Robert F. Kennedy Speech On The
Assassination Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
April 4, 1968, Indianapolis, Indiana
Audio Of Speech
have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who
love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was
shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justic for his
fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States,
it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction
we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the
evidence their evidently is that there were white people who were responsible
-- you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for
revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization
-- black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with
hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and
to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed
that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion
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.
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 rathe difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which
cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair,
against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
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 toward those who still suffer
within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family
of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer
for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding
and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've
had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the
future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness;
it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black
people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality
of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our
Let us dedicate to ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years
ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country
and for our people.