Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A 50-Year Memory: The Speech that Saved Indianapolis

Fifty years ago tonight Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy gave one of the most heartfelt and perhaps greatest speeches in American history. It is not as well known as others, but Kennedy was in the heart of the African-American ghetto of Indianapolis. It was only hours after Dr. King's assassination. He insisted on going and making the announcement of King's death to the crowd since most of them had been waiting to see him and didn't have the instant news access we have today.

The IndyStar published an article three years ago detailing the evening. (Link.) The called it "the day Robert F. Kennedy likely saved Indianapolis." Kennedy was urged to cancel the speech. The Mayor and officials told him they couldn't promise his safety. He went anyway and, with a few notes jotted down, gave an off-the-cuff speech that was personal, emotional, and prophetic. It was the first time since 1963 that he spoke of his brother's death. People knew he was being real.

Indianapolis did not riot.

Ponder these words.

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

"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 towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black."

[We must] "dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world."

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