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tv   Robert F. Kennedy 1968 Presidential Announcement Anniversary  CSPAN  April 15, 2018 2:00pm-4:00pm EDT

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moscow? wrecks watch afterwards, tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span twos book tv. >> new york senator robert f. kennedy announced he was running for president on march 16, 1968. members ofal congress and two of his descendants mark the 50th announcementf that at an event looking at rfk's life and legacy. speakers include house minority leader nancy pelosi, florida senator marco rubio, and georgia congressman john lewis. as well as robert kennedy's grandson, congressman joe kennedy, and his daughter cary kennedy, who runs runs the human rights organization that hosted the event. this was held in the russell senate office building's kennedy caucus room, where both he and john announced their presidential candidacies. this is just under two hours.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you here this evening. joe kennedy is right now delayed , voting on the floor of the house of representatives. but i've been instructed by his aunt carrie to begin. i have always thought myself to be a wholly owned subsidiary of carrie. it is this impeccable judgment which i'm going to follow right now. and i want to thank carrie, to thank tim shriver, to thank riley kennedy, to thank kathleen kennedy-townsend all for coming here this evening and to all of you for participating in this historic moment. i've said many times in my career that i was inspired by the kennedy brothers to be
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interested in politics. and so this evening, on the 50th anniversary of robert f. kennedy announcing for the presidency in this room, as did his brother jack, as did his brother ted, it is an incredible moment in time to remember. it was for me and it was for anyone in this room who was alive at that time. they inspired a generation of americans. they helped to lift our gaze to the constellation of possibilities for ourselves, for our country, and for the world, and that inspiration continues to live on even today. and that dawning of a bright, better future lifted up the spirit of an entire nation. it gave us hope. it gave us reassurance, and it gave one boy a dream.
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but it turns out the same thing happened not just for irish boys in massachusetts, but for everyone of every nationality in our country and the planet. it helped to inspire them as well. i am honored to be here to kick off this incredible celebration because he was one of the greatest public servants this nation has ever known as senator, as attorney general, and as presidential candidate. he was a true liberal before liberal became a bad word. and he was one of america's greatest forces for justice, for equality, and for freedom. it's been half a century since his announcement. and in that time, we have missed his idealism. we have missed his strength. we have missed his tenacity. this time that has passed
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illuminates how much of a trail blazer that he was. i have no doubt that he would have looked out at the national mall today with the thousands of young people exercising their right to protest for safer schools and he would have marched with them. he would have spoken to them. [applause] he would have spoken to them about his support for gun control and his belief that, in his own words, that for too long we dealt with these deadly weapons as if they were harmless toys. he would have told them to embrace their fellow students because their movement is stronger when it includes everyone. white, black, brown, yellow, red, male, female, urban, rural, rich, and poor, and old and young. and that's what we saw out on the mall today.
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he would have told them to cut through the current political jungle and to find the surest path towards justice and safety for their communities. it is bobby kennedy's words that echo in this movement of young people across our country, demanding action each time a man or woman stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy. and these ripples create a current that can sweep across the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. bobby kennedy, it was the heart of a person, not his or her station that should be judged. that everyone should have the opportunity to maximize god-given abilities to create a better life from the civil rights movement to the war on poverty to the farm workers movement and beyond.
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robert f kennedy's legacy continues to resonate in importance and urgency in the 21st century. his legacy continues to resonate because it is the central theme that so many people in our country continue to keep in their hearts. when the trump administration calls for closing the department of justice's civil rights division, we remember that bobby kennedy expanded it by 60%. when people take to the streets -- [applause] when people take to the streets in charlottesville and baltimore and ferguson, we remember bobby kennedy's efforts to ensure that admittance of the first african-american student to the university of mississippi was successful. as state lawmakers across the country introduce hundreds of measures making it harder to vote, we remember that bobby kennedy recognized voting was central to the fight for racial
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justice and he worked to create the landmark civil rights act. and perhaps most importantly, we see his legacy in the work and accomplishments of his family. tim shriver, riley kennedy, kerry kennedy, kathleen kennedy - townsend, kerry kennedy and all of the kennedys who embody this incredible -- and gabriella. and jabaya as well, who are both here representing this incredible tradition that continues today. senator bob casey from the state of pennsylvania here as well continuing that tradition. [applause] so on this 50th anniversary of robert kennedy's announcement to lead our country, we must recommit ourselves to the causes and crusades that he championed and continues today. bobby kennedy was the greatest
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president of the united states that should have been. [applause] and because he never forgot who faced the greatest challenges, that's his legacy, and it is one that we are called on everyday to live up to, to guide not just my work but all of our work everyday here in the senate but every person in our country. and i know that every one in this room shares that feeling. i thank you all for being here today to honor his legacy with his family and those who continue to find inspiration in his life. robert kennedy's words and works will continue to stir new generations, to serve, to fight, and to build a better future for everyone in this great nation. and with us tonight are several people who are going to speak to that legacy and what i would
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like to do is begin with kennedy historian and host of msnbc's "hardball," who wrote "bobby kennedy, a raging spirit" who called robert kennedy the perpetual underdog, he needs to head out to do his show and i'd like to right now recognize the great host of "hardball," chris matthews. [applause] >> well, it's great to be part of this in this amazing room with so much history. 50 years ago tomorrow, march 15, 196, senator robert kennedy gave an instruction to his aide frank mankiewicz, "better reserve the senate caucus room for tomorrow." robert kennedy would have preferred to have run for president four years later in 1972, when lyndon johnson would
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have finished his second full term. he didn't want to challenge a democratic president. kennedy was a good politician and he knew this wasn't good politics. yes, lyndon johnson had just got an scare from eugene mccarthy four days earlier in new hampshire, but johnson had not just won, but beat mccarthy in a write-in without his name, lyndon johnson, even being on the ballot so he was still a strong favorite for the nomination. kennedy tried an 11th hour han -- maneuver to change johnson's 's position >> -- and johnson was probably
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right on that. so here was bobby. so here is bobby on saturday morning, the day before st. patrick's day, march 16, in this room walking in here into this room that even now you can feel the history in this room and it had so much personal history for bobby kennedy. here was where the permanent subcommittee on investigations met in the early 1950's, where he worked for first and then against senator joseph mccarthy. here is where the rackets committee, which he really created, met here where he battled jimmy hoffa and other and this is where his beloved brother jack declared for president eight years earlier in 1960. same spot, almost the same exact words beginning his announcement. again, bobby hoped to wait four more years for his campaign. he didn't want to divide the
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democrats, now in three different directions -- johnson, he, and gene mccarthy. but he decided finally only that morning, actually, finally, that he had to try for president. he saw the war tearing the country apart, the young people on college campuses turning bitter, changing to drugs and disillusion and resistance, giving up on the idealism of the early 1960s, giving up on ideas of joining the peace corps. you know, when you write a book as i did about bobby, you go back to everything you've ever come across about him. you don't just go with your sources like peter adeleman i've seen here. there he is, great sources. i actually fell in love with reading them and having talked to them like ed guffman who talked about the band of brothers that worked for bob kennedy. you learn little things from people like -- even scurrilous characters like paul corbin who i got to know. people laugh about because you can only laugh about paul
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corbin. and they all called him bob. little things. they didn't call him bobby, that was a family name. it was bob. man-to-man, our leader, the guy we look up to in the band of brothers is bob. i thought that was so informative to dig that stuff up. but i came across some other things that may not seem important to other people but meant a lot to me, and here is one piece of history i picked up in this capitol. when i got back from the peace corps in 1971, i got patronage job, barnicle had one, harry reid had one, usually capital cob. you might work in the mailroom, but it was a pretty good job. i got it from wayne owens, a young mormon, aa to senator frank moss, the last liberal senator from utah. probably for a while, in fact. i don't expect one any sooner, i think we're getting mitt romney coming soon. hi, susan. so wayne owens was a young true believer in bobby kennedy. he had been the coordinator for
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bobby kennedy in the 1968 presidential campaign in the rocky mountains. he later became the aa for senator ted kennedy when he was majority whip and he was a true believer in the kennedys and he gave me my first job coming back from the peace corps. and the job was not exactly what i wanted, but it was a good job for a while. i would work in the office during the daytime and then i'd be a capital cop starting at 3:00 every day. so i was doing two jobs and i can tell you, i can almost write a book about how much i learned as a cop here. i learned a lot. in fact, i learned a lot about the guys who live in the country who vote conservative and are very patriotic but they may not agree with a lot of people in this room, but they have a point of view and one of the old cops said to me one time "you know why the little man love this is country? it's because there's always god." i learned a lot from those guys. one thing i learned about the capital police and from those guys who worked here, like the superintendent who cleans up the places and fixes the electricity in the middle of the night was there was one democrat, one
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senator who always made a point of saying hello and actually greeting the capitol police when he went by. he made a real effort to say hello to them as equals and important people to him. and that told me so much about him because he was well known for looking out for those in the country who've gotten bad treatment from police. he would have been very sympathetic, as senator markey said, to the black lives matter movement. he would have been part of it. but he also believed in good law enforcement, against segregationists, mobsters, or others who broke the law. that's why the justice department is named the robert f kennedy building, because he believes in good law enforcement. and i learned something else about him, he was neither a snob nor a phony. he fought for the poor and the overlooked but he looked out for the working people in this country. as reporter jack newfield once wrote, he looked at cops, waitresses, construction workers as his people. there's a message for democrats today. just a thought.
