Forty four years ago, Martin Luther King was gunned down in Memphis. A sad tragic event that will be forever tied to April 4th. In the immediate wake of this horror there was widespread rioting in major US cites; all except one. One city did not riot: Indianapolis.
You see Indianapolis was a campaign stop for the liberal fire brand and upstart presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. Kennedy had been campaigning in the Hoosier state and was aware that King had been shot and black communities were already on edge. When he arrived in Indianapolis the campaign was told that King had died from the gunshot wound. Further, law enforcement officials could not guarantee Kennedy’s safety and his campaign staff thought it would be best to cancel the campaign stop.
Instead, the New York Senator who was known for saying what was on his mind and never backing down, took the stage. He went on to tell the crowd that their hero, their leader, their heart and soul had died. He then went on to deliver one of this most important speeches of our time:
“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 or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
Sadly, Robert Kennedy would be taken from us two months later. But for that one night in April, no man did more to empathize and promote justice and love. Reverend King would have been pleased.
Love and wisdom and compassion toward one another….