In the wake of the tragic shootings of nearly a dozen police officers in Dallas, internet users are sharing a speech from the past they say applies to our current situation.
Robert Kennedy’s eulogy following the 1968 assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is considered one of the great addresses of the 20th century, a call for unity in a time of great unrest.
Twitter users posted excerpts of the speech, saying it applies now more than ever after gunmen killed five police officers in Dallas Thursday night, following a protest against police brutality after two black men were killed in separate incidents this week.
Echoing the fallen King, Kennedy called for “an effort to understand, compassion and love” in the face of a tragedy that could leave the nation divided. Kennedy’s words were poignant in that his own brother, President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated some five years earlier in 1963. And to modern readers it’s doubly poignant, knowing that Kennedy himself would be shot dead just two months later.
Watch the video here, or read the speech below:
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.