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tv   Robert F. Kennedy 1968 Presidential Announcement Anniversary  CSPAN  July 6, 2018 10:48pm-12:47am EDT

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robert f kennedy announced he was running for president march 16 1968. several members of congress marked the 50th anniversary of the announcement. we will hear from the house minority leader, nancy pelosi a, marco rubio, john lewis and joe kennedy. as well as his daughter, kerry kennedy. >> ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you here this evening. joe kennedy is right now delayed voting on the floor of the house of representatives. i have been instructed to begin. i have always felt myself to be a subsidiary. his impeccable god -- judgment
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that i'm going to follow right now and i want to thank carrie, to thank tim shriver, to think riley kennedy, to think at the link kennedy townsend, kerry kennedy townsend, thank them for coming this evening and to all of you for participating in this historic moment. i have said many times in my career that i was inspired by the kennedy brothers to be interested in politics. this evening on the 50th anniversary of robert f kennedy announcing 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
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anyone in this room who was alive at that time. they inspired a generation of americans. they helped to lift are gauged to the constellation of possibilities for ourselves and for the world. that inspiration continues to live on even today. that dawning of a bright better future lifted up the spirit of an entire nation and gave us hope, it gave us reassurance and it gave one boy a dream. it turns out the same thing happened not just for irish boys in massachusetts but every nationality in our country and the planet. it helps 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
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nation has ever known as a senator, attorney general and presidential. he was a true liberal because i'm -- before liberal became a bad word and one of the greatest for quality and freedom. it has been a half of the connection. in that time, we have idealism. we have missed this tenacity. this time that has passed illuminates how much of a trailblazer that he was. i have no doubts that he would've looked out at the national mall today with the thousands of young people exercising their right to protest for a safer school and he would have marched with them. he would have spoken to them.
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he would have spoken to them about his support of a gun control and his belief that for too long we did -- dealt with these harmless weapons as if they were tours. he would have told them to embrace including everyone. old and young. that is what we saw on the mall today. he would have told him to cut through the current political jungle and to find the justice and safety for their communities. it is bobby kennedy's words that echo in the movement of young people across the country demanding each time a man stands up for an ideal or
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improves. he sends forth a title -- tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from 1 million different centers. the ripples great the current that can sweep across the mightiest walls of oppression. bobby kennedy was the heart of the person and not his or her station that should be judged. everyone should have the opportunity to maximize the ability to create a better life. robert f kennedy's legacy continues to resonate in urgency in the 21st century his legacy continues to resonate because it is the central theme that so many people continue to keep in the hearts. when the trump administration calls for closing the department of the civil rights decision we
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remember that bobby kennedy expanded it by 60 %. when people take to the streets, we remember bobby kennedy's efforts to ensure in 10 minutes of the first african-american student to the university of mississippi. a state lawmaker across the country introduce hundreds of measures making it harder to vote. bobby kennedy recognized the fight for racial justice and he worked to create the civil rights act. we see his legacy in the work and accomplishments of his family. tim shriver, riley kennedy, kathleen kennedy townsend, kerry kennedy tansey -- townsend and all of the kennedys that embody all of
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this. gabriella as well. they are representing this incredible tradition that continues through today. senator bob casey from the state of pennsylvania is here as well. continuing the tradition. cup cup.>> on this 50th anniversary of robert kennedy's announcement to lead the country we must recommit ourselves to the causes and crusades that he champions and continues today. bobby kennedy was the greatest president of the united states that should have been. because he never forgot who faced the greatest challenges. that is is legacy and one we are called on every day to live up to to guide not just my work but all of our work. every day here in the senate.
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let every person in our country. i know everyone in this room shares that feeling. i think you all for being here today to honor his legacy for this family and those who continue to find in -- inspiration in his life. robert kennedy's works will continue to start new generations and served to fight for a better future for everyone in this great nation. with us tonight, several people are going to speak to that legacy and what i would like to do is begin with kennedy historian and host of and as -- hardball
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there were some other things. they may not seem important other people but it meant a lot to me.
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>> when i get back to the peace corps in 1951 -- i got it from wayne owens who was a young mormon. to senator frank moss, the last liberal senator from utah probably for a while. we are getting mitt romney coming soon. bobby kennedy -- he was a young true believer for bobby kennedy. he later became the aa for senator kennedy -- senator ted kennedy when he was the majority whip. he was at true believer in the kennedys. he gave me my first job. it was not exactly what i wanted but it was a good job for a while.
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i would work in the office for the day, starting at 3:00 every day. i was doing two jobs. i could almost right a book about how much i learned as a cop here. i learned a lot. i learned a lot about the guys who live out in the country. they have a point of view. one of them said, you know why that little man loves his country, it's because -- one thing i learned about the capital police was there was one democrat, one senator, who always made a point of saying hello and actually greeting all the capital police when he went by in the morning. he made a real effort to say hello to them as equals and important people to him. that told me so much about him. he was well known are looking out for those in the country who had gotten bad treatment from police. he would have been very sympathetic to the black lives movement. he would've been part
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of it. he also believed in good law enforcement. that is why the justice department building is named the robert f kennedy building, because he believed in good law enforcement. saying hello to the cops told me that he was neither a snob or a phony. he fought for the poor and the overlooked. he also looked out for all the working people in the country. he looked out for cops, waitresses, and construction workers as his people. that is a message for democrats today. those people came out and with dilute his funeral train when it went by along the railroad tracks of new jersey and pennsylvania. we will always remember the people in baltimore, 20,000 of them, dinging battle hymn of the republic. because when you go to black churches, you
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actually learn the lyrics and you can actually sing the whole song. i learned that. also, not just the lards -- large crowds of people in the big cities, but little families along the way. all background quietly saluting their fellow patriot. thank you so much. [ clapping ] >> thank you chris. that was great. next we are going to hear from the grandson of robert f kennedy, who serves phenomenally every day in the house of representatives where jack kennedy began in 1947.
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didn't he do a phenomenal job in being that responder to donald trump's state of the union address. i give you the great joe kennedy. >> thank you for those extraordinary kind words. thank you for your friendship to the multiple generations of my family. and for your friendship that goes back longer than i have been alive. we are so grateful for your service to our country and for
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always being there for us as a friend. always. thank you so so much. this is a dangerous thing to do so i will do it briefly. i recognize that all my other family members have been recognized. thank you for having me. to my fellow members of the house that are here, peter welch, charlie crist, steve:, -- steve come in -- cohen. thank you for coming. thank you for making the time.
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i am cognizant not only of why we are here today, but as chris said, -- i know as you realize in public life, you mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. to your right and left here, you have politicians, public service, journalists, activists, volunteers, and you have regular old everyday people that were inspired by his legacy. you have folks like the guy i just shook hands with on the capital steps with a kind word about who my grandfather was and what he still means. from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for coming in
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today and joining in this celebration of his life and legacy. 50 years ago today, a young senator stood in this room and announced a decision to run for the presidency. in the freight -- three months that followed, he did what not many others in public life had the courage to do. he confronted the questions that our society far too often pushes to the side. we know they are there but for whatever reason, we do not always have the courage to confront. two days after he made his announcement, he was at the university of kansas. he spoke about the priorities of our nation and what matters to our country. he pointed out that the metric that we use illustrates and
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measures our air pollution and cigarette advertising. the locks on doors and gels for those who break them, and nuclear warheads. he said the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of education, the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, or the integrity of our public officials. it measures neither our wit or courage, our wisdom nor learning. --, neither arden compassion or devotion to our country. it measures everything except that which makes life
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worthwhile. it can tell you everything about america except why we are proud to be americans. not a week goes by for me these days were 70 does not tension to me -- where somebody does not mention to me the impact that my grandfather had on their life. i believe he had the courage to see the dignity of every child, and the frailty of every adult, the yearning of every person to try to make the nation a little better for our own children. in so doing, he was able to weave a thread that connected disparate groups that still
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call the station home and that we all call america. he inspired them to dream things that we could in fact achieve if we had our minds to it and our shoulders to it. it is why so many people perched -- approached so many of the elected officials here today for that same leadership and inspiration. that is why i am so honored to be gathered with all of you as we share in that legacy and we fight to make those values hold true in our country today. thank you for being here. thank you for having me. [ clapping ] two other quick things, john delaney from maryland, thank
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you for coming as well. also, it is now a distinct joy and honor for me to be able to introduce a friend and mentor, must you just senior senator, my law professor, and somebody i think is not just an incredible individual, who introduced me to my wife, senator elizabeth warren. >> thank you. it is a great honor to be here with all of you today. so many elected officials, family and friends. chris matthews wrote a great book. thank you. i am glad to be here.
