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56 years have passed since Kennedy’s speech and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.



Indianapolis, Indiana – On April 4, 1968, fifty-six years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King was slain in Memphis. When U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy learned that Dr. King had been shot, he was ready to board a plane for a campaign event in Indianapolis. He found out King was dead as the plane touched down.

Kennedy was encouraged to postpone his campaign rally by Indianapolis police and local leaders as violence broke out in other American towns. He declined.

Kennedy revealed Dr. King’s assassination to a gathering of supporters at 17th and Broadway streets that evening. Then, in an impromptu speech, he said, among other things:

“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 is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

The location of Kennedy’s former speech, near 17th and Broadway, is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

“Kennedy’s words of peace, empathy, and unity resonated profoundly, echoing the urgent need for reconciliation amidst chaos. His call for compassion and understanding amidst racial tensions provided a beacon of hope that is remembered and revered through the annual commemoration,” the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative said in a release.

The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative’s 56th annual April 4 remembrance event, “Still We Reach: Together We Can,” will take place on Thursday.

The famous Landmark for Peace sculpture will be the site of the event, which starts at 5 p.m.
The title of this year’s event, “Still We Reach: Together We Can,” according to the organizers, symbolizes our shared journey towards building a society in which unity wins over division, understanding transcends prejudice, and love triumphs over hate.

“The spirit of April 4, 1968, continues to resonate deeply with all of us,” Gregory Porter, chairman of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative said. “As we gather at the Landmark for Peace, let us remember the courage and compassion of those who stood for justice. Let this event serve as a commemoration and a catalyst for our continued commitment to achieving peace and equality for all.”

Attendees on Thursday will be treated to speeches, performances, and thoughtful discussions about the progress made since 1968 and the remaining distances in the direction of racial justice and equality.

Together, community leaders, historians, artists, and everyday people will pay tribute to Dr. King and Senator Kennedy’s legacy and emphasize their message that unity is the best way for our country to overcome its problems.

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