In the words of others
Robert F. Kennedy was a courageous man who inspired millions. His inspiration can be seen in the words of the authors that have chronicled his life. The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial approached a number of Robert F. Kennedy authors and historians in order produce a brief glimpse into the great man's life.
Author of "RFK: Collected Speeches", "Robert Kennedy in His Own Words: The Unpublished Recollections of the Kennedy Years", "An Honorable Profession: A Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy", and "We band of brothers".
Robert F. Kennedy brought courage to everything he did as he experienced public life he was bound to act, whether it was to blunt the rising power of organized crime, create a school system for African-American children barred from attending white schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia or bring black militants and white business executives to work to alleviate the massive problems in the Bedford-Struyvesant ghetto in Brooklyn.
He was a wholly unique American. Never before had a person so shared the burdens of the Presidency without actually holding the office. Then, after 1964, when the war in Viet Nam became a major national issue, when African-American and student militancy turned to violence and when fear and discontent pervaded the land, RFK, more than any other public figure, was able to communicate across the barricades. And he meant what he said. Opponents and supporters knew that. Had he lived and won the Presidency he would have led with skill and courage; the Viet Nam War would have ended in 1969 and America would have been spared Watergate. If he had lost he would not have despaired or retreated, but he would have fought on as best he could
Author of "85 Days: The Last Campaign of Robert Kennedy" and "The Year the Dream Died: Revisiting 1968 in America."
Of all my memories of Bob Kennedy, the one that stands out most is the recollection of his introduction of the film about his brother, President Kennedy, at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Before he could speak, he was drowned in a seemingly endless tribute of applause, and tears. He stood on the platform, head bowed, allowing himself from time to time only a wan smile as he tried to break in but could not stem the outpouring of affection. When it finally stilled, he borrowed from Shakespeare to describe his beloved brother: "When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun." Then, as the film flashed on a huge overhead screen, Bob retreated to behind the stage and sat alone on the steps, out of sight from all but the press section, watching the image and listening to the voice of his departed brother.
Four years later in Chicago, the scene was eerily repeated at the next Democratic convention, with a similar film of himself strolling alone on a beach in Oregon and this time taped remarks from surviving brother Ted, still in mourning, summing up: "If my brother's life, and death, had one meaning above all others, it was this: that we should not hate but love one another, that our strength should not be used to create the conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but the conditions that lead to peace." The parallel scenes captured for me the essence of Robert Kennedy's deep loyalty to family, and compassion toward the much larger human family, combined with action in behalf of both.
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“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy