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Sat Apr 4, 2015, 08:49 AM

April 4, 1968: How RFK saved Indianapolis

IndyStar ‏@indystar: 47 years ago today, Robert F. Kennedy likely saved Indianapolis. http://indy.st/1BYiWi5

Kennedy, who was running for president, was scheduled to make a campaign speech here in the days before the Indiana Democratic primary. He was popular among the black community, and in an effort to get more blacks registered to vote, he wanted to speak in the heart of Indianapolis' inner-city.

Shortly before his speech, as Kennedy's plane landed in Indianapolis, the senator from New York learned that Martin Luther King Jr. had died from an assassin's bullet.

Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar, fearing a race riot, told Kennedy's staff that his police could not guarantee Kennedy's safety at 17th and Broadway. Racial violence indeed would later sweep the country, with riots in more than 100 cities, 39 people killed and more than 2,000 injured.

Lugar urged Kennedy to cancel his speech. But Kennedy insisted that he and his people go on and go alone, without police...

Mary Evans, a 16-year-old junior at North Central High School, was in the crowd. She was headstrong and political, and she insisted on seeing Kennedy. She and a friend attended the rally with the friend's nervous father.

Evans was white and from a tony Northside family, but she was progressive and inquisitive and was not uncomfortable in the mostly black crowd. At first.

But as she waited for Kennedy, who was more than an hour late, word suddenly spread that King had been shot. The word was that he had survived after a gunman had tried to kill him. The gunman was presumed to be white.

"The temperature changed," Evans recalls. "I felt people started looking at me. Someone would take a step away, like I was a symbol of racism.

"I felt really white. I was really scared."

She thought about bolting but was in unfamiliar territory and had no idea which way to run...

With practically no time to prepare — he had come straight from the airport — and speaking off the cuff, Kennedy told the news with such compassion and empathy that when he finished many in the crowd departed sad though not hateful and in at least one notable case with renewed resolve to make the world better.

"For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling," Kennedy said. "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 go beyond these rather difficult times."

William Crawford, a member of the Black Radical Action Project, had stood about 20 feet from Kennedy. "Look at all those other cities," Crawford says today. "I believe it would have gone that way (in Indianapolis) had not Bobby Kennedy given those remarks."

"The sincerity of Bobby Kennedy's words just resonated," Crawford says, "especially when he talked about his brother."

Kennedy had not spoken publicly about President John F. Kennedy's assassination since Nov. 22, 1963, writes Ray E. Boomhower in his 2008 book "Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary."

Now he did, to maximum effect. The moment he started speaking the air cleared, the hostility evaporated.

Evans sensed it deep down.

[font color=blue]"It was like the feeling some people get in church," she says. "I was scared, and as soon as Kennedy spoke, I wasn't scared. I no longer felt white and isolated. I felt united in sadness with everyone else."[/font] ...

Read more: http://indy.st/1BYiWi5

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Reply April 4, 1968: How RFK saved Indianapolis (Original post)
MinM Apr 2015 OP
ColesCountyDem Apr 2015 #1
MinM Apr 2015 #2

Response to MinM (Original post)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 10:59 AM

1. Like most of my generation, I will never forget that night.

We desperately need statesmen and stateswomen of Sen. Kennedy's caliber again!

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Response to ColesCountyDem (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 07:53 PM

2. Amen

Michael Beschloss ‏@BeschlossDC: Coretta Scott King with Robert & Ethel Kennedy after husband’s assassination, which occurred tonight 1968: #Globe

Of course 2 months later Bobby was killed.

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