Fifty years ago I was in law school preparing for and taking first year exams. I was walking to breakfast in an underground tunnel when a young guy from maintenance approached to tell me Bobby Kennedy had been shot and killed during the night. We shared some words, a handshake becoming a hug, and some tears. I’d been working on the Kennedy campaign, walking precincts, registering and turning out voters all spring, proud of the man I was sure would be our next President. I’d worked on issues of food hunger, welfare rights and affordable housing in poor rural Virginia communities; we were protesting the war and working for civil rights and economic opportunity for every American; Bobby was our hope.
I was numb and in shock, yet still had to take a Contracts exam later that morning; I was on autopilot. Later as the loss sunk in and still later when Nixon was elected President, we all realized that the nation had turned a corner into a very dark place. The Vietnam War, the assassinations of Bobby, JFK and Martin Luther King, the election of Richard Nixon extinguished bright hopes and left despair, determination and fierce anger in their wake. Let us always remember this remarkable man and the hope he inspired in so many of us, and let us not despair though sclerotic, despotic wanna-bes abound in our land.
June 5, 2018