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a lot of people think about robert kennedy, they read what he wrote, they listen to his speeches, 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 truth. history may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. in 1968, there was a lot of anxiety in this country. a lot of experts back then wanted to hide behind statistics and a lot of politicians wanted to hide behind statistics about what was going on. but robert kennedy made the point that the economy is felt on the ground. it is a singular moment for me to stand here, having just been introduced by someone i respect
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and enormously. someone i watched literally from his first moment in law school, i knew he had a bright future. today we both picked exactly the same quote to focus on. which says something about the core of what robert kennedy said to all of us. i will pick up from where joe left it. he talked about his speech at the university of kansas. he talked about what it is that makes life worth living. we live in a moment right now in america, where people talk over and over about the rising
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economy, record profit, bank profit have never been so high, unemployment is lower than it has been in a very long time in america. those are all terrific statistics, but the reality is for the majority of americans who do not own a single share of stock, a rising stock market does not help them. for the millions of americans who work for corporations that are making record profit but do not raise their wages, the corporate profit does not mean as much to them. to talk about unemployment in america, people who are working two jobs and three job, and it means you still can't hold it
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together to be able to make it to the end of the month and have a little money left over, and build a little economic security. all of those statistics become a way to hold you off from the world you live on the ground. i think of this as the echo of 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 or a country that looks better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. that is not america. 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 is an honor to be here with
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all of you today. it is an honor to have the chance to recall the memory of robert kennedy and talk about his life and ideas. thank you all for being here. thank you. [ clapping ] >> thank you senator. i want to recognize brendan boyle, thank you for coming. senator casey was here but he had to run off the floor to go vote. we will be hearing from a couple of other of my colleagues , barbara lee and john lewis who are here. thank you all for coming.
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before i get to the next speaker , he was kind enough to be the cohost for this event this evening. we had a couple 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 him to cohost this event, he said yes without even a moment's hesitation, for which i am truly grateful. he happens to have a democratic opponent this cycle named bobby kennedy. no relation i assure you. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a warm welcome for congressman bobby burns.
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>> it is an incredible honor for me to be here today. 50 years ago i was a teenager. like hundreds of thousands, if not millions of teenagers across america, when senator kennedy stood in this room and announced for president, it was electrifying. he touched so many people before he announced. but after he announced, you have seen the pictures, he was touching everyone. a couple of weeks ago we had the annual pilgrimage to birmingham, montgomery. we had robert door with us, john doerr's son, who reminded me that john door was a republican. we heard the stories of what senator kennedy and john door dead in alabama in the 60s. i said then and i will say it
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again, that changed alabama forever, so much so that the congress person from there is an acro -- africa -- african american woman named terry sewall. senator kennedy spoke to us teenagers because our parents identified with president kennedy. even though senator kennedy was not that much younger than president kennedy, we identified with him. he spoke in a different way, directly and genuinely and sincerely to us, across every line you can imagine. and we said, we like that guy. that is someone who can inspire us for a long time. and he did inspire me. i got to go with carrie in the family to south africa to celebrate the ripples of hope speech, about two years ago. what a great honor to be there for that.
