Brent Budowsky, a former aide to Senator Lloyd Bensten recently wrote a brief article about Robert Kennedy in The Hill comparing Obama to RFK. In my last post I made reference to the rarity of an iconoclast leader. RFK was such a leader in that he was able to transcend the politics of the day and hold fast to his vision which many times lay outside the mainstream consensus. While holding the post of Attorney General from 1960 to 1963, he supported the civil rights movement taking actions which ran counter to the establishment of the day. Originally supporting the Vietnam War, he split with President Johnson and opposed the war’s escalation before most of his colleagues in the Senate and the country at large. The following quote is a portion of RFK’s remarks made during a speech at the University of Kansas on March 18, 1968 after declaring his intention to run for the presidency.
“And if we seem powerless to stop this growing division between Americans, who at least confront one another, there are millions more living in the hidden places, whose names and faces are completely unknown – but I have seen these other Americans – I have seen children in Mississippi starving, their bodies so crippled from hunger and their minds have been so destroyed for their whole life that they will have no future. I have seen children in Mississippi – here in the United States – with a gross national product of $800 billion dollars – I have seen children in the Delta area of Mississippi with distended stomachs, whose faces are covered with sores from starvation, and we haven’t developed a policy so we can get enough food so that they can live, so that their children, so that their lives are not destroyed, I don’t think that’s acceptable in the United States of America and I think we need a change.