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that showed in who to came out to salute his funeral train when it went by along the railroad tracks in new jersey and pennsylvania when he was carried to rest with his brother in arlington. we will always remember the people in baltimore, 20,000 of them, singing "battle hymn of the republic," because when you go to black churches you learn the lyrics and you can sing the whole song. i figured that out. we never learned the whole song. and also, not just the large crowds of the people in the big cities, but but the little families along the way, from all backgrounds, quietly saluting their fellow patriot. thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you, chris, that was great. and next we're going to hear
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from the grandson of robert f. kennedy, who serves phenomenally everyday in the house of representatives, where jack kennedy began in 1947 and didn't he do a phenomenal job in being the responder to donald trump's state of the union address? i give you the great joe kennedy. [cheers and applause] senator -- [cheers and applause] >> senator markey, thank you for the extraordinarily kind words, as always. thank you for your friendship.
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i guess, sorry to do this to you, but to multiple generations of my family. [laughter] and for a friendship, a relationship that goes back in all sincerity longer than i've been alive. we are so grateful for what you -- for your service to our country, for your commitment to massachusetts, and for always being there for us as a friend. always. so thank you. and to susan as well, thank you so, so much. [applause] >> this is a dangerous thing to do so i'm going to do it briefly, but to try to recognize that -- i know my other family members have been recognized but i love you, thanks for coming, thanks for having me. box checked. [laughter] to my fellow members of the house that are here and forgive me, it is a partial list that i
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caught coming in, but peter welch, charlie crist, steve cohen, the dean of the massachusetts delegation richie neal, thank you for coming and to others, blame it on my eyes and not my heart. thank you for coming, thank you for making the time. i'm cognizant, obviously, only of why we're here today but as chris said, the significance of my grandfather's service and his last race for public office. realize, in a you short time in public life that he meant an awful lot of different things to an awful lot of different people. but here and to your right and left you have politicians, you have public servants, you have journalists, you have activists, you have volunteers, and you
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have regular, old, everyday people that were inspired by his legacy. you have folks like the guy i just shook hands with in front of the capitol steps with a kind word about who my grandfather was and what he still means. so from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for coming in today and joining in the celebration of his life and his legacy. for 50 years ago today, a young senator stood in this room and announced a decision to run for the presidency. in the three months that followed, he did what not many others i believe in public life had the courage to do -- to confront the questions that our society far too often pushes to the side. that we glance at but we don't wrestle with.
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that we know are there, but, for whatever reason, far too often we don't quite have the courage to confront. two days after he gave his announcement, he was at the university of kansas and he spoke about the priorities of our nation and what matters to our country. he pointed out that the the metric that we use, our gross national product, illustrates and measures our air pollution and cigarette advertising. our locks on doors and jails for those who break them accounts for napalm and nuclear warheads. and then he listed what it doesn't. "the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of the education, the joy of their play. does not include the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate, or the
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integrity of our public officials. it measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion, nor our devotion to our country. it measures everything in short , except that which makes life worthwhile and it can tell you everything about america except why we are proud to be americans." not a week goes by for me these days where somebody does not mention to me the impact that my grandfather had on his or her life, including one of the republican hosts today, bradley byrne. he, i believe, had the courage to see the dignity of every
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child and the frailty of every adult, the yearning of every person to try to make our nation a little bit better for our own children. and in so doing, was able to weave a thread that connected disparate groups that still call this nation home, and that we all call americans. that he inspired to dream things that we could, in fact, achieve if we set our minds to it and our shoulders to it, too. and it's why so many people approach so many of the elected officials gathered here today , yearning for that same leadership and inspiration. and it's why i'm so honored to be gathered with all of you as we share in that legacy and we fight to make those values hold true still in our country today. thank you for being here, thank
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you for having me, thank you for celebrating. [applause] one -- well, two other quick things. first, john delaney, colleague from maryland, thank you for coming as well. appreciate it, my friend, grateful. [applause] two, it is now a distinct honor and joy for me to be able to introduce a friend, a mentor, massachusetts' senior senator, my law professor. [laughter] and somebody that i just think is not just an incredible individual -- introduced, as many of you know, me to my wife, but we are darn lucky to have fighting for every single american across this country in senator elizabeth warren. senator warren, please. [applause]
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>> thank you, it is a great honor to be here with all of you today. so many elected officials, so many family and friends. chris matthews, who wrote a great book, thank you, glad to be here. but a lot of people think about robert kennedy, they read what he wrote, they listen to his speeches, they see the work he did and they think about what might have been. but i believe the reason we remember robert kennedy is because of the way he touched essential truths. history may not repeat itself but as some like to say it often rhymes. in 1968, there was a lot of anxiety in this country and a lot of experts back then wanted to hide behind statistics.
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they wanted -- a lot of politicians wanted to hide behind statistics about what was going on. but robert kennedy made the point that the economy is experienced not in those statistics but on the ground. it's a singular moment for me to stand here, having just been introduced by someone i respect enormously. someone i watched, literally, from his first moment in law school. that was the moment when i asked him was what is assumsit and he said "huh?" [laughter] i knew he had a bright future." -- future. but today we both picked exactly the same quote to focus on. [laughter] which says something about the core -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] stock market.
