Robert F. Kennedy, affectionately known to all as Bobby Kennedy, against the advice of his brother Senator Ted Kennedy and many of the leading Democratic Party leaders, entered the Presidential race on March 16th, 1968. Pacifica Radio was there to record his meteoric rise from late comer to his murder in the early morning hours following his victory in the final and most coveted Primary of the race, California on June 4th, 1968.
We begin by playing one of Bobby Kennedy’s early speeches of his campaign in late March 1968 on the Campus of San Fernado State Valley College later named Cal State Northridge in 1972. He begins by playfully taking a jab at Richard Nixon, who Kennedy believed would be his opponent in the 1968 Presidential election. After his speech he fielded a handful of questions; we’ll hear him respond to one concerning the belief of Ted Kennedy and other Democratic Party leaders that Bobby’s entrance into the race would split the vote of the Democratic Party, and hurt the Party’s chances of defeating the Republican nominee in November.
Many thought that Bobby Kennedy’s support of the Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers in their Delano Grape Strike would hurt his chances of winning the California Primary — a concern that would prove to be untrue. We’ll listen to Bobby Kennedy state his position on the Farm Worker Struggle.
By 1968, the United States’ involvement in Vietnam was increasingly unpopular due not just because of the resulting cost in lives, money and resources, but because it was thought of as an “immoral war” — a war we had no business being involved in. We’ll listen to Bobby Kennedy address these concerns.
The question that may have been the most difficult to answer for Bobby, was the question of whether he would open the National Archives, which contained the sealed information on the murder of his brother President John F. Kennedy.
A few weeks later Bobby Kennedy was back in Los Angeles to speak in front of a gathering of business and financial leaders at the Biltmore Hotel on April 19th, 1968. Again we’ll hear Kennedy’s charm even when facing a hostile audience.
The death of Robert F. Kennedy marked the culmination of one of the most tragic years in United State’s history, preceded by the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a few month’s earlier, student protests and rioting in major cities around the country, and the increasing death toll of US soldiers in Vietnam — not to mention the assassination years ago of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. There was an unease in this country that was articulated in this recent interview with USA Radio Networks White House Correspondent Connie Lawn, who was a young journalist getting her first major work covering the Presidential campaign with Robert F. Kennedy. She spoke with the BBC’s Joanne Griffith about her experience on the campaign trail with Kennedy and the relevance of the historic events of 1968 today. Woven into this interview as she describes the evening of Bobby Kennedy’s shooting by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan is event actuality from the Pacifica Radio Archives.
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Archival recordings used in this week’s episode, Robert F. Kenndy:
BB4629 Robert F. Kennedy at San Fernando Valley State College MORE INFO
BB4503 A Major Address / Robert F. Kennedy MORE INFO
BB4511 The Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy MORE INFO
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