Articles

This Date in History: The Assasination of Robert Kennedy

In assasination, Crime, History, inspirations, tragedy, U.S History on June 5, 2009 by Editor Z

It was on this night tonight that Democratic Presidential candidate and U.S Senator Robert F Kennedy (D-NY) was assassinated following the intensely competitive California primaries.

Since coming to the Senate in 1965, he had become a champion for liberal causes such as labor rights for Cesar Chavez and Mexican Farm workers, environmental protections, urban development, combating poverty, righting racism and the vestiges segregation, as well as ending the war in Vietnam. In March of 1968 he announced his candidacy for the Democratic party Presidential nomination. He was in a tight race against fellow anti-war candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN), President Johnson (who later announced he would not run for re-election), and later then Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Kennedy became a candidate who radiated promise and idealism and in doing attracted many young people, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native -Americans, the impoverished, and other downtrodden elements of America whose cause was so seldom championed. He spoke out against the War in Vietnam, ceding that as U.S Attorney General and advisor to his brother then President John F Kennedy he had supported such intervention and helped fashion that policy, but that he could see now the destruction, discord, and blood shed that such involvement was costing America. He sought to mend the fabric of America that was torn asunder along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, age, and political views; allowing America to reunite and exit the harsh confrontation fathers and sons, mothers and daughters had found themselves in and begin a dialogue about the destiny of America.

When Dr Martin Luther King Jr was coldly gunned down on April 4, 1968 many cities became engulfed in violence, bedlam and flames. But when Kennedy broke the news to supporters at a rally in Indianapolis Indiana, Kennedy was the leader the father that all Americans at that moment needed as he made a speech and a plea for understanding and for the continued fires of hate to not be further stoked. As a result there were to be no riots in that city on that night of sorrow.

He had won a series of primaries and lost some others. Following a stunning loss in Oregon, Kennedy found himself locked in a tight race going into what was perhaps the biggest primary of all that of California.

On the night of June 5,1968 results were trickling in and portended good fortunes for Kennedy and his legions of supporters.

So Kennedy along with his beaming wife Ethel, who was then pregnant with the couple’s eleventh child stood on stage alongside supporters and cheering throngs bathed in the glow of what looked to be a primary victory in the short term and a way out of the war and domestic turmoil America now seemed so entrenched in. Kennedy gave his last speech in which he spoke of the hope of the horizon for an America where both order and brotherhood could prevail.

Robert Kennedy was both tough and empathetic. Idealistic and pragmatic. In short in 1968, he was everything the country needed in a leader. His death was a blow to liberalism, a disaster for the Democratic party, and most of all devastating to the nation.


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