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record profits, corporate profits have never been so high, bank profits have never been so high, unemployment is lower than it has been in a very long time in america. and, good, those are all terrific stats, but the reality is for the majority of americans who don't own a single share of stock, a rising stock market does not help them. for the millions of americans who are making corporate profits -- who work for corporations, that are making record profits that don't raise their wages for the people actually doing the work, those corporate profits don't mean as much to them. and to talk about unemployment in an america where working two jobs and three jobs often means you still can't hold it together to be able to make it to the end of the month and have a little money left over and build a
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little economic security. all of those stats just become a way to hold you off from the world that you live on the ground. so i think of this as the echo from 50 years. i read robert kennedy's speech from the university of kansas and i hear him saying to us we cannot run an economy, we cannot run a country that works better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. that is not america. [applause] i think of robert kennedy 50 years later and i hear his message as we must build an america that works for every single one of us. it's an honor to be here with all of you today. it's an honor to have a chance
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to recall the memory of robert kennedy and talk about his ideas that are so powerfully alive today. so thank you all for being here. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, senator, as always. a couple of my other house colleagues that popped in that i want to recognize briefly, brendan boyle, thank you, brendan for coming. senator casey was here, he had to run off the floor to go vote. senator casey was here, he had to run off the floor to go vote. senator klobuchar is here as well who saw me wandering the streets last week and gave me a ride, so thank you for that. [applause] kennedy: we'll be hearing
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from a couple of my other colleagues, barbara lee who is here, john lewis who is here as well, jamie raskin from maryland who just walked in, thank you all for coming. but first, before i get to our next speaker -- and bradley byrne, he's a -- was kind enough to be the republican co-host for this event this evening. we had had a couple of just kind of casual conversations, and he mentioned how he followed my grandfather when he was younger and was a democrat way back when. when i asked them to cohost this of it, he said yes without even a moment's hesitation which, mr. byrne, i'm truly grateful for. he happens to have a democratic opponent this cycle named bobby kennedy. [laughter] rep. kennedy: no relation, i assure you. so ladies and gentlemen, please give me a warm welcome for congressman bradley byrne. [applause]
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mr. byrne: it is an incredible honor for me to be here today. 50 years ago, i was a teenager and, like hundreds of thousands , if not millions of teenagers across america, when senator kennedy stood in this room and hi announced for president it s electrifying and he touched so many people before he announced , but after he announced -- and you've seen the pictures, some of you were there with him, and even though those that weren't in his physical presence, he was touching us, too.
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a couple weeks ago, we had the annual pilgrimage to birmingham, montgomery, and selma and we had robert dorr with us in montgomery, john dorr's son who , who reminded me that john dorr was a republican. and we heard the stories of what senator kennedy and john dorr did in alabama in the 1960's, and i said then and john was there to hear it and i'm going say it again. that changed alabama forever. him so much so that the congress person from selma is an african-american woman named terry sewell who grew up in selma at brown chapel church. [applause] yrne: and senator kennedy spoke to us teenagers , because our parents kind of identified with president kennedy, but even though senator kennedy wasn't that much younger than president kennedy, we identified with him because he spoke in a different way, he
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spoke directly and genuinely and sincerely to us across every line that you can imagine, and we said we like that guy and that was somebody that can inspire us for a long time. and he did inspire me. i got to go with carrie and the family to south africa to celebrate the ripples of hope speech, was that two years ago? a great trip. what a great honor to be there for that and even though i slipped away to the other party, that doesn't mean i don't carry in my heart the things senator kennedy said and meant to so many of us. the speech i remember is the one he gave on the tragic night martin luther king was killed. you all know this but this one particular part of it resonates 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 or lawlessness but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and the feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country whether they be white or they be black. that's a message from 50 years ago at a moment of great tragedy , but it's a message we should carry in our hearts today and
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for days and days to come. thank you to the kennedy family and thank you to the legacy of a great man, senator robert f. . kennedy. [applause] sen. markey: thank you so much, congressman. our next speaker was with robert f. kennedy the night of the martin luther king assassination in indianapolis. he is a civil rights icon, he is the conscience of the united states congress, the great congressman john lewis from the state of georgia. [applause] rep. lewis: thank you very much, senator. i'm delighted, very happy,
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honored, and pleased to be here tonight tonight, for robert kennedy represented the very best of america. i did not know him yet, but robert kennedy first influenced my life in 1961 during the freedom ride. back in 1961, i was 21 years old, had all of my hair, and a few pounds lighter. black people and white people couldn't be seated together on a greyhound bus. leaving washington, d.c. through the south, seated together, using the same restroom facilities, eating at the same lunch counter. but i tell you, it was bobby
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kennedy who was so sympathetic to what we were doing. to bring down those signs that said "white waiting, colored waiting. white men, colored men. white women, colored women." more than anything else, he was a sympathetic referee. when an angry white mob grew outside the first baptist church in montgomery, robert kennedy sent the united states marshals to hold them back. he probably saved our lives. and after i was arrested and taken to the state penitentiary in mississippi, robert kennedy petitioned the interstate commission and warned
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segregation of america's busways and trainways. those signs came tumbling down. [applause] rep. lewis: the only places we would see those signs today would be in a book, in a museum, on a video. i first got to know robert kennedy personally during the spring and summer in 1963. it was during that time that he showed me the capacity to understand that he understood and he empathized with the oppressed.
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i will never forget one day when he pulled me aside and said to me "john, you and the young people of the student non-violent coordinating committee have educated me. you have changed me. i understand." i should probably also mention that during my days with sncc, i was the one who was usually asked to do the robert kennedy impression. i won't try to do it tonight. [laughter] rep. lewis: but i honestly believe that if it had not been for robert kennedy, i would not be serving in congress today. this man inspired me to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, and to find a way to get in the way, to get in what i call good trouble, necessary trouble. i will never forget the day i heard the announcement, senator robert kennedy is running for president.
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immediately i sent a telegram asking,ampaign suggesting i would do anything that i could to help. two days later, i got a telephone call saying that senator kennedy would like for me to come work for the campaign, take a leave from my job. so i flew from atlanta to indianapolis, where i worked to prepare for the upcoming indiana primary. on april 4, 1968, i was organizing a meeting in indianapolis with others for the campaign when someone informed me that dr. king had been shot. we didn't know his condition. there was some discussion about whether or not robert kennedy should come to this meeting. i
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i took the position, it was my imposition that he should come , and he should speak to the audience. i would never, ever forget that speech that night. he said, as someone said already, "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 save is not violence or lawlessness, but 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 they be black." i believe it is one of the
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greatest speeches of all time. robert kennedy had the ability, the capacity to give hope, to inspire people, to lift people up, and move america forward. it was robert kennedy that stood tall. he never gave up. he never gave in. when robert kennedy and martin luther king jr. were both assassinated, something died in all of us. i know something died in me. this man was one of a kind. i miss him every single day. tonight we celebrate the life of a great, unbelievable, wise, and gifted leader. i wish he was with us today. thank you.
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[applause] sen. markey: we have a very, very powerful lineup of speakers this evening. next, channeling this great leadership that robert f. kennedy provided for our country, our next speaker in her book said that she's a renegade for peace and for justice. i give you the great congresswoman from the city of oakland, barbara lee. [applause]
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rep. lee: thank you very much, senator markey. good evening. let me first say to the entire kennedy family, to kerry, to joe, to members of congress, what an honor it is to be with you this evening as we mark the 50th anniversary of robert kennedy's presidential campaign. i can think of no better nice honor bobby's life and his campaign than here in the senate caucus room where he launched his bid for the white house. like many of you, i remember where i was when i learned that bobby kennedy had announced his campaign for president. the the moment for me was a defining moment, like for many americans, but personally, as john lewis just said, his campaign for me represented hope.
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"finally," i thought, "someone who opposed the vietnam had a shot at winning the white house." but the vietnam war wasn't all that was on my mind that day. in 1968, america was bitterly divided. racial tensions were at an all-time high, riots were breaking out in cities all across the nation. the fight for racial and social justice was waging and drawing millions of young people to political activism, including myself. as a young person, i followed dr. martin luther king jr. with microscopic focus. i believed in his dream. i believed in the hope of unifying our nation. in many ways, bobby kennedy's campaign was a signal that the fruits of dr. king's labor were beginning to be revealed. sadly, just 19 days after robert kennedy announced his campaign for president, dr. king was viciously assassinated on april 4, 1968.
