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 I watched, breathless as Johnson ran for reelection. And then, amidst cries of "HEY HEY LBJ HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY?" dropped out. I cried as I have never cried before when Robert Kennedy was struck down by the bullets of a coward. That man was my hope. He stood in an Indianapolis inner city mere months before he himself was assassinated. That city that was on the virge of rioting due to the assassination of Martin Luther King. The anger was so thick I doubt if there was a soul there that didn't have trouble breathing.

 More below.

  There were  riots in 60 cities. I thought the world was ending. I thought the entire nation was about to descend into chaos. And violence. But there was no riot in Indianapolis that day. There was no violence. Because he said this:

   

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much

   We now, unfortunately, find ourselves again in such a time when injustice is cloaked under the guise of rule of law. We again find ourselves in a time when the rights of our fellow citizens are ignored. Let us know, all exhausted but all determined and all standing in our common concern remember the true Hero of my lifetime. DADT and DOMA still stain our nation even as our leaders continue to ignore them and treat them as political footballs. I know the frustration and anger at this is reaching a fever point, but we must continue making our voices heard. We must continue our pressure and organization. Our only weapons are our voices.

   Remember:

     

If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America. And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year.

      I watched him on television saying that. That is the mark of progressive truth. It is more true to day than yesterday.

      Thank you.

Originally posted to Socratic Method on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:05 AM PDT.

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