April 4, 2018

John Lewis and Kerry Kennedy at MLK 50th Anniversary Event

                                                                                                                                        Photo by Chai Baker, Simon Youth Academy student

IN HONOR OF MEN — U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, served as the featured speakers during “Still We Reach,” a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — and the speech given by Robert F. Kennedy to an Indianapolis crowd after King’s assassination. Below, middle school students and staff from Center for Inquiry School 27 braved the cold weather to attend the event hosted by the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative.

IPS students from Center for Inquiry School 27, Simon Youth Academy, and Shortridge and Herron high schools — among others — braved the cold, snow and high winds to be among the crowd on Wednesday morning for “Still We Reach: Community Reflection & Conversation with John Lewis and Kerry Kennedy.”

The public event, held in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 1702 N. Broadway St., commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. King — and the historic, impromptu speech given by Robert F. Kennedy, who announced the assassination of the slain civil rights leader in 1968 to an Indianapolis crowd.

Kennedy gave his speech in the same Indianapolis park where Wednesday’s event was hosted.

CFI27 Students and Staff attend 50th anniversary event of MLK's death

“Still We Reach” featured local and national dignitaries who provided remarks about Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy, focusing on how both men worked together and separately to achieve equality for everyone.

“This is hard, this is tough for me to come back here to this park,” said U.S. Rep. Lewis, a civil rights pioneer who marched and fought alongside Dr. King. “I lost a friend. I lost a big brother. I lost my leader.”

Lewis told the crowd — which included those in the park as well as those watching via live stream — that he believes if both King and Kennedy were still alive today, we as a society would be closer to a more unified country.

“If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr., I don’t know what would have happened to our nation,” said Lewis. “I thank God that he taught us how to live, how to stand up for what we believe in, how to be brave, courageous and bold, and to never give up.”

A group of middle school students from CFI 27, dressed in winter coats, hats and gloves, said it was important for them to attend the event in person – despite the frigid temperatures.

Amire K., 13, attended because he wanted to learn from U.S. Rep. Lewis about Dr. King and what happened on April 4, 1968.

“I learned about the struggles that people had to go through against the injustices that were going on during that time,” said Amire, who was pleased to see people of diverse backgrounds in the crowd.

He said the diversity showed him that it’s more than just black and white people who care about (equality). “It means that all races really care about this event and this history and that they are willing to come out here and listen to these people talk about how things were.”

Sofia Q., 12, and Greta T., 13, both said attending “Still We Reach” was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Greta’s favorite part of the event was listening to Lewis talk about the difficulties of his life growing up, and how much he loved Robert F. Kennedy.

The speakers — which also included Kerry Kennedy (the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy), U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb — also inspired students in attendance.

“What I’ll take away from this event is that there is hope that everyone will be one and we will be family,” said Sofia. “That we will not be judged by race or gender, but to be judged by the content of our character, like Martin Luther King Jr. said.”

“Still We Reach: Community Reflection & Conversation with John Lewis and Kerry Kennedy” was presented by the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that builds on the historical events of April 4, 1968, to raise awareness, provoke thought and inspire action to eliminate division and injustice.