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50 years later, still questions on Oswald's New Orleans roots

By Blake Hanson
Published On: Nov 22 2013 06:23:04 AM HST
Updated On: Nov 22 2013 09:06:16 AM HST

An professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, who has taught a course for 40 years regarding the Kennedy assassination and Oswald's New Orleans
connections, reflects on the killer's connections to the Crescent City.

NEW ORLEANS -

As many Americans reflect on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, many in southeast Louisiana look back at the local connection to the killer.

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"It's an unsolved mystery as far as I'm concerned," said Dr. Michael Kurtz, a Southeastern Louisiana University professor emeritus who has taught a course on the assassination for 40 years.

Lee Harvey Oswald was born in New Orleans on Oct. 18, 1939. His father died two months before his birth. Oswald's family first lived in a home on Alvar Street in the Upper Ninth Ward, but moved frequently throughout the city, the Northshore, Dallas and New York during his childhood.

Kurtz refutes those who believe Oswald's unstable childhood was a reason for his personality.

"Lee's half brother and brother grew up in exactly the same circumstances," said Kurtz. "You know, people say he had a troubled childhood, but so did they, they grew up to be perfectly normal people."

At 17, Oswald joined the Marines, only to leave a few years later to defect to the Soviet Union where he met his soon-to-be wife Marina. In the early '60s, he moved back to the United States and eventually back to New Orleans. He lived in a home in the 4900 block of Magazine Street.

During the stint in New Orleans, he was shown on WDSU-TV passing out pro-Castro fliers outside the International Trade Mart building in downtown New Orleans. He was also interview on WDSU-TV.

Watch archive video

Reporter: "Are you a Marxist?"

Oswald: "Well, I have studied Marxist philosophy, yes sir I have."

Reporter: "But are you a Marxist? I think you did admit in an earlier radio interview that you are a Marxist."

Oswald: "Oh, I would definitely say that I am a Marxist, that is correct."

Kurtz says that although evidence like that shows Oswald appearing pro-Castro and pro-Communism, it's more complicated.

"Beneath the surface, Oswald associated with right wing anti-Communists," said Kurtz.

Nine weeks after Oswald left New Orleans, JFK was assassinated.

Photos: Inside an assassin's wallet

Kurtz recently released the third edition of his book "Crime of the Century" detailing his account of the events surrounding the assassination. For more information on his book, click here.

Kurtz also wrote an article on Oswald's New Orleans connections here.

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