Robert Kennedy’s Final Farewell to MLK

Fifty years ago tonight, moments before he boarded a plane in Muncie, Ind., Robert Kennedy learned that the Dr. Martin Luther King had just been shot in Memphis. He somehow knew in his heart that Dr. King would not survive. Kennedy was heading to Indianapolis where he was scheduled to give a speech that night, and on landing, he learned that Dr. King had died.  Kennedy’s aides advised him to cancel his speech, for they knew tensions would be at an all-time high, but Kennedy refused.

Although Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had an often contentious relationship, disagreeing on a number of issues, Robert Kennedy stepped up to the plate that night.  Rather than his prepared speech, Kennedy gave an impromptu eulogy for Dr. King that became to be considered his most memorable speech.  When he arrived, it was raining, the crowd, predominantly black, was tense and angry.  But Kennedy reached out anyway, and by the end of his speech, one of the gang members who was present said, “They kill Martin Luther, and we was ready to move. After he spoke we couldn’t get nowhere.”

Andrew Young later remembered, “He was in the middle of a totally black community, and he stood there without fear and with great confidence and empathy, and he literally poured his soul out talking about his brother.  The amazing thing to us was that the crowd listened. He reached them.”

Kennedy spoke that night for only around six minutes. But unlike so many other American cities, Indianapolis didn’t burn that night or over the next few days, as did Washington, Chicago, Baltimore and scores of other American cities.

Robert F. Kennedy’s Speech on the night of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Death:

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

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 a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us 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.

We Still Need Affirmative Action …

“You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair . . . This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson, speaking to the graduating class at Harvard University, 04 June 1965

Affirmative Action: an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education.

A brief (I promise) bit of history:

On March 6, 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” The intent of this executive order was to affirm the government’s commitment to equal opportunity for all qualified persons, and to take positive action to strengthen efforts to realize true equal opportunity for all. This executive order was superseded by Executive Order 11246 in 1965.

On September 24, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin by those organizations receiving federal contracts and subcontracts. In 1967, President Johnson amended the order to include sex on the list of attributes. Executive Order 11246 also requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to promote the full realization of equal opportunity for women and minorities.

African-Americans, at the time of Order #11246, had been legally freed from slavery for a short 100 years, but they had still not been free in so many ways.  Segregation and Jim Crow laws kept them slaves to the white man for nearly another century, at least in some parts of the country.  And now, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were doing something about it.  Many will say the government should not regulate such things, and I would agree, with a caveat:  the government should not need to regulate such things.  But when we are unwilling to treat all people equally, when we discriminate on the basis of skin colour (or religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or cultural values), then yes, it is right and just for the government to legislate equal opportunity for all.  And thus we have what came to be known as Affirmative Action.

Which brings us to August 2017, when the Justice Department is planning to take funds that are intended to investigate cases of ‘race-based discrimination’ and redirect those funds to investigate and sue colleges that have followed the law of Affirmative Action in admissions determinations.  The project was quickly understood to be targeting affirmative action policies that many on the right see as “discriminating” against white applicants — in particular, ones that might give black and Latino students an edge.

If discrimination against whites actually existed on any significant scale, one might make that argument, but the reality is that wealth, not race, is most often the factor that influences admissions decisions.  Discrimination, overall, remains in this, the 21st century, against blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, and women.

If we, as a society, do not wish to live under laws that give preferential treatment to one group or another, then the solution is simple:  treat everyone … EVERYONE … as equals.  STOP condoning the killing of blacks by police officers for no reason other than they were black.  STOP perpetuating the myth that blacks are more likely to be criminals.  And STOP believing that people whose skin is darker than yours, are somehow inferior.

Most laws need to be revisited, reassessed and tweeked from time to time, and Affirmative Action is no exception.  Certainly there have been abuses of the law. No doubt there are improvements that can be made, but I certainly do NOT trust the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions to do so.  The bottom line is that if we do not wish laws that enforce equality in hiring, in college admissions, in houring preference, then We The People need to get off our high horses and realize that people are people, no matter the colour of their skin, what church – if any – they attend, what country they or their ancestors come from, or whatever other characteristics they may own.  Until we do that, the government must uphold the laws that enforce equality.  Don’t like the laws?  Then police thyself, friends.

We have seen a recent rise in bigotry of all forms, and white supremacy seems to be gaining a toehold when crimes against blacks, even by police officers, go unpunished.  We have seen states attempt to pass laws limiting opportunities for LGBT people.  The president of the nation has thrown his lot in with white supremacists.  As long as this type of organized and state-sanctioned discrimination exists, we will need laws to protect those being discriminated against.  It’s that simple.