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even though i slipped away to the other party, that does not mean that i don't carry in my heart the things that senator kennedy said and meant for so many of us. the speech i remember that most is the one on the tragic night that martin luther king was killed. this one particular part of that i think 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 is not violence or lawlessness, but love and compassion toward one another, and the feeling of justice toward those who still suffer with in our country whether they be white or black. that is the message from 50 years ago in a moment of great tragedy and it is a message we should carry in our hearts today and for days and days to come. thank you to the kennedy family and the legacy of a great man, senator robert f kennedy.
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>> 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 right icon. the great congressman john lewis . -- >> thank you very much. i am delighted, very happy,
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honored, and pleased to be here tonight. 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. i was 21 years old, had all of my hair, and was a few pounds lighter. black people and white people could not be seated together on a greyhound bus. leaving washington dc to travel to the south, seated together, using the same restroom facilities, eating at the same lunch counter. but i tell you it was bobby kennedy who was so
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sympathetic to what we were doing. to bring down those signs that said white waiting, colored waiting. white men, colored man. more than anything else, he was a sympathetic referee. when an angry mob grew outside the first baptist church in montgomery, robert kennedy sent the united states marshal to hold them back. keith probably -- he probably saved our lives. after i was arrested and taken to the penitentiary in mississippi, robert kennedy petitioned the state commission
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and one desegregation for american best ways and train ways. those lines came tumbling down. the only places we would see those signs today would be in a book, a museum, or on a video. i first got to know robert kennedy personally during the spring and summer of 1963. it was during that time that he showed the capacity to understand that he understood and he empathized. i will never forget one day when he pulled me aside and said, john, you and the young people are the
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student nonviolent coordinating committee and have educated me. you have changed me. i understand. i should probably also mention that during my days, i was the one usually asked to do the robert kennedy impression. i will not try to do it tonight. but i honestly believe that had it 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 find a way to get in the way of 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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i immediately sent a telegram to the campaign office suggesting i would do anything 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. i flew from atlanta to indianapolis, where i worked to prepare for the upcoming indiana primary. on april 4, 1968, i was organizing a meaning for the campaign -- meeting for the campaign. someone informed me that dr. king had been shot. we did not know his condition. there was some discussion about whether or not robert kennedy should come to this meeting.
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i took the position that he should come and he should speak to the audience. i will never ever forget that speech that night. it is the one 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 states is not violence or lawlessness, in love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling for justice for those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black. i believe it is one of the greatest speeches of all time. robert kennedy had the ability
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and capacity to give oh -- hope and to inspire people and lift people up, and move america forward. it was robert kennedy who stood tall. he never gave up and he never gave in. when robert kennedy and martin luther king jr. were assassinated, something died in all of this. 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 the great, unbelievable, wise , and gifted leader. i wish she was with us today.
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thank you. -- i wish he was with us today. thank you. >> we have a very powerful lineup of speakers this evening. next, channeling the great leadership robert f kennedy provided for our country, our next speaker said she is a renegade for speak -- peace and justice. i give you the great congresswoman from the city of
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oakland -- >> thank you very much. let me first say to the entire kennedy family, 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 place to honor bobby's life and 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 he had announced his campaign for president. the moment was a defining moment for me, like many americans. but personally, as john lewis just said, his campaign for me represented hope. finally i thought, someone who opposed the vietnam war had a
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shot at winning the white house. but the vietnam war was not all that was on my mind that day. in 1968, america was utterly 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 raging 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 and the hope of unifying our nation. in many ways, bobby kennedy's campaign was a signal that the fruit of dr. king's labor was beginning to be revealed. sadly just 19 days after robert kennedy announced his campaign for president, dr. king was
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assassinated on april 4, 1968. that was also a day that changed my life forever. like many of you, i was shocked, saddened, and angry. 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 dreamer, he could not kill the dream. the night that dr. king was assassinated, robert kennedy addressed the nation on the campaign trail. this quote has been presented tonight but i think it rings louder than ever tonight. so i would like to reiterate what was said that night. he said, 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
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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. i also believed deeply that he would fight to make it come true. he understood that racism was tearing our nation apart and he was determined to unify this country. it was through a coalition that includes people of color, young people, women, everyday americans. over the course of his 82 day campaign, robert kennedy was determined to fight for what was right. for 82 days he spoke out against the vietnam war, he conquered justice in every speech he came on crime, he challenged young americans to reach their highest potential. he spoke out against poverty. he stood up for civil rights.
