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40 Years Later: "A legacy of grace out of anger and grief"

When the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed 40 years ago, countless cities across the country were engulfed in violence as frustration and anger spilled out into the streets. In Indianapolis, it was not so, a fact that many have attributed to the words of Robert Kennedy made during a fateful campaign stop at 17th Street and Broadway.

Dan McFeely of the Star explains this morning that a tradition of peace had existed in the city long before that night, and I would recommend checking it out. The editorial page features a look back at the Kennedy speech itself, and why it is still significant after all of these years.

Was he the one who broke the news that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fatally shot hours before in Memphis? To some in his audience, certainly; but even in those pre-cable, pre-Internet days, word was already out.

Did he, by the force of eloquence, soothe away mass rage and spare this city from a riot the likes of which erupted all over the nation? Not by himself. Many local leaders had a hand in pursuing calm that night and long after RFK departed; and besides, volatility was not a hallmark of Indy residents, black or white.

No, it was not a revelation nor a miracle worthy of Moses that gave lasting significance to that moment on an outdoor basketball court in a neglected corner of the city. It was not idol worship that inspired a monument to Kennedy and King, forged from melted-down guns, in what is now MLK Park.

It was a politician's courage in putting his body where his mouth was. It was the intersection of a message of peace with the horror of racial violence. And it was words -- unrehearsed, poetically simple, from and to the heart.


Our new Democratic Congressman André Carson spoke today:

I thought it would be appropriate to share a link containing the memorial and historical markers for the location of the Kennedy "tradition of peace" speech.

This link also has a real audio file of the speech:

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