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and that also was a day that changed my life forever. like many of you, i was shocked, saddened, and angry. i was devastated, but i was also motivated to fight harder for the dream that dr. king lived his life and died for. i was determined to prove that even though the assassin killed the dream, he could not kill the dream -- killed the dreamer, he could not kill the dream. that night that dr. king was assassinated, robert kennedy addressed the nation on the campaign trail, and congressman byrne and others have presented this quote tonight, but i think in these times, it's truer and it rings louder than ever, so i'd like to reiterate what he said that night. he said "what we need in the united states is not division. what we need the united states is not hatred. what we need in the united states is not violence or
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lawlessness, but 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 they be black." i knew that bobby kennedy believed in dr. king's dream. his life was about that. i also believed deeply that he would fight to make it come true, as he was doing. he understood that racism was tearing our nation apart, and he was determined to unify this country through the kind of intersectional coalition that we rely on today. a coalition that includes people of color, young people, women, everyday americans, and over the course of his 82-day campaign , one thing was certain -- robert kennedy was determined to fight for what was right. for 82 days, he spoke out against the vietnam war. for 82 days, he called for justice in every speech he gave on crime. for 82 days, he challenged young americans to reach their highest potential. he spoke out against poverty.
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he stood up for civil rights. and he fought the fight for really the very soul of our nation. the tragic assassination of robert kennedy in los angeles, california on june 5 was one of the darkest moments in my life and in american history. i will always remember that heart-wrenching moment when my aunt called. she's 97 years old now. she called me at my home in san jose and told me the tragic, shocking news. i turned on the television immediately, and i broke down in tears. i believe to this day that had he lived, robert kennedy would have been the 37th president of the united states of america. i believe that. [applause] rep. lee: i'm convinced of that. the courage and conviction which bobby kennedy approached public service has inspired me and countless others to speak out and fight for what is just and
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what is right. so today as we remember and commemorate his campaign and the values that bobby kennedy represented, we remember once again his wise words. few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. thank you again and god bless. [applause] rep. kennedy: barbara, thank you very much for the extraordinarily kind words. i want to recognize -- i missed mentioned him before, but the
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senior members of the house democratic caucus, mr. levin, is here. sandy, thank you very, very much as always. [applause] rep. kennedy: for your friendship and for your dedication to our country, honored to be with you, thank you for taking the time tonight. it is a distinct honor for me to introduce a member of democratic house leadership in mr. steny hoyer. mr. hoyer -- i get asked sometimes when did i first meet steny, and the answer to that is "i have no idea." as far as i know, he's been around our dinner table for -- just like every other aunt and uncle. so he has been there for my family as a friend for year after year. he makes the time every year to come on up and support rfk human rights, the organization founded after my grandfather's passing. he has been a friend and a mentor to me, for which i am extraordinarily grateful. but i also have to recognize
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with a strong dose of humility that there are countless other members of congress -- democrat and republican -- that can say the exact same thing about steny hoyer. he still views this profession, his profession, as an honorable one, and he has dedicated his life to making sure the policy that the policies crafted in rooms and conference rooms like this, in these marble halls, reflect the challenges, the anxieties, the optimism of every single american, and he has done it with extraordinary grace, dedication, tenacity, and a pretty good dose of humor, too. steny, thank you for making the time. please, welcome steny hoyer. [applause] rep. hoyer: i'm glad i came to hear that introduction. [laughter] rep. hoyer: he stood there.
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his name was john. he was bobby's brother, and he made an extraordinary difference in my life. he came to the university of maryland. i was a sophomore. i had made 1.7 and 1.0 in my freshman year. [laughter] rep. hoyer: didn't really have my act together. and in the summer of 1959, john kennedy drove up to where he was fieldhouse, where he was to address the students for a student convocation, and he talked about young people getting involved in politics. and he said they could make a difference. i made a 3.8 that semester, and
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seven years later i was elected to the state senate having graduated from georgetown law school five months before that. when john kennedy was shot on november 22, 1963, i and the nation sobbed -- not cried -- sobbed for four days. my life has been entwined ever since with the kennedy family -- either personally -- because it was some years thereafter that i really became personally involved, kerry is here, a very dear friend of mine, kathleen, my governor. i worked very heart to make kathleen governor of our state, and she would have been a wonderful governor. [applause] rep. hoyer: and in a few short
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days, i'm going to be honored to travel down the florida to celebrate the 90th birthday of bobby's wife, ethel. [applause] rep. hoyer: i was a generation that was so inspired by john kennedy. you're saying yes, but this is about bobby. yes, it is. and i learned everything i could about john kennedy, and you could not learn about john kennedy without learning about bobby kennedy. is chris still here? i flew back from phoenix monday, and i finished the last 125 pages of chris' book. i had not really read it for the purpose of being here, but i got to know bobby better who announced for president.
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and i think barbara lee is right -- had fate allowed him to survive, he would have been the president of the united states. and what i got from chris' book was a little more of the depth of robert kennedy. of the humanity of robert kennedy, of that idealism of robert kennedy. the deep and abiding intellectual integrity that he had and displayed everyday of his life. and that is why we honor him. remembering him, feeling sorry for ourselves that we didn't have him as our president. he would have made such a difference, because he brought
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to theral commitment job. and like all of us, he grew. we all grow, we all become more knowledgeable, we all become more sensitive, and he did that. which is the mark, of course, of a wise human being. and in chris' book, i felt more the love and the depth of caring for average working people facing challenges everyday. for the farm workers in california. kerry, he'd be so proud of you for keeping that torch high and alive and bright for so many people here and around the world. an extraordinary family composed
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of extraordinary individuals who have made our country better. john kennedy said it much better than, frankly, it's been said recently. he said "this is a great country that can be greater." and robert kennedy stood for the proposition that this is a good country, but it can be better. it can be more empathetic, sympathetic, caring, lifting up. i probably already have spoken too long, but i was watching television that night in june, as i'm sure so many of you war ere, and i cried again. i cried again for that which might have been for all of us.
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and for our country. and, indeed, for the world at large. at his funeral, his brother said "my brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond that which he was in life -- a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it, who saw war and tried to stop it." we were blessed by robert kennedy's life and legacy. thank you. [applause]
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sen. markey: in the united states senate, i get to serve with many people, but there's one irishman who channels the passion, the pragmatism, the humor of robert f. kennedy. i give you the great senator from the state of pennsylvania, robert casey. [applause] sen. casey: thank you very much. thank you. i want to first of all thank everyone for this opportunity to be able to celebrate the life and the achievements of robert f. kennedy. i never had the opportunity to meet him, of course, but i know him through his family, starting with kathleen and kerry and so many family members who are here. i guess some of the way i stopped some of the same footsteps as a member of the
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senate, but particularly, i happened to just by chance be in the office where his brother served in the 1950's. that happens around here when your room assignment comes. i had the chance to be able to work in the same office. the other connection i guess i have is my father introduced him in our hometown of scranton at a st. patrick's day dinner. the friendly sons of st. patrick's in 1964, he was a a rousingr, gave him introduction, and then, of course, attorney general kennedy gave a great speech and not long after his brother's assassination. but i'm thinking tonight of him and thinking of his brothers. i i had the chance to serve with teddy for a short period of time and just saw his son teddy last night at a disability dinner.