Hillary Clinton – On The Issues (Part V – Racial Justice)


“If we stand with each other now, we can build a future where no one is left out or left behind, and everyone can share in the promise of America—which is big enough for everyone, not to be reserved for a few.” – Hillary Clinton, July 8, 2016

“Fifty years after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and John Lewis bled, it’s hard to believe Americans are still forced to fight for their right to vote—especially in places where the civil rights movement fought so hard all those years ago.” – Hillary, October 17, 2015



“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu


I continue with my look at Hillary Clinton’s stance on the important issues facing our nation and the next president.  Today I am looking, specifically, at item #4, Racial Equality. The full list of 38 items can be found in my first post of this series,  Hillary Clinton – On The Issues (Part I – Labour and Worker’s Rights), Racial Equality.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin and made it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone … by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”

There are many other pieces of legislation enacted to end discrimination and bring about racial equality in America during and since the 1960s, but these are the most prominent.  So, racism no longer exists in America, right?  Wrong. Not only does it still exist, but its ugly head is rising ever higher during this divisive and contentious election year. Government action, laws passed, are all essential to ending discrimination, but at its core, an end to racism must come from the hearts and minds of the nation’s citizenry.  Small slights against people of minority races cannot be legislated away.  That said, government cannot rest on its laurels and leave the issue of racial justice to ‘We The People’, for we shall almost certainly fail to act appropriately, left to our own devices.  Hillary Clinton has put forth her ideas about what government can and should do to help bring equality to all races and an end to racial discrimination.

  • Reform our broken criminal justice system by reforming sentencing laws and policies, ending racial profiling by law enforcement, strengthening the bonds of trust between communities and police, and more. Read more here.
  • Protect the right to vote by fighting to repair the Voting Rights Act and implementing universal, automatic voter registration so that every American will be registered to vote when they turn 18, unless they opt out. Read more here.
  • Protect immigrants’ rights and keep families together by fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, including a full and equal pathway to citizenship and an end to family detention and private immigrant detention centers. Read more here.
  • End the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young African American men—more than the next nine leading causes combined. We must do more to crack down on gun stores that flood our communities with illegal guns and deprive our children of their futures. Read more here.
  • Fight against environmental injustice. Clean air and clean water are basic human rights. But too many children in low-income housing are exposed to lead. African American children are twice as likely to suffer from asthma as white children. Half of our nation’s Latino population lives in areas where the air quality does not meet the EPA’s health standards—and climate change will put vulnerable populations at even greater risk. As president, Hillary will work to reduce air pollution, invest in the removal of toxins like lead, develop greener and more resilient infrastructure, tackle energy poverty, and boost efforts to clean up highly polluted toxic sites.
  • Close the education achievement gap by making sure every child has a world-class education from birth through college. Hillary will double America’s investment in Early Head Start, ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool, drive student achievement in K-12 schools, make college affordable, and relieve the crushing burden of student debt.
  • End violence against the transgender community—particularly women of colorRead more here.
  • Revitalize the economy in communities that have been left out and left behind through a “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda” that includes $125 billion in targeted investments to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity. Read more here.
  • Ensure equal treatment for citizens in Puerto Rico. Hillary is committed to making sure Puerto Ricans have a voice and are treated equally. She believes that Puerto Ricans must be treated equally by Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that benefit families. She will also work with the people of Puerto Rico and with advocates from all sides to answer the fundamental question of their political status.

(Data taken from Hillary Clinton’s campaign website  )

racial-5The results of racial inequality are devastating and divisive for our nation.  Think of recent incidents just this year:  the police shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and others, the protests, the killings of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas.  These are the results, the price we pay for the arrogance of thinking that one race is somehow better than others, somehow more deserving of the fruits of our democracy.  Our nation must have a strong leader who will stand firm to ensure that the existing laws are enforced with equality and to bring government together at the federal, state and local levels to end the divisiveness of racial discrimination.

There was a time when the word ‘racism’ was defined in the U.S. only by ill treatment of African-Americans, but that has changed.  We now have notable numbers of Hispanic people, Asian people, and Middle Eastern people, some citizens, others immigrants.  These people are also deserving of equal treatment, yet are more often than not the victims of discrimination and violence.  There was a time when I believed that once such laws as the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Act were enacted, people would step up to the plate, and within a generation or so, discrimination based on race would become a thing of the past.  I am no longer so naive.

Racial equality must be comprised of two components, and laws are only one of those two.  The other must come from the hearts and minds of the human race.  Until we all learn to embrace and celebrate, rather than fear, the differences of different races, cultures, religions and beliefs, we will remain a nation divided.  However, racial justice can and must be mandated by law, else racial tensions, riots and killings will not only continue, but will become more prevalent and more horrific in nature.

racial-6We should not need to talk about racial equality, for in truth, all races are equal.  It is only in the minds of those who would deny truth that there is a difference.  The next president will not, cannot, change the beliefs of people, cannot change the hearts and minds of people, but she can bring about a change in the way the law is administered. She can seek to hold those who educate accountable for providing a more open forum, a more inclusive environment to help future generations be more open-minded. In this, as in so many other critical areas, Hillary Clinton is the better qualified candidate than her opponent who has fed and fanned the flames of racism with his speech and actions.

An excellent article on the topic of racism in the U.S. can be found here at, of all places, Ben & Jerry’s website!  Some good information, plus you can check out their ice cream flavour’s, an added bonus!