This Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Robert Kennedy was in Indiana on that horrible night.
He had spent the previous weeks in Indiana campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President. I’ll blog more about it later, but Kennedy’s 1968 campaign is one of the most inspiring events in the history of Indiana.
Two months later, Kennedy was murdered by an assassin’s bullet.
April 4th, 1968 in Indiana
On the day of April 4th, Kennedy was in Muncie, IN where he gave a thirty minute speech to a frenzied crowd.
After the speech, the presidential candidate was scheduled to take a quick flight to Indianapolis to a scheduled rally at a park located in a mostly African American neighborhood.
After learning about the events in Memphis, Kennedy was warned by police that his safety could not be guaranteed. They, along with Kennedy’s staff, urged him to cancel the Indianapolis rally.
A person I know was an Indianapolis building commissioner during this era. He had to plead with the police not to put snipers on the roof top of churches that night.
Kennedy went to Indianapolis.
There were riots in most major American cities that night and in much smaller ones like Cairo, Illinois. It would have been understandable if Kennedy had canceled. His own brother was murdered five years earlier and now Martin Luther King. Robert Kennedy had to know that his own life was at risk. But he pressed on.
Maybe it was only for a fleeting moment, but Kennedy’s speech that night and campaign in Indiana, was politics at a different level. It gave people a taste of what life could be like if we overcome fear, overcome hatred, and work together to build a more beautiful, humane world.