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but i'm thinking as well, wow, could we use him today? in all the fights we've had, especially the last little more than a year, think about how he could help us on the fight against cuts to medicaid, for example. wouldn't that be great to have him with us in that? [applause] sen. casey: but in so many ways , he's still with us -- by way of his family, which is the best evidence he's still with us, by way of legacy, so many achievements, and by way of inspiration. so many people in this country, democrat and republican, are still inspired by his work and his service. the great line attributed abraham lincoln as about life itself. it's not about the years in your that counts, it's the life in
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in those years, and what an example he was of that precept. finally, let me say this, there are a lot of words to describe him, others come up with words better than i, but one word i think tells us about who he was and what he means to us still , and that word is "justice." st. augustin said without justice, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers? he understood that. he lived a life committed to justice, and by being here today, you're helping us celebrate his life, his commitment to justice and his legacy. god bless you and thank you. [applause] sen. markey: 1968 was one of the
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most memorable years in the history of the united states. just two months before robert kennedy was assassinated, so, too, was martin luther king in memphis as he was there leading a sanitation worker's strike. here representing the city of memphis is their great congressman steve cohen. please come up, steve. [applause] rep. cohen: thank you to all the attendees here, my colleagues, the kennedy family. i think originally i was supposed to be introduced after joe, and i thought oh, my god, i'm going to have to follow joe. and then i was kind of happy elizabeth warren spoke, and then i think oh, my god, i have to follow john lewis. [laughter] rep. cohen: it's difficult to follow any of them. it's great to be here. like steny, i'm a few years younger, and i remember the moments when john kennedy spoke , and when john kennedy was assassinated and when robert kennedy was assassinated, and the tears that i had and the tears i have that whenever i see
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films of those events, even to this day i tear up whenever i see them and anything just conjures it up. i was going to quote ted kennedy and what he said about robert kennedy at the funeral that he saw wrong and tried to write it, suffering and tried to heal it and tried to stop it. and that parallels the three "isms" that martin luther king talked about in 1967 -- militarism, materialism, and racism. robert kennedy and martin luther king shared the same philosophy , and they wanted to see our country be so much greater, and they didn't see justice as something you get out of a law book or read. justice was something you saw in your heart, and you developed it as you thought it should be, not what people said it was. you saw a better world and you tried to make it that way. if robert kennedy was elected the 37th president, we would have had a southern strategy that would have been different than the southern strategy that nixon gave us, which has polluted our politics and our
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country to this day. and we would have had a southern strategy that concentrated on removing the legacy of jim crow and slavery in the south and giving people opportunity and jobs and a decent life and health care. such a major difference, and it's just so sad. i'm honored to serve in the senate, in the house where john kennedy served and in the same basic branch where robert kennedy did. i'm from the south, i'm from memphis, so i'm the paul corbin strain of the kennedy family. i knew john. robert kennedy gave much to our country, his family has given much. we're the better for it. and what i think you think about robert kennedy and martin luther king, their dream -- the dream is still alive, and in memphis when we reflect on mlk 50 and we think about what was and what
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dr. king wanted to see and what still doesn't exist, it's the same thing robert kennedy saw and still doesn't exist, and so 50 years later, what we see with each is that the ripples of hope that robert kennedy talked about in south africa are still out there, and each and every one of us have to be tiny ripples of hope, to wipe down the mightiest walls of oppression wherever they exist, and whether they exist in racism, whether they exist in militarism, or whether they exist at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, we have to wipe them out and every voice and every spirit , and every ripple counts. so keep your ripples coming, remember robert kennedy and martin luther king jr. [applause] rep. kennedy: steve, thank you very much, my friend.
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a couple other colleagues that came in paul tanko, who i'm not sure if he's still -- thank you so much for coming. and ruben kihuen from las vegas, nevada. thank you for coming as well, my friend. it's my distinct honor to recognize another one of my colleagues from the house, an absolute champion for social justice, someone who stands up and speaks out and makes sure her voice is heard and that the house of representatives has -- will always have a champion that is willing to call people out and hold a moral ground up high in sheila jackson lee. ladies and gentlemen, please help me in welcoming her. [applause] i know youn-lee: didn't see any rustling over there, but i think every member of member of the house would rustle to get a moment to say something about this great spirit. thank you, joe, thank you, kerry, thank you kathleen, thank
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you, kathleen's daughter, and the little one that is being held in your arms. thank you to the kennedy family, and thank you for being most of all the inspiration that so many arry-eyedain stor storyst and have guided us in the question and the quest of public service. i think it's an honor to talk about those 82 days, which as my colleague has said, all of us would have been ready to be at an inauguration for robert francis kennedy. many of us saw many of us saw him as the bright and shining light. many of you know that we as african-americans, people of color, native americans, cesar chavez, were just about coming into our own. i remember rushing to work for the southern christian leadership conference. i did so, however, because of my age after the assassination of dr. king and after the assassination of bobby kennedy.
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so many of us with black and white televisions saw this horror and really could not believe what we were seeing. we knew rfk, robert fitzgerald kennedy, i knew him because he went to appalachia and began to show what poverty was and why should we tolerate or stand for it. we knew him as a brother. we knew him as a senator. we knew him as a champion of civil rights. we knew him ultimately as a martyr. but for me, i knew him as the door opener. i had dignity too. there was nothing shameful about my color or my status. i could walk in dignity in this nation. he told me i could! he told so many young people, no matter what their background, he
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told us we could serve. he said to us "john is gone, but i am here." it gave us hope. i know him, and i know that you know him, most of us know him as a freedom fighter, champion for civil rights and justice. he could fight with his heart, but he had some mighty big fists. and i always felt protected because he was there. reminded of the song -- "someone tell me where my old friend bobby is. my old friend john." how interesting that we americans felt that they were brothers together. so as i reflect back, i know that bobby kennedy was not just merely a man of his time, but he had a spirit that has transcended all of this, and maybe in the backdrop of the toxicity of our time, i can still wrap myself in the hope as i come into this room of the family that have sacrificed for decades. thank you to the kennedys, but
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certainly of bobby and john, and certainly of my colleague joe and my colleague joe, his father. it is very special to have had the opportunity to serve with men and women who understand equality, dignity, fairness, humanity, and empathy. i had the privilege of meting the grandson of cesar chavez. i'm reminded of the pictures of robert meeting him, farm workers. there seemed to be no group in america that he left untouched. and so i hope that we will capture decency, respect, humility, and embrace them all. i hope as you're in this room, you will find a sense of uprightness. each person should walk out of here six, seven, eight feet tall, and we should be able to spread our wings for justice and equality and to refute and to rebut all those negatives that
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others are trying to pour into the souls of america. we have bobby kennedy to uphold the message. so i simply leave you with two things. one, the words that were said that he used as he broke the news. "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're white or black or any other person of dignity." and then and then this is my real message, because i give this to the young people of america. have hope. bobby said "i dream of things that never were and ask why not. " to all of those who are out on the lawn lifting their voices
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against gun violence, take bobby kennedy under your wings and let him lift you. always ask the question, when you find things that are not, why not? that is robert francis kennedy. [applause] rep. kennedy: sheila, thank you. , as always, for doing what you do best. grateful. thank you for making the time for us. ladies and gentlemen, it is another distinct honor for me to be able to introduce democratic leader, the first female speaker of the house in the united states' history, a dear friend, a champion for justice, somebody that -- i will share this story with you all briefly, so you can sit down, leader.
