50th Memorial Program Title


Father Matt Malone, S.J.


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Welcome Remarks

Dolores Huerta

President and Founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation

“We must recognize the full human equality of all of our people— before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because the laws of God command it, although they do; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.”

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

Greisa Martinez Rosas

Deputy Executive Director of United We Dream

“All of us, from the wealthiest to the young children that I have seen in this country, in this year, bloated by starvation — we all share one precious possession, and that is the name American. It is not easy to know what that means. But in part, to be an American, means to have been an outcast and a stranger, to have come to the exiles' country, and to know that he who denies the outcast and stranger still amongst us, he also denies America.”

Citizens Union, NYC - December 14, 1967

Matteo Renzi

Former Prime Minister of ltaly

“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things...That Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.  It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.  And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.  If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world.”

University of Kansas - March 18, 1968

Peter Edelman

Former aide to RFK and Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law Center

“We must, if we seek not merely to lead but to lead greatly, act consistently with our belief in human freedom and equality. Those are the seminal values of our entire history… There should be no doubt that we stand – in Africa or Asia or Latin America, and in the United States itself – on the side of equality and increasing freedom; never yielding that position to the demands of temporary expediency or short-run realism. For if we allow immediate considerations, one by one, to chip away, proclaimed ideals and values, then we soon stand for nothing at all, except ourselves.”

Columbus Day Dinner, NYC - October 11, 1966

His Excellency Daniel Mulhall

Ambassador of lreland to the United States

“The whole human experiment will fail unless it can find unity and mediate its disputes, unless it can follow the paths of economic growth and cooperation, unless, above all, it can realize the equality and brotherhood of man. These are not clichés—for anybody. They are the bare essentials of survival for us all.  And on this small, vulnerable, infinitely interdependent planet, all of us are seeking solutions. Under the spur of potential plenty as under the shadow of potential destruction, we are one: our triumphs and defeats are common. The bell tolls for us all.”

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - 1966

Rashad Robinson

Executive Director of Color of Change

“Your generation—South and North, white and black—[is] the first with the chance not only to remedy the mistakes which all of us have made in the past, but to transcend them. Your generation—this generation—cannot afford to waste its substance and its hope in the struggles of the past, for beyond these walls is a world to be helped, and improved, and made safe for the welfare of mankind.”

Mark Forest

"On Eagle's Wings"


Ray Mabus

Former United States Secretary of the Navy

“America was a great force in the world, with immense prestige, long before we became a great military power. That power has come to us and we cannot renounce it, but neither can we afford to forget that the real constructive force in the world comes not from bombs but from imaginative ideas, warm sympathies, and a generous spirit. These are qualities that cannot be manufactured by specialists in public relations. They are the natural qualities of a people pursuing decency and human dignity in its own undertakings without arrogance or hostility or delusions of superiority toward others; a people whose ideals for others are firmly rooted in the realities of the society we have built for ourselves.”

University of Indiana - April 24, 1968

Bianca Fonseca

Robert F Kennedy Children's Action Corps

“…idealism, high aspirations, and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs—that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities, no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hard-headed to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values… In my judgment, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief—forces ultimately more powerful than all of the calculations of our economists or of our generals.”

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

Nancy Pelosi


“… I come to ask you to help in the task of national reconciliation: to place your energies and your time and your strength in the first work of America; the building of a nation united not on every issue, but in the enduring faith that we are to be free—that we are to have the chance for a decent life—that the natural condition of humanity is not degradation, but dignity. This is the faith that binds us together as Americans. It is this faith that shaped this nation; it is this faith that shall preserve us. From it we will find the best within ourselves, and the best within our fellow citizens; and we shall win, at the end of our labors, a new America.”

Tuscaloosa, Alabama - 1968

John Lewis


“‘And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’ What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. 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 this world.”

Indianapolis - 1968, Announcing the news of Martin Luther King’s death to its African-American community

Randi Weingarten

President of the American Federation of Teachers

“Our choice is not whether change will come, but whether we can guide that change in the service of our ideals and toward a social order shaped to the needs of all our people.  In the long run we can master change not through force of fear, but only through the free work of an understanding mind, through an openness to new knowledge and fresh outlooks which can only strengthen the most fragile and most powerful [of] human gifts: the gift of reason.”

