Robert Francis Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925 in Brookline Massachusetts. He was the seventh child, and third son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joe Kennedy . “I was the seventh of nine children,” he later recalled, “and when you come from that far down you have to struggle to survive. “( Alden Whitman, 2001). Compared to his brothers, Robert or Bobby as they all called him, was smaller and he struggled to match his brothers athleticism. As a child Robert had a robust enthusiasm for history. It was his favorite subject in grammar school. At the age of 11, Robert wanted some independence so he got his own newspaper route.
Joe Geringer,1995). He had to get up early in the morning before school to deliver the daily paper. This grueling work schedule would prove to help him learn dedication that was needed to become a successful individual. After high school he attended Portsmouth Academy. After attending school there, he attended Milton Academy to better prepare him for Harvard . Before attending Harvard, he had to put in military service in the Navy during war time. In 1944, he began to attend Harvard University. In 1948 he received his degree in government. Three years later he earned his degree in law from University of Virginia.
Education was very important to to Kennedy family, his parents would dicuss history and education at the dinner table “I can hardly remember a mealtime,” Robert Kennedy said, “when the conversation was not dominated by what Franklin D. Roosevelt was doing or what was happening in the world. “(Alden Whitman, 2001) In 1950, Robert married Ethel Skakel of Greenwich, Connecticut she was the daughter of Ann and George Skakel, founder of Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. (Alden Whitman, 2001). The couple later had eleven children. In 1952, his brother John ran for Senate.
This is the year that Robert made his political debate as manager of his brother’s successful Senate campaign. In 1953 he briefly served on a Senate Subcommittee of Investigations. Thanks to his investigative skills Kennedy helped confirm that some United States allies during the war against communist China and Korea were shipping the countries goods. He resigned after six months because he didn’t approve of Joseph McCarthy’s tactics. (Alden Whitman, 2001). In 1960 he was the manager of his older brother’s presidential campaign After his brother won the election, Robert was appointed Attorney General . for President Kennedy’s cabinet.
During his stint as Attorney General he won praise for his effective and nonpartisan administration at the Department of Justice. He launched several successful investigations into organized crime. During his reign as Attorney General convictions for organized crime rose 800%. (Alden Whitman, 2001). He was an avid advocate for the rights of African Americans. He was very dedicated to making sure that African American had a right to vote, could use public facilities, and could attend public schools. During a speech in 1961, he committed to civil rights for all citizens of the United States. “We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move.
I happen to believe that the 1954 [Supreme Court school desegregation] decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law. ” In 1962 he sent US Marshals to make sure that African American students could go to the University of Mississippi (Alden Whitman, 2001). The Civil Rights Act of 1964, that he helped create, was passed after his brother was slain. He was praised by the African American community and angered many white voters. After the death of his brother Robert resigned as Attorney General and successfully ran for the Senate.
As a Senator he established many programs for the needy. He created the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to help living conditions and bring jobs to Brooklyn, a heavily populated African American city. (Alden Whitman, 2001) He wanted to bring the reality that poverty does exist into American homes. He often visited ghettos and migrant works camps. He wanted to help area in poverty by providing legislation and lure private industries to impoverished areas to provide jobs. He also stressed the importance of working and not simply relying on welfare, to the people. ( Joe Geringer,1995)
On March 18, 1968 he announced plans for running for the Democratic nomination for president. It was a campaign that was filled with enthusiasm much like those of his late brother. In his campaign he sought to bridge the gap between the American population. He won primaries in both Indiana and Nebraska and spoke to crowds all across the nation( Joe Geringer,1995). June 5,1968 was a very nerve wrecking day for Robert. The next day was the California primaries. After having taken a loss to Eugene McCarthy in the Oregon primaries he needed to win the California primaries to say in the running for president.
Many people thought that Robert had a good chance in winning California . While watching tv monitors for percentage of votes in the Ambassitor Hotel Robert’s spirit was lighted, he had a lead over Eugene. Even thought he had a lead, he remained watchful and cautious because he knew that any moment things could turn around for the worst. ( Joe Geringer,1995) By 11:30 he knew he had won. Along with his wife Ethel and his friends, he went to the ballroom where he was greeted. During his speech Robert addressed the fact that the United States needed to overcome racial diversity and other social evils.
He ended his speech by saying ” Now on to Chicago lets win there! ” There were no special security measures taken at the hotel, even though a political figure was there. While leaving the ballroom Robert Kennedy was fatally shot( Joe Geringer,1995). He was shot eight times by a . 22 caliber pistol. He died at 1:44 on June 6. Many Americans felt that his murder was the product of a conspiracy. His murderer was arrested but refused to give his name. The police had to transfer him through the back of the facility to the area prison where he was named prisoner “John Doe”.
The killers brothers having seen him on television, came forth to tell police his name. It was Sirhan B. Sirhan, a Jordan immigrant. Sirhan was charged with murder and attempted murder. When the police went through his belongings at his house they found several disturbing things. They included a notebook that stated “RFK MUST DIE! ” and other Anti-Jewish items. After the public was informed of this they couldn’t get the thought of conspiracy off the mind( Joe Geringer,1995). Sirhan did give a reason for the slaying. He said Kennedy was pro-Israeli and he feared that Kennedy would make change occur to his Arab nation.
Kennedy had made it very clear that he supported Israel so being an Arab Sirhan felt the only option he had was to kill him. ( Joe Geringer,1995) Sirhan had a swift trail and was sentenced to death. The world mourned the lost of an up and coming leader. Many felt that had he lived he would have become the next president of the United States. Many African Americans were deeply saddened because he had desperately fought for their rights. With the conviction of Sirhan many Americans felt that justice had been served. Yet some felt no sentence was good enough to make up for what he stole, a true American leader.
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