Reflection on JFK's Speech at Amherst

John F. Kennedy’s perspective on artists and how art is influential socially was fascinating. Towards the beginning of his speech, I was intrigued by how he kept relating back to the national purpose. It made me wonder about how the education that I am receiving is to help me to contribute to the national purpose. I found it very interesting that he stated that with the privilege of a college education, the responsibility of the student is to give back to the public interest. Because I am a religious individual, I love thinking about my purpose in life and how it relates to the greater good. I found this part of the speech very relatable.

Following this, Kennedy began to discuss men and power. I was confused when he said that “poetry reminds [man] of his limitations.” I somewhat understood that when he said that “poetry cleanses,” this is in an effort to humble man. My interpretation is that poetry is supposed to remind that individual that the world is far greater than himself.

In his conclusion related to artists, I found it very relevant that justice motivates any artist. Especially in art today, I notice many symbols that relate to social justice. For instance, Diego Rivera added a portrait of Trotsky to his mural in the Rockefeller Center, symbolizing his support of the communist party. Additionally, Kennedy argued that art is a form of truth, not propaganda. I disagree with this statement because I feel that any artist is biased towards their own preferences and exhibit that in their work opposed to exhibiting the truth. They may believe that their preferences are truth, but these opinions are likely not universal. Regardless, I was intrigued by Kennedy’s appreciation for artists and his perspectives on how art plays a social role.