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Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary


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<P>On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the Indiana 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 brushing off 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.</P><P>Marking the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's Indianapolis speech, 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 was an underdog, had a decisive victory. </P>
<P>Contents<BR>Acknowledgments</P><P>1. A Landmark for Peace <BR>2. The Decision <BR>3. The Governor <BR>4. The Speech<BR>5. The Campaign<BR>6. The Voters Speak<BR>7. The Train</P><P>Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy's Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968<BR>Notes<BR>Selected Bibliography<BR>Index</P>



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Published 11 February 2008
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EAN13 9780253007759
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Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary
Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary
Portions of this book previously appeared in the spring 1997 and winter 1999 issues of the Indiana Historical Society publicationTraces of Indiana and Midwestern History.
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA
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© 2008 by Ray E. Boomhower All rights reserved
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Boomhower, Ray E., date Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana primary / Ray E. Boomhower. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-253-35089-3 (cloth) 1. Kennedy, Robert F., 1925–1968. 2. Kennedy, Robert F., 1925–1968—Oratory. 3. Presidential candidates—United States—Biography. 4. Political campaigns—Indiana— History—20th century. 5. Primaries—Indiana—History—20th century. 6. Indiana—Politics and government—20th century. 7. United States—Politics and government—1963–1969. 8. Speeches, addresses, etc., American. 9. Legislators—United States—Biography. 10. United States. Congress. Senate—Biography. I. Title. E840.8.K4B66 2008 973.922—dc22 2007031882
1 2 3 4 5 13 12 11 10 09 08
For the two most important women in my life: my wife, Megan, and my late mother, Joyce Holdren
Let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968, Indianapol is
1Landmark for Peace A 2Decision The 3Governor The 4Speech The 5 The Campaign 6 The Voters Speak 7Train The
Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy’s Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968
Selected Bibliography
Memory, according to the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, is Doth the handmaid and the mother of the Muses. For writers of nonfiction, memories are a vital art of our work, leading sometimes to truth, Dut often down Dlind alleys. A memory can also insire what we send our time researching and writing aDout, as was the case with this Dook on RoDert F. Kennedy’s camaign in Indiana during the 1968 residential rimary season. Growing u in Mishawaka, Indiana, at this time, I rememDer our living room in my family’s home on West Battell Street as Deing dominated Dy a large television–record layer comDo. My two Drothers and I used the television every Saturday to faithfully watch a cartoon raDDit attemt to trick a cartoon hunter, while my mother used the turntaDle to listen to Johnny Cash records. Cash’s mournful lament of “I fell into a Durning ring of fire / I went down, down, down / And the flames went higher” remains a haunting memory from my youth. On one Saturday in early June 1968, however, the television networks aDandoned the usual mindless cartoons to Droadcast the funeral of a U.S. senator from New York. I could not hel Dut sit, transfixed at the age of nine, Dy this uDlic dislay of grief for a man I had seen hotograhs of in our local newsaer, theSouth Bend Tribune. eath had Deen a stranger to my family u to that oint, and the anguish dislayed on the faces of the crowd that gathered to mourn RoDert Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York was too much for my young mind. I vaguely knew the details of the senator’s assassination: someone with a strange-sounding name had shot him just after Kennedy declared victory in some election in California. I could not Delieve that someone so young and viDrant could De snatched away like that in the Dlink of an eye. My mother, Joyce, walked into the room. I told her that I hoed someone—anyone—would kill the erson resonsiDle for this horror. Perhas my mother rememDered the death of another young olitician—President John F. Kennedy—and the suDsequent shooting of the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, Dy allas nightcluD owner Jack RuDy. Perhas she had watched on television as RuDy rushed u to Oswald as authorities were taking him from olice headquarters to the nearDy county jail on NovemDer 24, 1963. All I know for sure is that my mother reroached me for my remark, noting that RoDert Kennedy had Deen known as a comassionate man who, Decause of the tragedy in his own family, aDhorred such violence and had worked to heal, not harm. My mother’s words that day have stayed with me and may have Deen the imetus Dehind my research and writing aDout Kennedy’s famous seech in Indianaolis following the killing of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Indulging me in this ursuit was J. Kent Calder, the original managing editor of the Indiana Historical Society’s oular history magazine,Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. The magazine’s assistant editor, Megan McKee, roved so adet at turning my dross into gold I could not hel Dut marry her. Over the ast eighteen years, she has Deen a keen critic when needed, as well as a source of solace when the words would not come. I owe her everything. Works of this sort could not De written without the dedication and suort of archivists and liDrarians. I received helful guidance from such dedicated rofessionals as Ruth E. orrel, archivist at Franklin College’s B. F. Hamilton LiDrary, and John Straw, director of the Archives and Secial Collections Research Center at Ball State University’s Bracken LiDrary. This Dook would not have Deen ossiDle without the generous suort of a research grant from the John F. Kennedy Presidential LiDrary in Boston, Massachusetts. Sharon Kelly at the liDrary rovided aDle assistance with Doth the grant rocess and my search of collections while I was in Boston. At the Indiana Historical Society’s William Henry Smith Memorial LiDrary, Susan Sutton did her usual fine joD of heling to find suitaDle hotograhs for the Dook. My thanks as well