Courageous Ideas, Words and Actions for Human Rights for All

Committed to the ideals of social justice, Robert F. Kennedy challenged complacency in American society and sought to bridge the great divides in American life—between the races, the poor and the affluent, the young and old. Committed to the principles of freedom and social justice, he carried a message of hope and an unflagging conviction that courage would bring change.

His central belief in the civic and moral responsibility of each individual and the community to take action against injustice, poverty, and prejudice underlined his public life. He urged each person not to turn a blind eye but instead to tackle the issues that challenge freedom and justice. Although his life was cut short, Robert Kennedy’s vision and ideals live on today through the work of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and beyond.

By studying Kennedy’s life and looking at the content of his speeches and campaigns through the lens of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, students will come to understand the power of words and speeches to inform and inspire people and assess the breadth and scope of human rights issues during RFK’s life and what the status of those human rights are today. In the “Become a Defender” portion of the lesson, students will carry out a school- or community-wide education and advocacy project based on what the students learned about the life and work of Robert F. Kennedy.

Because all the activities involve independent or group research that can be done online, this lesson plan fits into either virtual or in-person classrooms, with opportunities for discussion and collaboration on Zoom or with classmates.