, Festivals + Parties

Annual King/Kennedy Commemoration

When: Wed., April 4, 5 p.m. 2012

From the press release:

This year’s annual Dr. King/Sen. Kennedy commemoration on April 4th will include recognition awards to six female Hoosiers for their professional accomplishments and positive influence in local, state and federal government, the judiciary and sports including: Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman; Maggie Lewis, President, Indianapolis City-County Council; Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, City of Gary; Judge Marilyn Moores, Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Court presiding judge; Justice Tanya Walton Pratt, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; and Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever, WNBA.

Various speakers, including Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, will commemorate the 44rd anniversary of Sen. Robert Kennedy’s impromptu, historic speech in Indianapolis on the evening that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. The annual King/Kennedy program will take place on Wednesday, April 4th at 5:00 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1702 N. Broadway Street. There will be speakers, presentations and musical performances honoring both men who dedicated their lives to peace and civil rights for all Americans.

A special Trail Blazer Award will be also be given out to a special honoree in recognition of their decades of public and community service to the State of Indiana. Two character actors from the Indiana Historical Society’s “You are There - 1968: Robert F. Kennedy Speaks” exhibit will also participate, representing actual audience members who learned of Dr. King’s death through the announcement by Sen. Kennedy. An audio/visual presentation of his historic, four minute and fifty-seven second speech will take place at 6:01 p.m. Portions of the speech are included in a granite wall memorial at Sen. Kennedy’s grave site in Arlington National Cemetery.

Historical Background on Sen. Kennedy’s 1968 Speech

Forty-four years ago on April 4, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was tragically assassinated in Memphis. By fate or coincidence, on that very night, Indianapolis became forever linked to two visionary leaders - Dr. King and presidential hopeful, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who would also be assassinated a short two months later.

While major cities across the United State rioted, Indianapolis mourned, prayed and remained peaceful, which many attribute to the presence of Robert Kennedy. He was on the Indiana campaign trail in hopes of garnering the state’s support for a presidential bid when he learned of Dr. King’s death.

Despite warnings about his own personal safety and the fear of possible violence in the wake of the assassination, Sen. Kennedy stood firm that he would still speak to supporters who were gathered for a scheduled campaign rally at 17th and Broadway. It was Robert Kennedy who shared the news of Dr. King’s death to a confused Indianapolis audience in what would become a critical moment in U.S. history.

In the ensuing days, it was reported that riots took place in 76 cities throughout the country, resulting in 46 people killed, 2000 injured and 28,000 jailed. Many historians and community leaders credit Kennedy’s six-minute, unrehearsed speech of peace and non-violence as a major factor in Indianapolis avoiding the chaos and violence that took place across the nation. Many call it the greatest extemporaneous speech ever made and portions of the speech are included on a graveside memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, community leaders and citizens will gather as they do each year at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, near the Landmark for Peace sculpture dedicated to King and Kennedy in 1994 to commemorate this fateful day and honor both men. It is the hope of the dozens of volunteers that plan this annual event - ranging from grassroots organizations to community centers to those in government and the private sector - that this day serve as a reminder to all that political divisiveness and violence are not the way to resolve the many challenges that face our community and nation.

Price: Free

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