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he fought the fight for 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 american history. i will always remember that heart wrenching moment when my aunt called 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. i am convinced of that. the courage and conviction with which bobby kennedy approached public service has inspired me and countless others to speak out and fight for what is just and right.
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so today, as we remember and commemorate his campaign, and the values that he represented, we remember once again his last words. few will have the greatness to bend history it self, 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. [ clapping ] >> barbara, thank you very much for the extraordinary kind words. i also want to recognize one of the senior members of the house democratic caucus, sandy levitt is here. thank you very much. for your friendship, and for your dedication to our country.
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it is an honor to be with you. inc. you for making the time for us. it is an honor for me to introduce a member of the democratic house leadership in mr. hoyer. sometimes i wonder when i first met sonny, and i have no idea. as long as i know, he has been around our dinner table just like an uncle. he has been there for my family as a friend year after year. he makes the time every year to come up and support rfk human rights, the organization founded after my grandfather's passing. he has been a friend and mentor to me, for which i am extraordinarily grateful. but i also have to recognize
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that there are countless other members of congress, democrat and republican, who can say the exact same thing about sunny. -- he still views his profession as an honorable when -- one. he has dedicated his life to making sure that the policies crafted in these rooms reflect the challenges, anxieties, and optimism of every single american. and he has done it with extraordinary grace, dedication, tenacity, and a pretty good dose of humor too. thank you for your time. [ clapping ] >> i am glad i came to hear that introduction. he stood there. his name was
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john. he was bobby's brother. he made an extraordinary difference in my life. he came to the university of maryland when i was a sophomore. i had made a 1.7 and a 1.0 in my freshman year. i didn't really have my act together. in the summer of 1959, john kennedy drove up to the fieldhouse where he was going to address the students for a convict -- convocation, and he talked about young people getting involved in politics. he said they could make a difference. i made a 3.8 that semester. seven years later i was elected to the state senate having graduated from georgetown law school. when john kennedy was
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shot on november 22, 1963, i and the nation sobbed. not cried, sobbed, for four days. my life has been entwined ever sent with -- ever sent -- since with the kennedy family. i worked very hard to make kathleen the governor of our state, and she would have been a wonderful governor. in a few short days i am going
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to be honored to travel to florida to celebrate the 90th birthday of bobby's wife, ethel. i was a generation that was so inspired by john kennedy. 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 this past monday. i finished the last 125 pages of chris's book. not for the purpose of being here. but i got to know bobby better. i
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think barbara lee is right, had fate allowed him to survive, he would have been the president of the united states. what i got from chris's book was a little more of the depth of robert kennedy. a little more of the humanity of robert kennedy, of the idealism of robert kennedy, of the deep and abiding intellectual integrity that he had and displayed every day of his life. that is why we honor him. we are feeling sorry for ourselves that we did not have him as our president. he would have made such a difference.
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because he brought such moral commitment to that job. like all of us, he grew. we all grow and we all become more knowledgeable and more sensitive. he did that. that is the mark of a wise human being. in chris's book, i felt more of the love and the depth of caring for average working people facing challenges every day. for the phone workers in california. carry, he would be so proud of you for keeping that torch high and alive.
