Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Synopsis

On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. As Kennedy prepared to fly from an appearance in Muncie to Indianapolis, he learned that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot outside his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Before his plane landed in Indianapolis, Kennedy heard the news that King had died. Despite warnings from Indianapolis police that they could not guarantee his safety, and brushing off concerns from his own staff, Kennedy decided to proceed with plans to address an outdoor rally to be held in the heart of the city's African American community. On that cold and windy evening, Kennedy broke the news of King's death in an impassioned, extemporaneous speech on the need for compassion in the face of violence. It has proven to be one of the great speeches in American political history.

Marking the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's Indianapolis speech, this book explains what brought the politician to Indiana that day, and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary in which Kennedy, who was an underdog, had a decisive victory.

Excerpt

The Indianapolis parks and recreation department is responsible for administering approximately two hundred properties stretching over more than eleven thousand acres in the central Indiana city. One of these properties, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 1702 North Broadway Street on the city’s near north side, has within its fourteen acres the usual recreational components for an urban park—a basketball court, playground, softball field, picnic shelters, and an outdoor pool. As Center Township residents while away the hours at play, their eyes are no doubt sometimes drawn to one of the park’s most intriguing features, a sculpture titled a Landmark for Peace created by Indiana artist Greg Perry and placed in the park in 1995.

The memorial, which is located at the park’s south end and includes in its construction guns melted down in a gun-amnesty program, features two curved panels facing one another. Near the top of each panel is a figure of a man with an arm and hand outstretched toward, but failing to touch, the . . .

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