Remembering Robert F. Kennedy's MLK speech as George Floyd protests hope to bring change

Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 9:46 PM CDT
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52 years ago on June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic primary. Kennedy died early on June 6th, two Civil Rights leaders, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. gunned down just two months apart in 1968. A year considered to be one of the most turbulent and traumatic in the 20th century.

King was assassinated on April 4th of 1968. That night, Bobby Kennedy stepped to the mic in Indianapolis and broke the news to a stunned audience. That moment a time of justified racial outrage and protests in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis continue across America and in the Chippewa Valley.

We remember the compelling speech Kennedy gave that night in 1968 as well as his leadership and hope that our nation can use the events of the past two weeks as a rallying point for change.

"On this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another."

"It was very emotional because my dad went through stuff like this as well, and now for me 55 years later to be going through the same thing about some of the same issues is mind blowing."

"We can change how broken the system is right now. I don't think racism is never not going to be an issue but I think that as white people we kind of have a responsibility to call it out when we see it."

"Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love."

"Don't just by the color of their skin, and respect their skin."

"My heart is just filled with joy to see the turnout, to see the people who understand and see that this is going on and they are tired of it as well."

"It honestly shows that we are not alone and they care too just as much as black people and any other race."

"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black."

"We are all equal, everybody should have to opportunity to live safe and live healthy. Be responsible, and the only way that we are going to do that is for the whole world to come together. This is not a black cause, this is a world cause, this is something that has gone on forever."

"I think that it's important that we hear p-o-c's voices. Let them lead, the pain that they feel is real, their voices are real and we as white people need to respect them and need to respect their voices and believe them when they say they are hurting."

"Some day we are going to be telling our kids and grand kids about this and that I'm glad that we are part of it, and people are using their voices and making a change."

"But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land. Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people."

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