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[laughter] rep. kennedy: it'll be a little while. when i first got here, i took a little advice from some of my senior colleagues. they said first term, just go around and talk to people. talk to members, both sides of the aisle, introduce yourself, get to know them. i remember sitting in the office of a republican colleague who had been here for quite some time, and the votes were about to get called. and his television was tuned to the house floor. leader pelosi leader pelosi happened to be speaking. he looked up at the screen and pointed at it and said "the leader of this party is not half the leader that nancy pelosi is." and i agreed. i was somewhat surprised to hear the comment. and the insight was something i could not agree with more strongly. he said leader pelosi has leveraged over the course of her career her political power for good. i will not always
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agree with her decision, but she accumulates that power to leverage it to change our country. ours, achieve it, to hold on to it, not to change the world. ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor for me to introduce someone who has changed our country and the world, nancy pelosi. [applause] rep. pelosi: thank you. isn't it lovely to be introduced by representative joseph kennedy iii? weren't we proud of him and his response to the president? it wasn't a response to the president. it was a statement of values about a positive message of values, again, for our country. thank you, joe, for your
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leadership. where did he go? he's greeting another guest. so as i look around the room, i see many friends, the family of robert kennedy, of course. kathleen and kerry and mr. chairman from massachusetts, chairman johnson. but so many of you are my colleagues as well. what to say? you've heard it all. you know it all. you were there, many of you, to hear it, here in this room where both president kennedy and robert kennedy announced their candidacies for president of the united states. the history of it all, just the fact they were here and present and the values that they represented and the legacy that that is for our country, is so important. robert kennedy was his own individual leader. of course, he was a kennedy, with all of the aura, with all the values, with all the experience, with all the knowledge. but there was something about him that was very, very appealing to the american people.
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i come from a political family. my father was the mayor of baltimore. my brother was a mayor. you know how exciting that was. eight years later, my brother, tommy, was mayor of baltimore, and he was for robert kennedy. he loved robert kennedy. my brother is like the finest, most wonderful values-based -- i'll call him a politician, because i consider that very noble. and it was something about the values that tie, that so many people were attracted to robert kennedy about. it wasn't pragmatic -- it was almost spiritual. so when the campaign was announced, well, you've been standing a while, but i'll tell you this story.
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so they go to the maryland convention, and they're going to endorse and elect -- establish the process for electing delegates for maryland. my father, old school, chair of the party, all that stuff, he was the mayor for 12 years. all that. he was for hubert humphrey, his friend, right. and my brother was for robert kennedy, another generation. and that clash of generations was one that took place within our own family. again, two wonderful people, values-based, both my brother and my father, and hubert humphrey and robert kennedy. so when we were all prepared to go to the convention and the rest and it was very exciting, by then i was living in new york. i wasn't even living in california. i was living in new york. so we were all excited about robert kennedy's nomination.
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and when that did not happen, it was something so personal, right? so personal. people that didn't even know, it was so personal. and again, it was spiritual. i can't help but think when we think of robert kennedy and what he was about, hope and rather than despair and love instead of hate and the rest of that, it's the song of st. francis, this is the anthem of the city of san francisco, which i had the privilege of representing. and it goes, "make me a channel of thy peace. where there's hatred, love, despair, hope, darkness, light. " the song of st. francis. that was what he was about. how proud he would be of his children, his grandchildren, and
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now great grandchildren. how proud he would be of how they have carried that legacy in their own individual, personal way. [applause] he warned that our right to moral leadership on this planet is at stake when he was running. that rings so true now. i had the privilege of serving with joseph kennedy ii. i had the privilege of serving with joseph kennedy iii. i say privilege because he has -- he reminds me so much of his grandfather. it's just a funny thing. most members were probably not old enough to have had any interaction or even been in the same room or something as a volunteer student with robert kennedy. but he reminds me so much of
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him. but the whole family, whether it's kerry with the human rights committee -- foundation or kathleen running in maryland. kathleen, we take great pride of her in maryland. but the whole family, every one of them, in so many ways that you know, all of you know, are about values, about acting upon values. and getting back to joe, deciding to engage in the public sector. in the family tradition, but as his grandfather did, making his own mark. and that is something that gives hope to so many people. certainly inspiring to everyone. and just -- i feel so honored to be able to participate in this and share how our family interacted with the robert kennedy campaign those many
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years ago and to be in this room. what power he had as a personality that 50 years later, we are here to observe, indeed to celebrate, the contribution he was willing to make for our country, the sacrifice that he did. thank you, all, so much. [applause] sen. markey: in 1968 in california, robert f. kennedy put together an incredible coalition to win that primary and to give the whole country hope.
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he partnered with cesar chavez to organize the farm workers, to give a voice to the farm workers. today in the united states senate, the voice of the farm workers of california, of the poor and the sick across our country, the great senator from the state of california, camilla harris. [applause] -- kamala harris. [applause] sen. harris: thank you. i'm honored to have been asked to speak, and on this day, this celebration of 50 years of a man who epitomizes the best of who we are as a country and who 50 years talked about his vision of who we are and what we can be. and indeed he was a visionary.
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what i take personal, sense of connection with is him as a prosecutor. you know, i grew up the daughter of parents who met when they were active in the civil rights movement. my sister and i joke, we grew up with a bunch of adults who spent full time marching and shouting for this thing called justice. and who but robert kennedy epitomizes the power of the prosecutor to fight for justice. ? let's remember what he did with this united states department of justice. he understood that to fight for justice means to fight for equality under the law, fight for fairness, be a voice for the vulnerable and the voiceless. and so what he did with the united states department of justice was to highlight what it means to truly be a voice for the people as a prosecutor. it was he who sent officials from the united states
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department of justice to protect the freedom riders. let's remember that. it was he who as the leader of the united states department of justice sent united states marshals to protect james meredith when he was enrolling at ole miss. it was he who helped push for the appointment of a young lawyer by the name of thurgood marshall. circuit and who of course want to be a great leader in the united states supreme court. that was the vision of the prosecutor who was robert kennedy. and then we know that as a leader in our country, understanding the beauty of who we are and who we can be, he had a vision he spoke of 50 years ago. when he spoke out against, and i will quote, "the inexcusable and ugly deprivation which causes children to starve in mississippi, black citizens
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to riot, young indians to commit suicide on their reservations, and proud and able-bodied families to wait out their lives in empty idleness in eastern kentucky." kennedy understood, he understood that the fight for justice is the fight to connect all people, understanding we all have so much more in common than what separates us. he understood that this was about the interconnection between all people who need a voice and who must be seen and given dignity. as a californian, it is a moment of pride for us -- nancy knows this, our great leader -- that we take pride in california in having been the recipients of his attention when he looked
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west, concerning himself. as a senator from new york, concerning himself with what was happening with the farm workers in california. i know many have spoken about that. but it is still the subject of great conversation and inspiration when they talk about how he came and traveled. he wasn't sure that he had a sense of connection with them, but he was invited and he went. and then he kept going back. he was with cesar chavez as he broke his fast. and i will tell you in the chavez family, this is something they talk about with an incredible amount of warmth and strength as they continue the fight for farm workers in california and around the country. and i will bring greetings to you from julie chavez rodriguez, his granddaughter, who is actually my state director in california. so he inspired so many of us, and his legacy
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certainly lives on. i'll just end with this. you know, he talked about, and i'll quote again, "the world demands the qualities of youth, not a time of life but a state of mind. the qualities of youth." we've been facing so many challenges as a country, but the words that he spoke then hold so true today. and most of us who work in this incredible place, we see it every day. we've been seeing his words in action when those young dreamers walk the halls of the united states congress every day in the thousands. they have been traveling here from around the country, god only knows how they afford to get here. i am certain they're sleeping 10 deep on someone's living room floor. and these young people have been walking the halls of this united states congress, because they believe that if they are seen and if their stories are heard, that they will matter and have
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impact. they believe in our democracy. those are the words of robert kennedy that are being lived in these halls today. the words of kennedy are being lived in the halls today. when we look out on the mall and see all those high school students who were here and have been marching around our country speaking truth, unedited, unfiltered, and moving for legislation, moving us in the united states congress to act. so it couldn't be more appropriate, poignant, and a better coincidence in time to today celebrate 50 years ago the words he spoke and the vision he had then for our country. and i believe that his vision, we are living it, and we will keep living it.
