Indianapolis, Indiana (JFK+50) Forty-seven years ago tonight, April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York spoke here in Indianapolis in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The address was given at what had been planned to be a presidential campaign rally at 17th and Broadway. Many of those in the crowd were unaware of Dr. King's death.
Senator Kennedy began by saying...
"I have some very sad news for all of you...Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee. MLK dedicated his life to love...and justice. He died in the cause of that effort."
The Senator went on to say that black Americans could be filled with hate against white people since the reports from Memphis were that those responsible were white. RFK continued...
"We can move in that direction as a country....filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort...to...replace violence...with...compassion and love."
RFK asked his audience to say prayers for the King family, for our country, and for understanding and compassion. He quoted his favorite poem by Aeschylus...
'Even in our sleep
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
Until, in our despair
against our will comes wisdom
Through the awful grace of God.'
Senator Kennedy's speech had a clear effect on the people of Indianapolis. While there was rioting and violence in more than a hundred cities in the United States, Indianapolis remained calm.
"Robert F. Kennedy: Remarks on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.," American Rhetoric, Top 100 Speeches, www.americanrhetoric.com/
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial
Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by DE (own work)