Letters to the Editor

The power of leadership in a crisis

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis.

That night riots broke out in over 100 cities. Thirty-five people died and another 2,500 were injured. The city of Indianapolis remained calm that night, and many people believe it was because of a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy that evening while campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Kennedy learned King had been shot while he was boarding a plane to Indianapolis for a campaign rally. When the plane landed Kennedy was told King had died. The rally Kennedy was planning to speak at was in the middle of Indianapolis’s African American community. Kennedy’s Campaign and the city officials feared for Kennedy’s safety. Kennedy decided to go ahead with the campaign stop. He started his speech by informing the crowd of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. The crowd wailed and screamed in disbelief. He shared his pain of losing his brother by assassination by a white man.

Here are his most memorable remarks”: 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 is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer in this country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” These words transcend time.

Dennis Feldmann

Cedar Rapids

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