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BIOGRAPHY OF ROBERT FRANCIS KENNEDY : Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also called RFK, was one of two younger brothers of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and served as United States Attorney General from 1961 to 1964. He was one of President Kennedy's most trusted advisors and worked closely with the president during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His contribution to the African-American Civil Rights Movement is sometimes considered his greatest legacy. After his brother's assassination in late 1963, Kennedy continued as Attorney General under President Johnson for nine months. He resigned in September 1964 and was elected to the United States Senate from New York that November. He was assassinated mere moments after delivering a speech celebrating his victory in the 1968 California Democratic presidential primary at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Three days later, on June 9, 1968, President Johnson declared an official day of national mourning in response to the public outpouring of grief following Kennedy's death.


Robert Francis Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925, in Brookline, Massachusetts, the seventh child of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Kennedy. While growing up, he was raised amid the competitive yet loyal Kennedy family culture.

Kennedy served briefly in the Navy and underwent the officer training (V-12) at Bates College, then went on to attend Harvard. He was a three-year letterman for the football team and graduated in 1948. He then enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law and earned his degree in 1951. Following law school, Kennedy managed his brother John's successful 1952 Senate campaign.

Kennedy began his career at the end of 1951 working for the Internal Security Division of the Department of Justice, which investigates Soviet agents.[1] In December 1952, at the behest of his father, he was appointed by Republican Senator Joe McCarthy as assistant counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.[2] He resigned in July 1953 but "retained a fondness for McCarthy." [3] After a spell as an assistant to his father on the Hoover commission, Kennedy rejoined the Senate committee staff as chief counsel for the Democratic minority in February 1954. [4] When the Democrats gained the majority in January 1955, he became chief counsel. Kennedy was a background figure in the televised McCarthy Hearings of 1954 into the conduct of McCarthy.[5]

Kennedy soon made a name for himself as the chief counsel of the 1957-59 Senate Labor Rackets Committee under chairman John L. McClellan. In a dramatic scene, Kennedy squared off with Jimmy Hoffa during the antagonistic argument that marked Hoffa's testimony. [6] Kennedy left the Rackets Committee in late 1959 in order to run his brother John's successful presidential campaign.

After the 1960 election, he was appointed Attorney General by President Kennedy. As Attorney General, he continued his crusade against organized crime, often at the resistance of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. Convictions against notorious organized crime figures rose by 800% during his term. Kennedy was relentless in his pursuit of Teamster's President Jimmy Hoffa resulting from widespread knowledge of Hoffa's corruption in financial and electoral actions, both personally and organizationally.

He expressed the Administration's commitment to civil rights during a 1961 speech at the University of Georgia Law School: "We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 Supreme Court school desegregation decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law." Responding to allegations that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a communist whose close confidantes were insurrectionists, Kennedy as Attorney General issued written approvals to the FBI in order for the Bureau to track and eavesdrop on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King's civil rights organization. The source of these allegations was none other than J. Edgar Hoover, who had a burning hatred for King, whom he viewed as an upstart troublemaker. Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wire-tapping the Bureau, as was common under Hoover's leadership, extended the clearance to encompass whichever areas of King's life they deemed worthy of examination - without Kennedy's knowledge.

Kennedy remained committed to Civil Rights enforcement to such a degree that he commented, in 1962, that it seemed to envelop almost every area of his public and private life — from prosecuting corrupt southern electoral officials to answering late night calls from Mrs King concerning the imprisonment of her husband for demonstrations in Alabama. During his tenure as Attorney General he undertook the most energetic and persistent desegregation of the administration that Capitol Hill had ever experienced. He demanded that every area of government begin recruiting realistic levels of black and other ethnic workers, going so far as to criticise Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson for his failure to desegregate his own office staff.

In September 1962, he sent U.S. Marshals and troops to Oxford, Mississippi, to enforce a Federal court order admitting the first African American student, James Meredith, to the University of Mississippi. Riots ensued during the period of Meredith's admittance, which resulted in hundreds of injuries and two deaths. Yet Kennedy remained adamant concerning the rights of black students to enjoy the benefits of all levels of the educational system. The Office of Civil Rights also hired its first African American lawyer and began to work cautiously with leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Robert Kennedy saw voting as the key to racial justice, and collaborated with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to create the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which helped bring an end to Jim Crow laws.

He was to maintain his commitment to racial equality into his presidential campaign, extending his firm sense of social justice to all areas of national life and into matters of foreign and economic policy. At Ball State University Kennedy was to question the student body as to what kind of life America wished for herself; whether Americans had earned the great luxury she so enjoyed and whether Americans had an obligation to those in society and across the world who had so little by comparison.

As his brother's confidante, Kennedy oversaw the CIA's anti-Castro activities after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and he also helped develop the strategy to blockade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis instead of initiating a military air strike that might have led to nuclear war.

Although Kennedy's proximity to his brother was renowned, he was not always quite so involved in the decision making process as has sometimes been assumed. Indeed, Kennedy felt strongly that government departments ought to have clear separation of powers and responsibilities without the Attorney General's office having the final word on matters not pertaining to its remit. To a greater extent, it was President Kennedy who sought the advice and counsel of his younger brother, and it is to this extent that Robert Kennedy remained the President's closest political advisor.

President Kennedy once remarked on his brother that, "If I want something done and done immediately I rely on the Attorney General. He is very much the do-er in this administration, and has an organisational gift I have rarely if ever seen surpassed."


The assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was a brutal shock to the world, the nation, and of course to Robert and the rest of the Kennedy family. Robert was absolutely devastated, and was described by many as being a completely different man after his brother's death.

As Kennedy was introduced prior to the showing of a memorial film dedicated to JFK at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey thousands of delegates and others broke into thunderous applause for 22 minutes.

Kennedy remained as Attorney General for President Johnson, but the bad blood between them forced him to make new plans, running in New York for the U.S. Senate.

Main Article: Robert F. Kennedy Assassination

On June 4, 1968, Kennedy scored a major victory when he won the California primary. He addressed his supporters in the early morning hours of June 5 in a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He left the ballroom through a service area to greet supporters working in the hotel's kitchen. In a crowded kitchen passageway, Sirhan B. Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver and shot Kennedy in the head at close range (although some have questioned this account). Following the shooting, Kennedy was rushed to The Good Samaritan Hospital where he died, at the age of 42. A funeral mass was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. His brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy eulogized him with the words, "My brother need not be idolized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

Robert Kennedy's Grave in Arlington National Cemetery

Senator Kennedy concluded his eulogy, paraphrasing his deceased brother Robert, by quoting George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and say 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'"

Immediately following the Mass, Kennedy's body was transported by special train to Washington, D.C. Thousands of mourners crowded the tracks and stations.

Kennedy was buried near his brother, John, in Arlington National Cemetery. He had always maintained that he wished to be buried in Massachusetts, but his family believed that, since the brothers had been so close in life, they should be near each other in death. In accordance with his wishes, Kennedy was buried with the bare minimum military escort and ceremony.

Robert Kennedy's burial at Arlington National Cemetery was the only one to ever take place at night.

After Kennedy's assassination, the mandate of the Secret Service was altered to include protection of presidential candidates.

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