Robert Kennedy’s speech the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination

On this night, 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

That evening, while campaigning for president, Robert F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech in Indianapolis. He was warned by law enforcement to cancel the event due to fear of riots.

Kennedy wrote a few notes down. When he got up to speak, he informed the crowd of what happened. You can hear the shock in the crowd when he informed them of King’s death.

It’s an amazingly eloquent and optimistic speech. Kennedy shows tremendous leadership as he offers words of comfort.

Tragically, 63 days later, Robert F. Kennedy would meet the same fate by an assassin’s bullet.

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 and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will-we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

-Robert F. Kennedy

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.