Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008

On this day in 1968, Lyndon Johnson announced that he was dropping out of the presidential race. Although there could be some debate, I am convinced that he never would have done so had RFK not entered the race.

Well, it looks like Spring is finally here. The snow is finally disappearing. I can't believe it is April already tomorrow. Like the song says "it's been a long, cold, lonely winter."

Here are a couple of news stories I found today:


Remembering the RFK Campaign by Roger Mudd

Ethel Kennedy to attend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial ceremony April 4th on behalf of Barack Obama

Thursday, March 27, 2008

News articles, March 27, 2008

Harry Benson is a Scottish photographer who was at the Ambassador hotel on June 5, 1998.

Harry Benson, a life in pictures


A new book about RFK's campaign for President in Indiana in 1968. will be released in April. It will be calledRobert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary by Ray E. Boomhower.

RFK's Indiana blitz

Monday, March 24, 2008

News articles for March 24, 2008

From February, after several of RFK's children endorsed Hillary Clinton. Discusses Bobby's ties to Caesar Chavez.

Searching for Bobby

Information on Bobby and his ties to Caesar Chavez.

Bobby and Caesar Chavez

While Robert F. Kennedy's oldest child was appearing at Dyngus Day festivities in South Bend, Indiana with Hillary Clinton, it sparked one woman's memories of RFK's appearance there in 1968.

Dyngusing with RFK

Friday, March 21, 2008

Memories of March 21, 1968

This article was originally published on the 35th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's visit to Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

In this speech he talked about the current dissent amongst young people and the reasons behind it.

A wound left unhealed

Later that day he also talked at the University of Alabama, where he talked about the divisions amongst the North and the South and pushed for reconciliation. You can find photographs from his visit at the University of Alabama website. You can also read the speech at the University of Alabama website. Click on the parts under Text of Robert F. Kennedy's speech to see the document.

Like the other post about his visit to Kansas, I found out about these speeches through the book The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now, edited by Norman MacAfee.

News links for March 21, 2008

I hope those who celebrate the holiday have a wonderful Easter.

I'm not a religious person, but I do respect the solemnity of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Sunday. I am looking forward to a tasty Easter dinner (I'm cooking lamb) and a chocolate bunny.

Here are a couple of links that I found this morning. The first one is my favourite, I love hearing first-person stories from those who saw RFK speak, shook hands with him or met him.

Campaign prompts memories of RFK's visit

Reaction to column on RFK

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rafer Johnson discusses RFK

I found this article today from the Boston-Bay State Banner.  Rafer Johnson was a decathlete who won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic games. He put his job at risk to campaign for RFK in California in 1968 and was with him at the end:

On June 5, 1968, the night of the California primary, Rafer Johnson walked a few paces behind Kennedy as he exited the Ambassador Hotel Ballroom and cut through the kitchen. After shots rang out, he and professional football player Roosevelt Grier wrestled Sirhan B. Sirhan to the floor.

It's sad to say that there were rumours that Rosie Grier and Rafer Johnson were arguing over who wrestled the gun from Sirhan. I have no idea if this is true or not. If anyone has more details about this, please share them with us.

But it really isn't important when it comes down to it and I'm sure they came to that conclusion themselves. Like Rafer himself said at the end of the article:

“We’re here today to talk about Robert Kennedy.”

Rafer Johnson looks back on the 1968 campaign

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

News articles - March 18th

Here are various articles that I discovered today:

Resurrecting the Idealism of Robert F. Kennedy

Measuring what matters

Hillary's piece of the RFK legacy

Bobby on parade


I imagine as we get closer to June 6th there will be more and more articles on Bobby.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Campaigning in Kansas

RFK's first campaign stops were in Kansas. He arrived there on March 17, 1968 and was greeted at the airport like a "rock star". According to writer Jan Landon: "Teenage girls screamed, students chanted his name, and people struggled to get a glimpse or a touch."

On the morning of March 18, he spoke to students at Kansas State University about the Vietnam War. You can find the full text on the PBS American Experience web site.

In this speech he took responsibility for his involvement in the decision making about the war during the Kennedy administration. He then laid out how the war could be ended

I find this quote from the speech very pertinent to the current state of the United States:

Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies -- and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once told us was the last, best, hope of man.

Later that day, he gave a speech at the University of Kansas in which he discussed poverty and the GNP.

As I have said before, the fact that Robert F. Kennedy didn't have the chance to be President is one of history's greatest tragedies. I truly believe the world would have been different had he lived.

