving 35 minutes late because his flight had been delayed, Senator Kennedy spoke to a capacity crowd of 1,800 people in McCain Auditorium. The senator criticized President Ronald Reagan for a number of his recent policies. President Reagan delivered a Landon Lecture in 1982 and in 1967 while serving as governor of California. Senator Kennedy's brother, Robert, presented a Landon Lecture in 1968, his first public speech after announcing his candidacy for president. He was assassinated a few months later.
The Kansas State Collegian reported that, unlike previous lectures, no protests or disturbances took place. The people who crowded outside McCain Auditorium appeared more interested in meeting the senator than protesting. John Carlin, governor of Kansas, and Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Alf Landon's daughter, attended the lecture.
Twenty-five years ago Senator Kennedy addressed a number of issues that sound familiar today including the use of American troops in foreign countries. He stated that he opposed "...the policy of scorning human rights [in El Salvador], and then putting 5,000 American troops on permanent maneuvers in Honduras...Central America must be an issue in this [presidential] campaign--so that afterwards we will not go to war by the back door, with our people divided and deceived. History has taught us in anguish and retreat the folly of that course." A text of Senator Kennedy's speech is available in the University Archives and an audio version is accessible through the K-State Landon Lecture Series home page.
Named after Alfred M. Landon, former governor of Kansas, the lecture series began in 1966. It is considered one of the most prestigious of its kind in the United States. During the 2009-2010 academic year Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Sheila C. Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, are scheduled to present the 154th and 155th Landon Lectures.
Tony Crawford, University Archivist