Robert F. Kennedy eulogizes Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaker: Robert F Kennedy
Delivered On: 4/4/1968
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Subject: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Assassination. Eulogies–United States.
Audio/Video Available:

Description: Extemporaneous remarks by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) at a political rally in
Indianapolis, IN. Kennedy — who was running for the Democratic nomination for president,
announced the assassination of
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
in Memphis, TN.
Ladies and Gentlemen – I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this
evening. Because I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news
for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and
that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human
beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult
time for he United States, it’s 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 evidently is that there
were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and
with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people
amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend,
and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land,
with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust
of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that
I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family
killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United
States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “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 and lawlessness,
but is 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 whether
they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther
King, yeah that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country,
which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I
spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult
times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the
end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

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 that 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.

Thank you very much.

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