For those of you who are black -
considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white
people who were responsible - you can be filled with bitterness,
with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction
as a country, in great polarization - black people amongst black,
white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand
and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of
bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to
understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with
hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all
white people, I can only say that I 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 go beyond these
rather difficult times.
My favourite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "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
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 or lawlessness; but 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 they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the
family of Martin Luther King, that'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; we will have difficult times in the
future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of
lawlessness; it is 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 who abide
in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years
ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country
and for our people.
The Death of Martin Luther King speech
by Robert F. Kennedy