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it is an extraordinary family, composed of extraordinary individuals who have made our country better. john kennedy said it, he said this is a great country but it can be greater. robert kennedy stood for the proposition that this is a good country, but it can be better. it can be more, empathetic, sympathetic, caring, and lifting up. i have probably already spoken too long, but i was watching television that night in june, as i'm sure so many of you were also. 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 ideological or enlarged in death beyond that which he was in life. a good and decent man who saw a wrong and tried to write it. he saw suffering and tried to heal it. he saw war and tried to stop it. we were blessed by robert kennedy's life and legacy. thank you. our -- [ clapping ]
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>> in the united states senate, i get to serve with many people . but there is one irishman who channels the passion, the pragmatism, and the humor of robert f kennedy. i give you the great senator from the state of pennsylvania, robert casey. [ clapping ]. >> thank you very much. i wanted to first of all thank everyone for this opportunity. -- to be able to celebrate the life and achievements of robert f kennedy. i never had the opportunity to meet him but i know him through his family. i guess in some way i walk some of the same footsteps as a member of the
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senate, but more particularly i happen to just by chance be in the office were his brother served in the 1950s. the other connection i have is my father introduced him in our hometown of scranton at a st. patrick's day dinner in 1964. he was a toastmaster and gave him a rousing introduction. and then attorney general kennedy gave a great speech, not long after his brother's assassination. i am thinking tonight of him and his brothers, how could we use him today? in all the fights we have had, especially in the past year,
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how could he help in the fighting against custom medicaid . would not be great to have him with us in that? but in so many ways, he is still with us by way of his family, which is the best evidence that he has still with us. also by way of legacy, so many achievements. and also by way of inspiration. so many people in this country, democrat and republican, are still inspired by his work and by his service. it is about life itself, not the years in your life that count, it is the life in those years, by abraham lincoln. what an example he was of that. finally, let me say this. there are a lot of words to describe him, others could come up with words better than i can, but one word that tells us a lot about who he was and what he still means to us, and that
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word is justice. it has been said, without justice, what are kingdom but great bands of robbers. he understood that. he lived a life committed to justice. by being here today, you are helping us celebrate his life, his commitment to justice, and his legacy. god bless you and thank you. our -- [ clapping ] >> 1968 was one of the most memorable years in the history of the united states, just two months before robert kennedy was an -- assassinated, so too was martin luther king in memphis. he was there leading a sanitation workers strike. he was representing -- here representing the city of
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memphis is there great congressman. >> thank you to all the attendees here, my colleagues, and 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 happy elizabeth warren spoken i thought, oh my god, i'm going to have to follow john lewis. it is just great to be here. i am -- i remember the moments when john kennedy spoke and was in -- assassinated, and when robert kennedy was assassinated, and the tears that i had and that i still have it when i see films of those event even to this day. i still tear up when i see them. i was going to quote ted
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kennedy and what he said about robert kennedy at the funeral, seeing a wrong and trying to make it right, and it parallels merits -- militarism, materialism, and racism. robert kennedy and martin luther king shared the same philosophy. they wanted to see our country to be so much better. it wasn't -- justice was something you saw in your heart, not just what you read in a law book. you develop it as you think it should be, not as people say it is. he saw a better world and he tried to make it that way. if robert kennedy was elected the 37th president, he would have had a strategy that would have been different than what nixon gave us which has polluted our politics and country to this day.