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as he spoke in particular, "this world demands the qualities of youth," and i think the youth are speaking, and they are speaking with his spirit in mind. thank you. [applause] sen. markey: we have been joined by debbie stabenow, patrick , but here to tell you just a little story -- last year, i had an idea for a bill. i shared it with our next speaker, united states senator. createa bill the technologies to detect fentanyl before it reached the borders of our country. 75% of all opioid deaths have
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fentanyl in the bloodstream of those the him's. for 10 minutes in his office, we spoke about the issue. and then, for the next 50 minutes, we talked about robert f kennedy, his knowledge of robert f kennedy, and john kennedy and ted kennedy was enormous. ability to relate the message of robert f kennedy to today was powerful and deep. today isessage something that i think reflects to the american people his ability to understand what robert f kennedy was trying to signal to our country. i give you, my friends, the great congressman of the state
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of florida, marco rubio. [applause] rubio: thank you. i am honored to be here. 1956.ents arrived in they did not become citizens until 1976. but my mother tells me she was an american well before she was a citizen. i remember asking her when did you know you are an american? she said she knew she was an american in november 1963 when she wept at the loss of a young president. she realized at that moment that she had been fully americanized and shared the dreams and hopes of the new era that inspired people who are registered to vote and those who are not mother inspired people that were americans and that were not. youth, talkedfrom extensively about the kennedy family contribution. the one i was always most due respecty, with
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to president kennedy, was senator robert kennedy. alwaysst thing i have been impressed by was the unique wisdom for a man who was so young when he was the attorney general. i had the a trinity in 2015 to spend about four hours at the kennedy library and listen to the tapes of the cuban missile crisis. my interest was to try to understand how crisis was managed in an era when we do not have the ability to communicate that we have today. when i was struck by was that president kennedy listen to the military experts in the room that were advising him. we would have had a nuclear war. we don't have time to get into all the details. suffice it to say, if he had listened to them, little did he orders to were retaliate with a nuclear response, who knows what the world would have looked like, whether we would be standing here today to give this speech.
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instead, he listened to his brother. in particular, he listened to his brother who was a very young man at the moment, who advised him wisely to ignore khrushchev's second letter and listen to the first one. he understood that khrushchev was in a difficult position internally. that position probably saved the world from calamity. i don't think it is an exaggeration to say that robert kennedy is the most consequential american of the second half of the 20th century who did not become president. the second thing that always struck me about him was -- i'm not robert kennedy, but i can be impulsive and somehow he was able to channel that in awesomeness into the greater good. time asit early on at a a lawyer when he set his eyes on organized crime. you see old films of it and read
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the historical record. when he latched on, he latched on and it was hard to get you off him. -- get him off it. mind thatde up his someone was wrong or that someone was bad, that was a bad thing for you if you were the person on the side of that. that level of impulsivity and energy behind causes he felt , somethingr right sorely missing in american politics today for a lot of different reasons. the third point, the most impacted me, is robert kennedy after 1963. not that he was a different person, but he had been changed by the events of november 1963 in ways that i will never fully understand. obviously, i did not know the man and i certainly don't his off thend i go historical record in the writings of many who have written about him and i read .xtensively, i would say i'm guessing at least a dozen
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books and different articles about trying to understand the man. something happened to robert kennedy in the years that followed 1963. one of the things that happened is one of the things i wish we could do more. people he was exposed to different than himself, different ideas, different viewpoints, different parts of the country, and different parts of the world. something happens to a person of good faith with an open mind when you meet people that have different viewpoints and different experiences, maybe even from a different cultural background. you may not end up agreeing with their ideas, but you understand why they are with ar and why they feel how the feel. and in some ways, it contributes to the greater good. that today is nearly impossible in modern american politics. .t is certainly not rewarded there subtly known senate. modern american politics today incentivize is outrageous
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speech, over-the-top statements. you want to be famous quickly, save crazy things on primetime tv and people will know who you are. the problem is we no longer talk to each other and people go to their corners and we are more isolated than ever before. but not robert kennedy. he specifically chose to reach out to parts of the country and parts of the world that others were not thinking about and those that were not being talked about. people city and the energy he brought to bear on a host of other issues as attorney general became a cause of party and inequality around america. he spoke about apartheid 20 years before it was cool. and one who was viewed by suspicion over civil rights became its foremost champion. and perhaps the only white american on the night that martin luther king was assassinated who could have possibly stood up and given the speech he made that prevented a
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riot on a night that so many american cities burned, but because of the tragedy he lived and the credibility he had established. it is something on a different level -- i have never experienced the tragedy he lived with, but i had the opportunity to run for president. the one thing you did was forced me and taught me to leave where i live in the people i was always around and spend time understanding the viewpoints of other people. that doesn't mean you change your mind on what is right on -- right or wrong. it means you understand what other people are going through. and in so doing, makes you open to their point of view, their argument, and ultimately to try to find common ground for the greater good. i don't know -- i don't think anyone can tell for sure. everyone has to be judged and analyzed through the lens of their time. but i would like to believe that one of the reasons why i have taken an interest in human rights here and around the world
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and the cause of political prisoners in expression and not ,ppression, a hashtag campaign it is in some ways inspired by how u.s. energy -- u.s. senator could use the platform. none of us can predict with full certainty what robert kennedy's views would be today, but i am pretty sure about a few. i'm pretty sure robert kennedy would be outraged and leading the charge against the war crimes committed on a regular .asis in syria i'm sure he would be outraged by the thousands of political prisoners around the world. would be outraged by discrimination against people all across this planet. i think he would share the concern that we should have, the fundamental promise of the that we all are
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children of a god who gave us the right to life and liberty and pursuit to happiness. the absence of that is the ultimate challenge to the american experiment, to a revolution that began over 200 years ago but has not yet finished. because the notion that all people should have a chance to fulfill their dreams is a difficult proposition and one that we continue to try to perfect. so i end where i began by saying i don't think it's an exaggeration to say that he is the most consequential american of the second half of the 20th century who was not president and one of the most consequential overall. i would also say that in so many ways, we spent much of the last 30 years of the last century wondering what the world would have been like and what this country would have done had he not lost his life in california on that night. what would have happened if he had become president? what would have happened if we would have been spared watergate, a lot of different things, perhaps a quicker end to the war, and who knows what the course of history would have taken.
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that question lingers over the fundamental questions of the last century but also serves as an example to those of us in contemporary times to try to emulate some of that passion and that dedication into the causes of today. and so it is why i've always been so fascinated by robert kennedy. the biggest compliment, he was real. it's not a varnish you see at all. you see the impulsiveness. you see the dedication to the greater good. you just felt like this was a real person who sometimes was wrong and sometimes was right but always was working for what he thought was right in a way that was passionate without concern for politics, for the criticism of others, and ultimately even for his own safety. and i think it's a powerful example at a time in which we desperately need that in both parties and across our political spectrum. so it's an honor to be here two days removed from the anniversary of his announcement for president, when you used to be able to announce your candidacy in this building. i thank you for the opportunity to share that with all aof you.
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thank you. [applause] robert f. kennedy gave his most famous speech in cape town in 1966. here representing the government of south africa, ambassador speaking on behalf of his gott government and people. welcome, ambassador. [applause]
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>> thank you, master of ceremony. let me start by greeting the family of kennedy this evening. and also recognize the congressmen here present, all great leaders, and say to all of you, all protocol observed, ladies and gentlemen. it is a great honor to me to be given this opportunity to say a few words at this very special occasion tonight. like many speakers before me have related and accounted to all the good work that kennedy had done before, i would also just like to add my word on behalf of the south african government on what i think this leader was.
