This account of a dramatic moment, and a classic speech, is “a must-read for anyone interested in presidential politics” (Indiana Magazine of History). On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the state’s Democratic presidential primary. As Kennedy prepared to fly from an appearance in Muncie to Indianapolis, he learned that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had been shot outside his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Before his plane landed in Indianapolis, Kennedy heard the news that King had died. Despite warnings from Indianapolis police that they could not guarantee his safety, and concerns from his own staff, Kennedy decided to proceed with plans to address an outdoor rally to be held in the heart of the city’s African American community. On that cold and windy evening, Kennedy broke the news of King’s death in an impassioned, extemporaneous speech on the need for compassion in the face of violence. It has proven to be one of the great speeches in American political history.
This book explains what brought the politician to Indiana that day, and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary—in which Kennedy, who had been an underdog, would go on to a decisive victory.