RFK Young Leaders
Inspired by the vision of Robert F. Kennedy, the RFK Young Leaders (RFKYL) are dedicated to empowering young human rights defenders, and motivating a diverse community of young people to take action for social justice and human rights. In the words of one of our founding members, "Our work is to inspire a generation of young people who have a feeling something is wrong in the world but lack a channel to fix it."
The RFKYL network includes hundreds of young professionals, from a wide range of fields—business, art, education, social media, information technology, film, finance, academia, law, social services—who all share a commitment to effecting change in creative and meaningful ways.
The RFKYL support the work of the RFK Center in a variety of ways: funding a Young Leaders Fellow, who works to introduce Speak Truth To Power to Schools throughout New York City; hosting events and speakers to educate their peers about today's most pressing issues; and providing opportunities for young people to take action for social justice and human rights.
Currently based in New York, the program plans to spread to other cities, with the groundwork being laid for RFKYL groups in Florence, Italy and Washington, D.C. As the Young Leaders program expands, it offers a growing testament to the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy, his commitment to social justice, and his belief in the power of youth.
Inspiring Young Leaders: the Life of Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Kennedy championed the disenfranchised from Watts to the Mississippi Delta. He battled corrupt union bosses and protected Alabama Freedom Riders. He marched with Cesar Chavez and opposed the Vietnam War. He soothed those who suffered, and he suffered himself. He fought racism, lauded courage, and called for peace. Serving as the U.S. attorney general, as a senator, and as a presidential candidate during the 1960s, he fought tirelessly to promote social justice and human rights, both in the United States and abroad.
As a Senator for New York, he initiated projects such as assistance to underprivileged children and students with disabilities in the state. He established the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to improve living conditions and employment opportunities in depressed areas of Brooklyn. Today, the program remains a model for communities across the nation.
In March 1968, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, a campaign characterized by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. as "uproarious, filled with enthusiasm and fun. .. and moving in its sweep and passion." Robert Kennedy brought hope and challenge to an American people troubled by discontent and violence at home and by war in Vietnam. Although his life was cut short during the campaign, Robert Kennedy's vision and ideals live on today through the work of his family, friends, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the RFK Young Leaders.
Our answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth…This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease. It is a revolutionary world that we all live in; and thus, it is the young people who must take the lead. – Robert F. Kennedy, 1966