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we would have had a strategy that concentrated on removing the legacy of jim crow, and slavery in the south. it would have been giving people the opportunity of a decent life. such of major difference. it is just so sad. i am honored to serve in the house were john kennedy served, and in the same basic branch that robert kennedy did. i am from the south from memphis . i did know the commander and i knew john. robert kennedy gave much to our country, and his family has given much. when you think about robert kennedy, the dream is still alive. in memphis when we reflect on mlk 50 and we think about what
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dr. king wanted to see, it is the same thing robert kennedy wanted to see. 50 years later, what we see with the ripples of hope that robert kennedy talked about in south africa are still out there. each and every one of us has to be tiny ripples of hope to wipe down those walls of oppression. whether they exist in racism, militarism, or at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, we have to white them out -- wipe them out. every voice and ripple counts. keep your ripples coming. remember robert f kennedy and martin luther king jr. [ clapping ] >> thank you. a couple of other colleagues that came in, paul tomko's,
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thank you for coming. it is now time to recognize another one of my colleagues from the house , an absolute champion for social justice who stands up and speaks out and makes sure that her voice is heard. the house of representatives will always have a voice in sheila jackson. please help me in welcoming her. >> i know you did not see any wrestling over there but i think every member of the house would wrestle to get a moment to say something about this great spirit. thank you joe, carrie, kathleen, kathleen's daughter,
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and the little one who is being held in your arms. thank you to the kennedy family. thank you for being most of all, the inspiration that so many of us remain starry eyed and have guided us in the question and quest of public service. i think it is an honor to talk about those 82 days, which all of us would have been ready to be at an inauguration for robert f kennedy. many of us saw him as the bright and shining light. many of you know that we as african-american, people of color, native american, we're just about coming into our own. i remember rushing to work for the southern christian leadership conference. i did so after the assassination of dr. king, and after the
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assassination of bobby kennedy. many of us with black and white televisions saw this horror and could not believe what we were seeing. we knew rfk because he went to appellation -- appellation -- we knew him as a brother, a sinner, and a champion of civil rights. we knew him ultimately as a martyr. to me i knew him as the door opener. i had dignity also. there was nothing shameful about my color or status. i could walk in dignity in this nation. he told me i could. he told so many young people, no matter their background. he told us we could serve. he said to us, john is gone, but i am here.
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he gave us hope. i know him and i know that you know him most of all is a freedom fighter, a champion for civil rights and justice. he could fight with his heart. i always felt protected because he was there. i am reminded of the song, someone tell me where my old friend bobby is, someone tell me where my old friend martin is -- how interesting that we americans felt that they were brothers together. as i reflect back, i know that bobby kennedy was not just merely a man of the times, but he had a spirit that transcended all of this. may be in the backdrop of the toxicity of our times, i can still wrap myself in the hope of the family that has sacrificed for decades. thank you to the kennedys,
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certainly bobby and john and my colleague joe. it is very special to have had the opportunity to serve with men and women who understand the quality, dignity, fairness, humanity and empathy. i had the privilege of meeting the grandson of cesar chavez. i am reminded of the pictures of robert meeting him. there seemed to be no group in america that he left untouched. i hope that we will capture decency and respect and embrace them all. i hope is you are in this room you will find a sense of what is right. each person should walk out of here eight feet tall and we should be able to spread our wings for justice and equality, and to refute and rebut all those negatives that others are
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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 love and compassion -- this is my real message. 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 wing and let him lift you. always ask the question when you find things that are not, why not. that is robert francis kennedy. [ clapping ]
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>> when i first got here i took advice from my senior colleagues .
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they were like that to the point that ethel kennedy described the fact -- there is a clichi that people are so close they can finish one another's sentences. they were so close they could just pick up one another's expressions and that is why the closest thing -- there is another clichi that people talked about. before people elected and they are on the ticket together they
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say this will be the closest working relationship we have ever had between a president and a vice president. no president in their right mind ever gives up power to a vice president or anyone else is a copresident. the closest thing america has ever had to a co-presidency was on bobby kennedy was jack kennedys internally -- attorney general. he was is cia director he consulted bobby kennedy more often than the secretary of state on foreign affairs. he was the guy that jack kennedy knew he could go to whether it was the bay of pigs or civil rights were the cuban missile crisis. he could go and bobby would have his back pick he would look out for what was best for the country and what was best political leave for jack kennedy. that was an extraordinary relationship. he knew if he was seen at the funeral, he had to be there because he was loyal but he
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knew if that was published it would hurt jack. trying to have it both ways but he was always trying to help his brother and he did. >> he also wanted to be loyal.>> he did. there was a magical moment and i am not sure when it happened. 1957 where bobby understood when jack was alive that he had a political career himself and they joked that after he done it for eight years, you know joe kennedy had aspirations to be the president and during world war ii at the start of world war ii when he was the u.s. ambassador to great britain he not only had the opportunity and that eventually became public and never denied it. the boston globe helped


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