April 4 marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. On the night of his death, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech in Indianapolis downtown. His words that night are credited with saving the Circle City from riots and violence over the tragic event. This Easter Sunday the Indianapolis community remembers both King and Kennedy with a gathering in Kings park. The NCAA and the April 4 Committee have teamed up, to make the Annual King Kennedy Commemoration an official part of the Indianapolis events happening in conjunction with the Final Four. Indianapolis sports fans and visitors from across the United States will come together in Kings Park on Sunday, April 4 at 5:00 pm to remember this historic event.
Robert F. Kennedy just happened to be on the campaign trail in Indiana on that fateful Sunday in 1968. In his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination he spoke at both the University of Norte Dame and Ball State University earlier that day. His speeches were well received by students. That evening he was schedule to give a third speech to Hoosiers in Indianapolis downtown. Though many discouraged him from the speaking engagement in a rough ghetto filled with under privileged African Americans, Kennedy insisted that their support was crucial for his political victory.
However, when landed in Indianapolis that evening, Kennedy was informed of the terrible news. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot by a white extremist outside his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. The news was expected to turn the Civil Rights movement into a bloody free for all, as the entire black community had lost their spiritual leader. After the news, Kennedy’s advisers strongly discouraged him from speaking, as violence was almost sure to erupt over the tragic incident. His decision to speak, and more importantly, his words helped a stunned community remember the teaching of Dr. King. He is credited with saving Indianapolis from a tragic event of its own.
Kennedy spoke for just four minutes and fifty seven seconds. When he took the stage, it became immediately apparent that the crowd had yet to learn of Dr. King’s death. He cautioned the crowd against erupting into anger and hatred. He referred to his brother, John F. Kennedy, and the pain he felt over that assassination by a white man as means to point to his compassion for and understanding of their feelings. He quoted the Greek playwright, Aeschylus, saying, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drops by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
Finally, he urged listeners to go home and say not only a prayer for the loss of Dr. King, but also a prayer for the difficult times the Nation faced in his absence. With a focus on remembering Dr. King’s legacy of compassion, of love and of peace, Kennedy assuaged the grieving crowd. His speech marks an important moment in Indianapolis history. It is listed among the greatest speeches in American history, and came just two month before Robert Kennedy, himself, would be gunned down and killed following his victory in the California primary.
Join Indianapolis people in remembering this historic day Sunday at the Annual King Kennedy Commemoration. Mourn the loss of a great Civil Rights leader and celebrate the actions of one man who saved Indianapolis from violence. Head to Kings Park in Indianapolis downtown to honor the legacy of both men and celebrate the progress of a great nation. This Indianapolis park is located near College Avenue and East 17th Street.
This weekend Indy is filled with basketball frenzy as the Butler University Bulldogs compete in the Final Four on home turf in Lucas Oil Stadium. With tons of fun and free Indianapolis attractions and events such as the Big Dance Party on the Lawn at the White River State Park and the Final Four Indiana Blood Drive at the NCAA Hall of Champions, fun is popping up all over the place. The Annual King Kennedy Commemoration is just one more Indianapolis event to add to the list.
All Indianapolis hotels are booked. And Indianapolis restaurants and Indianapolis bars are gearing up for heavy traffic all weekend. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Event and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. We cover Indianapolis art to Indianapolis real estate and more! Get out in Indy and find some fun!
Annual King Kennedy Commemoration
Sunday, April 4 at 5:00 pm
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Landmark for Peace Memorial
1702 Broadway Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202