Libertas Pvublica Heros

Robert F. Kennedy

Discursul lui Robert F. Kennedy care anunta vestea asasinarii lui Martin Luther King, Jr, Indianapolis, 4 aprilie 1968.

Kennedy: Au aflat despre Martin Luther King ? [intreband un organizator al mitingului] Unul dintre ei: Nu. V-am lasat pe dvs. sa hotarati.

Kennedy: Puteti cobori putin pancartele acelea ? [Multimea coboara pancartele cu RFK – presedinte.] Am o veste proasta pentru voi, pentru toti concetatenii vostri si pentru toti cei din lumea aceasta care iubesc pacea, si anume ca Martin Luther King a fost impuscat si ucis in aceasta seara. Martin Luther King si-a dedicat viata dragostei si dreptatii pentru semenii sai, si a murit din aceasta cauza. In aceasta zi grea, cand SUA trece printr-o perioada dificila, ar fi bine sa ne intrebam ce fel de popor suntem si ce cale vrem sa urmam. Pentru cei dintre voi care sunteti negri – tinem seama de un fapt care e evident si anume ca responsabilitatea a fost a unor oameni albi – puteti fi coplesiti de amaraciune, ura si dorinta de a va razbuna. Ca tara, putem lua acea cale de a ne polariza – negri contra negri, albi contra albi, plini de ura unii fata de altii. Sau, putem face un efort, ca cel facut de Martin Luther King, pentru a ne intelege, pentru a inlocui acel act de violenta, acea pata de sange care s-a intins pe tot cuprinsul tarii noastre, printr-un efort de intelegere, in compasiune si dragoste. Celor care sunt negri si in aceste momente sunt tentati sa se lase cuprinsi de ura si neincredere fata de nedreptatea acestui act impotriva tuturor albilor, le pot spune doar ca si inima mea este cuprinsa de aceleasi sentimente ca si ale voastre. Si un membru al familiei mele a fost ucis, dar el a fost ucis de un alb. Dar noi trebuie sa facem un efort aici, in SUA, trebuie sa facem efortul de a ne intelege si a trece peste aceste vremuri grele. Poetul meu favorit, Eschil, scria: In somn, durerea care nu poate aduce uitarea se scurge pic cu pic in inima pana cand, in disperarea noastra si impotriva vointei noastre, intelepciunea vine prin gratia ingrozitoare a lui Dumnezeu.” Noi aici in SUA nu de dezbinare avem nevoie, noi aici in SUA nu de ura avem nevoie, noi aici in SUA nu de violenta si de faradelegi avem nevoie; ci de dragoste si intelepciune, si de compasiune unii fata de altii, si de un sentiment de dreptate pentru acei din tara noastra care inca mai sufera, fie ei albi sau negri. Asadar, in aceasta seara va rog sa va intoarceti la casele voastre, sa va rugati pentru familia lui Martin Luther King dar, ce e mai important, sa va rugati pentru tara noastra pe care cu totii o iubim – sa va rugati pentru intelegerea si compasiunea despre care v-am vorbit. Putem trai bine in aceasta tara. Vom trece prin vremuri grele; am trecut prin vremuri grele si vom trece si in viitor prin vremuri grele. Violenta nu se va sfarsi aici, faradelegea nu se va sfarsi aici, haosul nu se va sfarsi aici. Dar marea majoritate a albilor si marea majoritate a negrilor din aceasta tara doresc sa traiasca impreuna, sa traiasca in conditii mai bune si vor dreptate pentru toti oamenii care traiesc in tara noastra. Haideti sa ne dedicam la ceea ce vechii greci au spus cu multa vreme in urma: sa imblanzim salbaticia omului si sa facem frumoasa viata pe acest pamant. Haideti sa ne dedicam acestui lucru si sa rostim o rugaciune pentru tara noastra si pentru poporul nostru.

Robert F. Kennedy’s Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination Speech



The following speech was transcribed from a news release version, which is located in the Speech Files of the Robert F. Kennedy Senate Papers at the Kennedy Library. For more information please contact or 617.514.1629. 

Robert F. Kennedy
Cleveland City Club
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by his assassin’s bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

„Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear – only a common desire to retreat from each other – only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek – as we do – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.



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