April 4, 1968, America lost Dr. Martin Luther King to a sniper’s bullet. That evening, ignoring police warnings of violence, Robert Kennedy spoke to the black community of Indianapolis in the most heartfelt speech I have heard He spoke in words of anguish, yet he offered hope for America, thus echoing Dr. King’s call to “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” While rage at Dr. King’s murder exploded into riots in scores of American cities, Indianapolis was spared violence. Perhaps because people there believed a leader actually cared? Robert Kennedy’s voice, though silenced 2 months later by an assassin, speaks to us today.
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, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
—Robert Kennedy, April 4, 1968