You can read the full text of the speech made at Kansas State University, and other speeches made by RFK during his presidential campaign, in the book The Gospel According to RFK: Why it Matters Now, edited by Norman MacAfee.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Announcement of Candidacy for President

RFK got a lot of flack over when he announced his bid for the Presidency. According to many books, he had waffled back and forth about running for President for months and had decided before Eugene McCarthy won the New Hampshire primary. Many saw it has him "horning in" on Eugene McCarthy's success in the primaries.

I believe he was definitely a better choice to be the Democratic nominee, and many people did then. I don't think it was a coincidence that LBJ withdrew from the race 15 days after RFK made his announcement. Of course, Eugene McCarthy didn't see it like that and was bitter about it for the rest of his life.

After his death, most of RFK's delegates decided to support George McGovern rather than McCarthy. McCarthy only ended up with 23% of the delegates. As we all know, the eventual victor for the Democratic party was Hubert H. Humphrey, who lost to Richard Nixon in the election.

Washington, D.C. March 16, 1968

I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all that I can.

I run to seek new policies - policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old, in this country and around the rest of the world.

I run for the presidency because I want the Democratic Party and the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation of men instead of the growing risk of world war.

I run because it is now unmistakably clear that we can change these disastrous, divisive policies only by changing the men who are now making them. For the reality of recent events in Vietnam has been glossed over with illusions.

The Report of the Riot Commission has been largely ignored.

The crisis in gold, the crisis in our cities, the crisis in our farms and in our ghettos have all been met with too little and too late.

No one knows what I know about the extraordinary demands of the presidency can be certain that any mortal can adequately fill that position.

But my service in the National Security Council during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin crisis of 1961 and 1962, and later the negotiations on Laos and on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty have taught me something about both the uses and limitations of military power, about the opportunities and the dangers which await our nation in many corners of the globe in which I have traveled.

As a member of the cabinet and member of the Senate I have seen the inexcusable and ugly deprivation which causes children to starve in Mississippi, black citizens to riot in Watts; young Indians to commit suicide on their reservations because they've lacked all hope and they feel they have no future, and proud and able-bodied families to wait our their lives in empty idleness in eastern Kentucky.

I have traveled and I have listened to the young people of our nation and felt their anger about the war that they are sent to fight and about the world they are about to inherit.

In private talks and in public, I have tried in vain to alter our course in Vietnam before it further saps our spirit and our manpower, further raises the risks of wider war, and further destroys the country and the people it was meant to save.

I cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation's future and our children's future.

The remarkable New Hampshire campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy has proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and within our country. Until that was publicly clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities rather than issues.

But now that the fight is on and over policies which I have long been challenging, I must enter the race. The fight is just beginning and I believe that I can win ...

Finally, my decision reflects no personal animosity or disrespect toward President Johnson. He served President Kennedy with the utmost loyalty and was extremely kind to me and members of my family in the difficult months which followed the events of November of 1963.

I have often commended his efforts in health, in education, and in many other areas, and I have the deepest sympathy for the burden that he carries today.

But the issue is not personal. It is our profound differences over where we are heading and what we want to accomplish.

I do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties of challenging an incumbent President. But these are not ordinary times and this is not an ordinary election.

At stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country. It is our right to moral leadership of this planet.

You can listen to this speech and others at RFK speeches in Real Audio.


The RFK Memorial


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Campaign ads from 1968

I found these ads from the 1968 election on YouTube. I particularly like the ones where he is talking to the kids.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Poems about Robert F. Kennedy

Robert Lowell wrote a couple of poems about Robert F. Kennedy.

For Robert Kennedy 1925-68

Here in my workroom, in its listlessness

of Vacancy, like the old townhouse one shut for summer,

airtight and sheeted from the sun and smog,

far from the hornet yatter of his gang--

is loneliness, a thin smoke threat of vital

air. But what will anyone teach you now?

Doom was woven in your nerves, your shirt,

woven in the great clan; they too were loyal,

and you too were loyal to them, to death.

For them like a prince, you daily left your tower

to walk through dirt in your best cloth. Untouched,

alone in my Plutarchan bubble, I miss

you, you out of Plutarch, made by hand--

forever approaching our maturity.


For Robert Kennedy 2

How they hated to leave the unpremeditated

gesture of their life--the Irish in black, three rows

ranked for the future photograph, the Holy Name,

fiercely believed in then, then later held to

perhaps more fiercely in their unbelief...

We were refreshed when you wisecracked through the guests,

usually somewhat woodenly, hoarsely dry...

Who would believe the nesting, sexing tree swallow

would dive for eye and brain--this handbreadth insect,

navy butterfly, the harbinger of rain,

changed to a danger in the twilight? Will we

swat out the birds as ruthlessly as flies?...

God haunts us. Who has seen him, who will judge this killer,

his guiltless liver, kidneys, fingertips and phallus?