I am an unabashed fan of the Kennedys. I admire their dedication to "the least of these," even though they had full access to the lifestyle of "the most of these."
As the 50th Anniversary of JFK's murder approaches within hours, I offered these thoughts on my personal blog and I am sharing them here too.
It's 11:03pm on the East Coast on November 21, 2013.
In less than 24 hours, it will be at the exact minute that is 50 years since someone murdered President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The exact details of his murder or assassination are not concrete for me or many Americans or even citizens of the world, for that matter.
There are "official reports" about his demise, but one thing is certain. He died before he could really shine.
Many others died before they could really shine too. Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Francis Kennedy come to my mind, as well. There are those that have been and continue to step up in the legacy of MLK. Our own NC Conference of the NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Rev. Curtis Gatewood, Bob Zellner and Tim Tyson fight for that legacy daily. There are others...don't think I'm not honoring you as well. I honor all who stand up to fight for MLK and Malcolm X's legacies.
For me, I suppose I personally feel drawn to the legacy of RFK. Weeks before his own death, Bobby Kennedy correctly predicted the election of a "negro president" some 40 years in the future. There is a book called The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now. It is a collection of Sen. Kennedy's speeches on the campaign trail in the Democratic primaries for President in the Spring and Summer of 1968. It is edited by Norman MacAfee. It is so inspirational to me and it helps to drive my progressive activism for justice every day.
I was briefly inspired and excited by the national presence of Sen. John Edwards, who seem to be picking up the mantle of Bobby Kennedy's impassioned work for the poor, the workers, women, minorities and the sick and elderly. The accusations and allegations of impropriety in both family and campaign finance matters shattered that vision for me and millions of others, I'm sure.
So, now we have that African American president. Once he became President, though, President Obama was shackled by the office and by his willingness to compromise with unreasonable Republicans and Tea Party members in pursuit of the greatest good for the country.
President Obama needs help. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alan Grayson and others are amazing, but they cannot do this alone.
So...as the 50th anniversary of the murder of Bobby Kennedy's older brother approaches in a few hours, I ask: Who will pick up the mantle of RFK? His legacy must continue...