Raised as devout Roman Catholics, Robert Kennedy and his seven siblings enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege. Among Kennedy’s older brothers was future U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
While touring Jerusalem at age 22, he was arrested, blindfolded, and brought to the Haganah headquarters, where he was advised to stay off of the streets.
Robert and Ethel became engaged in February 1950 and were married on June 17, 1950, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenwich, CT.
Invites Ralph Bunche, an African American who had received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, to speak at the University of Virginia Law School. Bunche refused to speak before a segregated audience; Kennedy’s passionate argument before the university’s governing board persuaded them to agree to an integrated event.
Fresh out of law school, Kennedy joined the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in 1951. Bobby and Ethel's first of 11 children, Kathleen Hartington, was born July 4, 1951. In 1952, he resigned the position to lead his older brother John’s senatorial campaign.
RFK Dispatches U.S. Marshals to protect Freedom Riders in a Birmingham church surrounded by a hostile mob. In response to President Kennedy’s threat to send in federal troops, Alabama Gov. John Patterson deploys National Guard to disperse the mob, allowing Freedom Riders to continue their journey unhurt.
FEBRUARY 1962 — Embarks on a multi-nation tour with Ethel, carrying a message of freedom and democracy to students and leaders around the Globe. Stops included Berlin, Jakarta and Tokyo. "Just Friends and Brave Enemies" is published, capturing highlights of that trip.
During the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy works closely with his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and other cabinet members to avert nuclear war with the Soviet Union over missiles it had placed in Cuba. Robert Kennedy is especially instrumental in negotiating a solution with Soviet ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin.
Kennedy sends Deputy Attorney General Nicholas de Katzenbach to escort Vivian Malone and James A. Hood as they enroll in the University of Alabama, where Governor George Wallace stood in the door of the administration building, attempting to block their entrance. That night, JFK delivers speech calling civil rights “a moral issue,” a phrasing that RFK had urged.
July 1, 1963: Robert F. Kennedy Testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee on behalf of the Civil Rights Act.
Funded by a combination of private, public, and foundation money, the Free Schools Program leased the closed public school buildings and hired teachers from around the country to offer local African-American students the education that they were constitutionally entitled to.
November 22, 1963 - The nation mourns. President Kennedy killed by a gunman in Dallas, Texas.
As Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had in many ways served as the administration’s spokesman on the law, and he was instrumental in persuading Senator Everett Dirksen, the minority leader, to support the bill, ensuring that civil rights supporters could overcome the Southern Democrats’ filibuster.
Announces a major revitalization effort in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. An innovative partnership between the federal government, private enterprise, and the neighborhood’s residents and leaders, results in the formation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the nation’s first community development nonprofit, which endures to this day.
Views first-hand poverty and hunger in the Mississippi delta and commits to helping, leading to aid for the sick and poor and food program bills.
Travels to Delano, California to break bread with United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez, who was ending a 25-day fast to draw attention to the conditions facing migrant farmworkers in California.
"It is our right to moral leadership of this planet...I cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation's future and our children's future.”
In one of the great speeches in American history, Robert Kennedy offers an impromptu eulogy to Martin Luther King, Jr., who was murdered earlier in the day. Speaking to a mostly black crowd in Indianapolis that had not yet learned of Dr. King’s death. While cities across America rioted and burned that night, Indianapolis was peaceful. "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 the world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that and say a prayer for our country and for our people"
After winning the California Primary in June, Robert Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles. In December of 1968, the 11th and youngest child of Ethel and Robert Kennedy, Rory Katherine Elizabeth was born.
That same year, his family and friends established a living memorial to carry forth his unfinished work in efforts to realize his dream of a more just and peaceful world.
Be a part of continuing Robert F. Kennedy's vision for a more peaceful and just world. Join Us.