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa - June 8, 1966

Emma Gonzalez

March For Our Lives

“First is the danger of futility; the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. ‘Give me a place to stand,’ said Archimedes, ‘and I will move the world.’ These men moved the world, and so can we all.”

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

Fred Upton


“The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American society. It will belong to those who see that wisdom can only emerge from the clash of contending views, the passionate expression of deep and hostile beliefs. Plato said: ‘A life without criticism is not worth living.’ This is the seminal spirit of American democracy. It is this spirit which can be found among many of you. It is this which is the hope of our nation. “

University of California Berkeley - October 22, 1966

Kenny Chesney

"This Land is Your Land"


Joe Kennedy III


The Honorable Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States

BJ Stiles

Representing former RFK Fellows

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change. Aristotle tells us "At the Olympic games it is not the finest or the strongest men who are crowned, but those who enter the lists. . .so too in the life of the honorable and the good it is they who act rightly who win the prize." I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.”

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

Donato Tramuto

CEO of Tivity Health

“Through the history of the world, the boundaries of great empires have faded and dissolved, their cities fallen into decay, and their wealth scattered. What remains is what they accomplished of enduring value and what they stood for. What remains is the contribution they made to the unity and knowledge and understanding of man. What remains is what they added to the hopes and well-being of human civilization and to its capacity for future progress.

None of us here, as individuals, seek success or wealth purely for its own sake. We all hope to make a larger contribution: to our families, our occupation or profession, our community, and our country. This must be true also for America as a nation, if we wish it to take that luminous and lasting place in history which is now within its grasp…."

Columbus Day Dinner, NYC - October 11, 1966

Rose Marcario

CEO of Patagonia

“We live today in an era of challenge. This is a time of uncertainty and peril; it is also a time of great opportunity. The decisions we make as a people, as a Government, during the next few years will affect the planet for generations to come. I come to ask you not only for your understanding of these challenges but for your active partnership in the efforts to meet them. For the Government is your Government. It requires your ideas, your collaboration, your criticism, and your support if it is to meet its responsibilities.

All of us are most concerned about what type of America we want to pass on to our children. Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.”

Columbia, South Carolina - April 25, 1963

Lauren Howland

International Indigenous Youth Council

“Our answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress. This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease...It is a revolutionary world that we all live in; and thus, as I have said in Latin America and Asia and in Europe and in my own country, the United States, it is the young people who must take the lead."

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

Senator Edward Markey

US. Senator from Massachusetts

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”

University of Cape Town, South Africa - June 6, 1966

The Choral Society of Washington

"Ode to Joy"


Father Charles Currie, S.J.



American University Gospel Choir

"Battle Hymn"


Thank You

Generous Donors

Donato Tramuto & Tivity Healch
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Kerry Kennedy
Diane Meyer Simon
Frank Islam & Debbie Driesman
Maeve Kennedy McKean
Patagonia, Inc.
National Association of Community Healch Centers & Tom van Coverden, President
The Cafaro Foundation
Tim Hagan
Adolfo Yannucci
Richard Kramer
Clara Bingham
Jeffrey Slavin
Fred Mayerson
Elizabeth Bagley
Terri Robinson
Dean Rudoy
Dean Morehouse
Terry Lierman
Kenneth Feinberg
Joe Lynate
George Stevens
Charlie O'Byrne
Gary Gensler
Hiram Eastland
Mack & Donna Mclarty

Special Thanks

American University Gospel Choir Arlington National Cemetery
The Choral Arcs Society of Washington Eastern High School Choir
Escher Coopersmith
Father Charles Currie, SJ.
Father Matt Malone, SJ
H.E. Mr. Daniel Mulhall & Mrs. Greta Mulhall Irish Tenor Mark Forrest
JUST Water
Kenny Chesney
Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Sarah Labadie
Silhouette Group
Sunshine Sachs
US Army Herald Trumpets




With great thanks to
Philip W Johnston,
far his invaluable guidance, generosity and effort.


Rick Allen
Norma Ces
Caroline Croft
Lynn Delaney
Caroline Haigh
Judi Hallett
Suzanne Kelly

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Maeve Kennedy McKean
Vicki S. Kennedy
Melody Miller
Stacie Rivera
Judi Hallett
Terri Robinson

Jill Schucker
Jeff Shesol
Bobbi Smith
Sophie Smyth
Kandi Stroud
Trina Vargo

Robert F Kennedy Human Rights works to carry forward Robert Kennedy's legacy.