Robert F. Kennedy’s Victory Speech
In 1968, Senator Robert F. Kenney launched his presidential campaign against then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey based on the administration’s failures to solve the problem of hunger. The previous year, Kennedy witnessed firsthand the devastating situation in the Mississippi Delta after attending hearings in Jackson about the lives of poor tenant farmers. In one particularly impactful moment, Kennedy, the father of ten children, met a boy with a swollen belly who had been left lying on a dirt floor and attempted to soothe the hungry, unresponsive baby. Through tears, Kennedy turned to reporter Nick Kotz and said, “My God, I didn’t know this kind of thing existed. How can a country like this allow this.” A year later, after he won the California primary, Kennedy gave an impromptu victory speech where he highlighted campaign themes of labor and racial justice, ending the speech with an urgent call to help those suffering from hunger. Just after walking out, Kennedy was assassinated, leaving his campaign promises.
Levenstein, Harvey. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 144.
Galleries & Exhibits
- 11865-1925: Hunger in the Industrial City
- 21929-1940: America in Crisis and Recovery
- 31945-1965: WWII and the Paradoxes of the Postwar Era
- 41955-1980: The Fight for the Right to Food
- 51975-1996: The Unmaking of the Great Society
- 61997-Present: How It Is — And How It Should Be