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Doris Kearns Goodwin returns to open Festival of the Arts BOCA

Best-selling author and TV commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin opened the 13th Festival of the Arts BOCA with guarded optimism.  Taking questions from a 2,000 plus audience, after her talk Thursday night, Goodwin called for better teacher pay. She endorsed more national service programs.  She applauded younger and more women in Congress, but with a caveat.

“Political careers should start at local levels,” she said. “That’s where you learn to collaborate and grow.”

Goodwin spoke on the lives of four presidents at the festival in the tented Mizner Park Amphitheater. Each one had serious personal loses and depressions, but grew into their roles, she said, quoting from “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” her latest book.

Relying on notes so “I don’t go off on a tangent,” Kearns talked about Abraham Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. Each man was president during a war, she said.

Goodwin, 76, said she was glad to be back in Boca. She spoke at former Festivals of the Arts and spent several winters here with her late husband. Richard Goodwin was a speechwriter for John F. Kennedy and LBJ. He started a book she plans to finish, she said. Goodwin died in May 2018 at 86.

“I first came here 11 years ago and fell in love with Boca,” she told the audience.  The couple took an apartment in Mizner Park and fell into a routine there while she worked on her latest book.  “It feels indeed like coming home,” she added.

Director Joanna Marie Kaye officially opened the festival with Boca Mayor Scott Singer. Former mayors Susan Whelchel and Steven Abrams were on stage.  She presented awards to festival founders, board chairman Charles Siemon and treasurer Wendy Larsen for raising the city’s cultural profile.

Festival of the Arts Boca continues with concerts and author talks through March 10. Tickets are available at festival Boca.

By Marci Shatzman

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