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Spokane Author Writes about MLK/RFK Relationship

Claire Rudolf Murphy/Chicago Review Press

This week we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. Many listeners vividly remember these events. But for those who are too young, here’s a quick thumbnail sketch.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee on behalf of black sanitation workers who were on strike. He’d given a speech at a local church the night before, one now remembered as his “Top of the Mountain” speech. It was around dinner time and he was standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel, where he was staying with associates, when he was hit in the face by a single bullet. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

That night, Senator Robert Kennedy, who had developed a relationship with Dr. King, was campaigning in Indiana. Kennedy was running for the Democratic Party nomination for president. When he came to Indianapolis, he spoke to a crowd and broke the news about King’s death.

“For those of you who are black and tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act against all white people, I would only say that I can also 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 get beyond or go beyond these difficult times,” Kennedy said to a crowd in Indianapolis.

Many have praised that five-minute talk as one of America’s greatest political speeches. It’s one of the points in time that Claire Rudolf Murphy writes about in her new book about the relationship between Dr. King and Robert Kennedy.

“They were the only large city not to riot and they would say because it was in the black neighborhood of Indianapolis. You know, it can be overdone and like, Bobby saved a city. It’s not that," Rudolf Murphy said.

"There was good leadership. There was some communication between black and white leaders; not great, but there. Richard Lugar was mayor; you might remember his name. He became a senator later. But he credits, he said Bobby Kennedy saved our city from what happened to Detroit, you know, all the burning and the neighborhoods and the loss of businesses," she said.

And loss of life. Murphy’s book, called “Martin and Bobby: A Journey Toward Justice”, is written for teenagers, as many of her books are. And she says it’s a work that digs into that relationship between the two men who lost their lives within two months of each other.