Indianapolis—A member of the Kennedy family came to Indianapolis Thursday night to mark a moment in history made in the Circle City. A new exhibit at the Indiana History Center commemorates the speech made by Robert F. Kennedy on the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
The speech began that night as a campaign stop in Indiana but when Kennedy arrived in town on April 4th, 1968, his campaigning turned to delivering news of Kings death.
“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news 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 was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee,” Kennedy said.
Ted Boehm was a campaign staffer at the time. He said the staff struggled with the decision of what to do with the information, but Kennedy made a choice to speak from his heart.
“We learned on the campaign staff about the assassination of Dr. King before Kennedy's plan landed.”
Abie Robinson was in the crowd for the speech.
“We didn't know. From that point on the evening completely changed,” Robinson said.
Joseph P. Kennedy III is Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson.
“My grandfather's response was to challenge America to live up to Dr. King's dream and they did,” he said.
Joseph came to the Indiana History Center Thursday night to see the exhibit that takes people back in history. It’s an exhibit that honors his grandfather.
“His main message that night was looking at what unites us rather than focusing on the differences that divide us. Given the times that we face now that it's still an extremely applicable lesson,” he said.
Boehm said the night brings back many memories.
“I think he looks a lot like RFK,” Boehm said.
Robinson said the new exhibit is a reminder of where the nations was in 1968 and where it has come.
“What he did has reminded us what Dr. King stood for and to do and feel any other way would be contradictory of King's message. That's what I walked away with. That's what I still believe in.”
Boehm said it’s a message that still applies today.
“It's a pretty simple message but a pretty powerful one.”
Indianapolis was one of the few cities in the country that did not riot the night of King’s death. Many credit Kennedy’s speech for encouraging peace.
Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated June 5th, 1968, just two months after Dr. King.