On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. As Kennedy prepared to fly from an appearance in Muncie to Indianapolis, he learned that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot outside his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. When his plane landed in Indianapolis, Kennedy heard the news that King had died.
Despite warnings from Indianapolis police that they could not guarantee his safety, and brushing off concerns from his own staff, Kennedy decided to proceed with plans to address an outdoor rally to be held in the heart of the city's African American community. On that cold and windy evening, Kennedy broke the news of King's death in an impassioned, impromptu speech on the need for compassion in the face of violence. It has proven to be one of the great speeches in American political history.
Two thousand eight—a highly anticipated election year—marks the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's Indianapolis speech. In his book, Ray E. Boomhower explains what brought the politician to Indiana that day and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary in which Kennedy had a decisive victory.