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this year, 2018, south africa celebrates the life of our first democratically elected president. had he been alive, president mandela would be 100 years old this year. and i would like to take this opportunity, if the kennedys allow me, to announce tonight that we are celebrating his 100th year this years, all of the year, and we've already kicked off in america. many celebrations are going on. some of you will be attending these celebrations. similarly, today we are commemorating another world leader, robert kennedy, and the impact he made.
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true leaders, inspirational leaders like this, like these men, should continue to be celebrated and remain a constant reminder to current and future leaders of their obligation to the people they represent. as a junior senator from new york in 1966, robert kennedy delivered a speech to the national union of south african students, members of the university of cape town in south africa. in the speech, he did not shy away from addressing the issues of the time. he famously said, open the coat. it is from courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against
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injustice. it sends a tiny ripple of hope, close quote. now, you'd understand why i'm quoting these words from robert kennedy. it is because south africa, that time when he spoke in south africa, it was a time of difficulty to many of us, particularly those of black color. it was a very difficult and turbulent moment for the people who suffered a lot under oppressive laws of the country and the unjust and unfair system of government that we were living in.
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and through the voice of robert kennedy, those words have spread throughout the country, and a lot of the people began to understand what democracy means, which way to go, what justice is all about, what fairness is all about, what dmostemocracy is about. today we're very proud to stand here, in particular myself, to represent my country in this country, united states of america, coming from a country that is free today, a country that is democratic today, a country that has been assisted a lot by people like robert kennedy. we stand tall. we stand proud.
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and we want to thank you, a lot of you who worked with robert kennedy to assist the country to be what it is today. true leaders, inspirational leaders, work tirelessly to improve the lots of their people and fight the battles against injustices. president mandela left this life for the people who fought battles and injustices for his people. he once said, i quote him as well, president mandela said, i cherish the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. it is an ideal which i hope to live for and to achieve. but it is an ideal for which i am prepared to die, close quote. if mandela and robert kennedy
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were still alive, both of them, i'm sure they would have stood in front of you today and repeated the same because they were committed to fight for justice for all of the people, not just of their countries, but for the people of the world. the two gentlemen i mentioned today, both global leaders, both inspirational leaders to their people and the world, but more importantly both dedicated to it the improvement of their fellow human beings and both who made a true impact on history and shaped the world today. let us celebrate our leaders and continue to be the reminder for the principles and values they lived their lives by. the big question that we should remain within our minds today is
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what type of leadership we're building for our young children and what examples are we showing to them so they can be better leaders in the future. thank you for listening. [applause] thank you, mr. ambassador, very -- thank you, mr. ambassador, very much. now, in this room each year, there are awards which are presented by the robert f. kennedy human rights organization. they're given to courageous people in countries around the world who risked their lives in order to bring justice for those people in their countries who otherwise would be defenseless. the head of that organization
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genetically hard wired to be just like her father. the author of "speak truth to power human rights defenders who are changing our world" is a one-woman multinational public interest movement unto herself. robert f. kennedy's daughter, kerry. [applause] kerry: thank you, everyone. well, i want to thank everybody for coming and especially the great amazing eddie for organizing all of this and having us all and being such a great leader and an inspiration to all of us. and his amazing wife susan who is also such a great leader, an extraordinary woman. so we have like three minutes, and we have another seven or eight speakers.
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i'm going to say thank you so much to our speakers who we invited today and who prepared today but who we're not going to hear from. i want to say a special thanks to my amazing sister kathleen, to peter edelman -- oh, you might want to hold that or that will be the end of the three minutes. to peter edelman who worked with my father and is such an extraordinary leader. thank you, peter. and he just wrote a book that i highly recommend about poverty in america and the criminalization of poverty. what's it called, peter? "it's not a crime to be poor." everyone go buy that book. it's amazing. scott is here, who's on our board. and phil johnston. thank you so much, all of you, for being here.
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kerry townsend was going to say a few words. jeff, who also wrote a great book about daddy. where's jeff? there he is right in the back. and rick allen, who's one of our dearest friends of our family and wrote one of my really favorite books about my father. it's just being reissued. it used to be called "robert f. kennedy collected speeches." but it's got a new name. "robert f. kennedy his words for our time." go and buy that book. and i've got a book coming out in may called "robert f. kennedy rebels of hope." so get that while you're at the bookstore. i guess, you know, i had a whole ream of things to say tonight,
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but i think i'm going to end with this quote from my father, which i think we just need to keep in mind as we go out into the world. he said it is not enough to allow dissent. we must demand it for there is much to dissent from. we dissent from the fact that millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich. we dissent from the conditions and hatreds which deny a full life to our fellow citizens because of the color of their skin. we dissent from the monstrous absurdity of a world where nations stand poised to destroy one another and man must kill their fellow man. we dissent from the sight of most of mankind living in poverty, stricken by disease, and doomed to an early death after life of unremitting labor. we dissent from cities which blunt our senses and turn the ordinary of daily life into a painful struggle. we dissent from the willful, heedless destruction of natural pleasure and beauty. we dissent from all the structures of technology and of society itself which stripped
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from the individual the dignity and warmth of sharing in the common task of his community and his country. daddy said that the strongest criticism often goes hand in hand with the greatest ideals and love of country. i think we need to keep all of that in mind. it is our patriotic duty to dissent when we see so much destruction going on. and that's a sign of life and beauty and love for our country. really, i want to thank our leadership council and others. can we give a big round of applause to linda laney for organizing all this today?
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[applause] we're clapping for you, wherever you are. there she is. she's organizing the next event. i can see her walking across the hall. we're clapping for you. there she is. now she's waving and saying thank you. thank you, all, for coming. thank you for being part of this. as and thank you, especially, for carrying forward my father's unfinished work on social justice. and a big thanks to all of the people who work atttttert f. kennedyork at robert f human rights because you're doing the work in the fields day after day to carry forward his unfinished work. thank you. [applause]
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> good morning. we are broadcasting this morning of the announcement of robert f kennedy of new york that he will be attended for the presidency. he is doing so with solid opposition from the state chairman of the credit party of this country. only three state chairman have, in favor of mr. kennedy's candidacy.
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>> i am announcing today my candidacy for the presidency of the united states. run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. convinceduse i am 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 am 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 gap that now exists between black and white, between rich and poor, in thisyoung and old 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
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stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation of man instead of the growing risk of world war. >> all i have to run on is my commitment and what i thought was my integrity as i submitted it to people who prepared to raise opposition to the johnson administration. many were willing to stay up on the mountain and right signal fires and bonfires, but none of them came down. it was a little lonely in new hampshire. you were there. i walked alone. they were not even coming in from outside and they were throwing the message of the fence. >> senator kennedy says he's coming to wisconsin. >> i heard him say that. we'll have this -- we will have to wait and see. i could have used helping enhancer. >> c-span, -- help in new
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hasher. >> c-span, where history unfolds. c-span was created by america's cable television companies. today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by >> railamerica, by the reagan appeared on cbs's face the nation. that is a president discusses the 9016 presidential candidates including richard nixon, rough -- he also discusses liberalism and conservatism, student protest, the recent assassination of robert kennedy and what he argues are the failures of democrats congress and the white house.
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>> at the republican governors conference and tells her, the consensus was that for today's you conducted your sound like a candidate for your parties residential or vice presidential nomination. do you still maintain you are still not a possible contender for other office? it will be hard to know where anyone got that idea, i attended all the meetings. i don't know of anything i did on the outside other than a great to a press conference. other than


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