INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Robert F. Kennedy’s famous speech in Indianapolis occurred on this day 50 years ago. He delivered the news to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to everyone in attendance.
We spoke with his daughter, Kerry Kennedy, on the 50th anniversary.
“I think in part because of that speech that he gave that night when Martin Luther King died, people understood that he spoke from the heart. And they believed him. They didn’t always agree with him on the issues, but they believed that he cared deeply; that he was a man of passion; that he loved our country; and that he sought peace and justice,” Kennedy said.
Richard Lugar, Indy's mayor at the time, told Kennedy it was too risky to come speak. But he wanted to do it. That night, Indy remained calm despite the fact that there were riots in 125 other cities across the U.S.
“People came equipped with bicycle chains and Molotov cocktails, and they were ready to riot,” Kennedy said. “But I think that my father spoke with so much empathy he didn’t dismiss their anger; he didn’t dismiss their instinct for revenge. He talked about the loss of his own brother and his own feelings of anger and rage.”