Robert F. Kennedy (pictured), a politician and prominent member of the famed Kennedy family, was an undaunting champion of civil rights. On May 27, 1968, Kennedy gave a radio interview to “Voice Of America,” the largest U.S. international broadcaster, when he was the Attorney General in his brother’s, President John F. Kennedy’s, administration. During his interview, as he pointed out all of the imperfections in America’s fabric regarding equal rights for Blacks, did he in fact make a bold proclamation that he envisioned an African American occupying the same Oval Office that his brother once did?
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Kennedy (aka Bobby or R.F.K.) was a powerful ally to the Black community, because he helped to invoke change in his reign as Attorney General during the Civil Rights era. In the fall of 1962, Kennedy sent thousands of federal troops to Oxford, Miss., to enforce a U.S. Supreme Court order admitting the first Black student, James Meredith, to the University of Mississippi. The state’s governor, Ross Barnett, a fierce proponent of segregation, had attempted to shut Meredith out, with her enrollment prompting violent protests at the school.
The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a kind of “labor of love” for Kennedy. The Act, which outlawed racial discrimination in voting, employment, and public facilities, was carefully constructed by both brothers and former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1965, Kennedy embarked upon a political journey as a N.Y. senator, continuing to crusade for the downtrodden. Kennedy also made journeys to places where poverty reigned supreme, such as the Mississippi Delta, migrant worker’s camps, and urban ghettos, so that he could study the effects of poverty and come up with possible solutions. He even traveled across the globe to South Africa, where apartheid was in full effect to advocate for human rights in the country.
When 1968 rolled around, Kennedy was urged to run for president. The married Father of 11 children announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on March 16, 1968, declaring, “I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all I can.”
One week before RFK was assassinated and just two months after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (pictured) was gunned down, Kennedy was interviewed by the then-popular radio “Voice of America” show, which at the time reached more than 60 countries globally. Translations of the broadcast were superimposed in the delivery of the interview in 37 languages.
With Blacks soldiering through civil rights at the time, Kennedy did in fact speak of his dream of a Black president being elected some four decades later:
Things are moving so fast in race relations. A Negro could be President in 40 years. There is no question about it. In the next 40 years, a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother [John F. Kennedy] has,” said RFK. “Prejudice exists and probably will continue to…but we have tried to make progress and we are making progress. We are not going to accept the status quo.”
Countless Whites were so offended by Kennedy’s words that many got up and walked out of the room.
When President Barack Obama ran for the presidency and won back in 2008, Kennedy’s words regained popularity and were corroborated by his daughter Kerry, who was interviewed in New York as the city renamed the Triborough Bridge in her father’s honor. “My father said this would happen,” she said. “You can look up the exact quote, but he said that in 40 years an African American would be President.”
Watch Kerry Kennedy talk about her father’s prophetic words here:
RFK gave a speech after he had just won the California primary in his Democratic presidential bid. After his speech, he was Chicago-bound.
He never made it.
The Senator was gunned down minutes after making his speech by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan in the hotel’s kitchen; Kennedy passed away on June 6, 1968, and his passing still stings many in the Black community.
He was only 42 years young.
Watch coverage of Kennedy’s assassination here:
Forty years later, a Black man, Barack Obama, did take over the presidency of these United States, so was Bobby Kennedy psychic? You be the judge….
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