Forty years ago today, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death in Memphis by an assassin’s rifle bullet.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning for president in Indianapolis, Ind., made impromptu remarks to a shocked crowd that have been designated by AmericanRhetoric.com as among the top 100 speeches in U.S. history.
Here, from its Web site, are excerpts. We publish them in the hopes that King’s message of peace, understanding and brotherhood has not faded from the American political landscape:
“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 and lawlessness, but is 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 whether they be black.
“We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past ... and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s 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 that abide in our land.
“And 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 ... say a prayer for our country and for our people.”