April 4, 2018

Historic Kennedy-King Speech Remembered In Nationally Honored Park

Hundreds gathered to commemorate the historic speech.  - Drew Daudelin/WFYI

Hundreds gathered to commemorate the historic speech.

Drew Daudelin/WFYI

Two events Wednesday commemorated the 50th anniversary of a speech by Senator Robert F. Kennedy, in which he announced the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to a crowd in Indianapolis.

On April 4, 1968 then-Senator Kennedy delivered a hand-written speech on the back of a truck, in the Indianapolis park now named after King. He told the crowd King had been shot and killed, and made a call for peace and unity.

Many say the speech helped prevent riots in the city.

Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, who spoke at the March on Washington and worked closely with King, joined national, state and local politicians to commemorate the speech in the spot where it happened.

Lewis says King's message of non-violence had a critical role in moving the country in a positive direction. And he says lessons learned from King are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

“He taught us how to live," Lewis says. "He taught us how to stand up. To be brave, courageous and bold, and to never give up.”

Kennedy’s daughter Kerry Kennedy also spoke at the commemoration. She says lessons she learned from her father mirrored the values he wanted the country to embrace.

“We must build a system of justice that enjoys the confidence of all sides, peace is not just something to pray for, but something each of us has the responsibility to create," Kennedy says.

Yesterday President Donald Trump signed a bill that gives the park and its Landmark for Peace Memorial – which depicts King and Kennedy reaching towards one another – status as a National Historic Site.

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