Robert F. Kennedy on the death of Dr. King
April 4, 2008 7:19 AM   Subscribe

 
thank you so much. i almost forgot about this.
reblogged.
posted by liza at 7:56 AM on April 4, 2008


Thanks for posting this, XQUZYPHYR. They played a clip of this on NPR this morning, and I'm glad to get to hear the whole thing. There were riots all across America in the aftermath of the assassination, but not in Indianapolis, where this speech was given.

Here's this morning's EJ Dionne column on MLK's murder as the death of liberalism.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2008


I think we should ask that question every day, and I've wanted our leaders to answer that question my entire life. What kind of nation are we, and what direction do we want to move in? What are our *goals*? I don't think we have any. :(
posted by mrgrimm at 8:15 AM on April 4, 2008


Wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
Drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
So men against their will
Learn to practice moderation.
Favours come to us from gods.
posted by psmealey at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2008


Goals can basically be boiled down to --
Nation: Who's on American Idol this week, and who can I buy my F350 from?
Leaders: Who will help me and my cronies push this lucrative deal through?
posted by crapmatic at 8:33 AM on April 4, 2008


5 years earlier RFK authorized wiretaps at King's home and office. The relationship between MLK and RFK went through very significant ups and downs.
posted by humanfont at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I thought this was pretty good piece in Time magazine last week on the image of King that has been handed down and taught in schools vs. the reality.
posted by marxchivist at 8:44 AM on April 4, 2008


Thanks for posting this. I thought this was pretty good piece in Time magazine last week on the image of King that has been handed down and taught in schools vs. the reality.

What a typical piece of "fair and balanced" dreck from Time magazine. The writer talks about the blind hatred of King by Americans that directly contributed to King's death. Then he has to balance it with what he perceives as excessive reverence by blacks.
posted by JackFlash at 8:59 AM on April 4, 2008


thanks for this
posted by bitteroldman at 9:02 AM on April 4, 2008


I dunno, Jack. That article was written by Michael Eric Dyson, who is a pretty respected scholar, and pretty fair critic of pretty much everyone, at least in my experience. I think his point about excessive reverence for King is that it trivializes his personal struggle, his historical import, and his personal courage. King was a profoundly complex, sometimes troubled but exceptionally courageous man, and anytime one looks through lens of histoary and turns him into a cardboard cutout, or deity, above criticism or reproach, it diminishes him and his legacy.
posted by psmealey at 9:08 AM on April 4, 2008


Forty years ago last night: "I've Been to the Mountaintop"
We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
In a way Dr. King delivered his own eulogy. Excerpts from his last sermon, The Drum Major Instinct, were played at his funeral. funeral.
And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize--that isn't important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards--that's not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he's traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught, then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:30 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Video of the speech
posted by Rhaomi at 10:14 AM on April 4, 2008


The "Mountain Top" speech always chokes me up. In context, it's one of the saddest and most beautiful bits of oratory ever delivered. RFK's speech is also gut-wrenching, also because of knowing what was to come two months hence.

Other than for the Prague Spring (which was too short-lived), 1968 was just an awful, awful year. It was that point at which hope and progressivism gave way to the dark forces of reactionary politics, coded racism and callousness.

I see glimmers of things starting to change back, but I think it might just be a mirage.
posted by psmealey at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2008


The Kennedy speech is powerful, but WWJD? (What Would James Brown Do?)
posted by marxchivist at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2008


Thanks kirkaracha for posting the "Drum Major Instinct" speech of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. I think that in this insane, anti-spiritual American society we inhabit, it's important to remember that he was a committed Christian minister of the Gospel, as this speech and most others he gave amply demonstrates. His quest for justice, peace and reconciliation came out of that, not from political or social idealism, or some vague sense of humanistic philosophy. Why so many seem to either forget that, or to intentionally downplay it entirely, is a signifigant question.

"But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town."

--from Dr. King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2008


John McCain, in Memphis today... apparently .... trying to explain why he voted against the MLK holiday?
posted by R. Mutt at 1:08 PM on April 4, 2008


I fear for B. O. if he winds up president. Hopefully I am unnecessarily paranoid.
posted by notreally at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2008


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