New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy was on the presidential campaign trail as a Democratic nominee when he was fatally shot by a hitman at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on this day in history, June 5, 1968.
The New York legislator, better known as Bobby, was 42 when he died.
Moments before he was shot, Kennedy gave a victory speech to supporters in the ballroom of the hotel’s Embassy Room, according to the Los Angeles Almanac. He had just won the California primary.
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The last words of Kennedy’s speech, delivered to a clamoring crowd shortly after midnight on June 5, were, “My thanks to all of you,” the same source says.
He added, “And now it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there.”
In this May 9, 1968 file photo, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, DN.Y., addresses United Auto Workers delegates in a convention hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (AP photo)
As Kennedy pushed his way through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting well-wishers and hotel staff on his way to another room for a press conference, he was shot several times by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant from Jordan, the Los Angeles Almanac reports.
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Robert Kennedy was pronounced dead a day later, on June 6, 1968, History.com notes.
“Just because we can’t clearly see the end of the road, that’s no reason not to embark on the essential journey.”
On April 23, 1969, Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death after being convicted of Kennedy’s assassination.
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In 1972, Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty, according to History.com.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy photographed on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)
The summer of 1968 was an exciting time in America. The Vietnam War had created a restless population at home, as well as an outspoken anti-war movement.
“In light of this turmoil, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming presidential election, and Robert Kennedy, younger brother of John (Kennedy’s) and former U.S. Attorney General, stepped into this breach and experienced a tidal wave of support,” says History.com.
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“At stake is not only the leadership of our party and even our country,” Kennedy said when announcing his candidacy for president on March 16, 1968, according to the University of Virginia. “It is our right to moral leadership of this planet.”
Robert Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925 in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Kennedy. He interrupted his studies at Harvard University in Massachusetts to serve in the United States Navy during World War II, but returned to college and graduated in 1948, says Brittanica.com.
Pictured in the center (left to right) are Ethel Kennedy and her husband, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, before he was fatally shot on June 5, 1968, during his campaign stop at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)
Kennedy received a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1951, that university notes.
On June 17, 1950, Robert Kennedy married Ethel Skakel of Greenwich, Connecticut.
The couple had 11 children: Kathleen, Joseph, Robert Jr., David, Courtney, Michael, Kerry, Christopher, Max, Doug and Rory, according to the human rights group Robert F. Kennedy.
After graduating from law school, Kennedy began his political career the following year in Massachusetts by leading his brother John F. Kennedy’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate, the same source notes.
On March 16, 1968, Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
After JFK won the 1961 election, Robert Kennedy was appointed attorney general in his cabinet, says History.com.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Robert Kennedy remained Attorney General until he resigned in September 1964.
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After President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Robert Kennedy briefly served as Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, says History.com.
A passionate communicator, Kennedy, said in Poland in 1964 during the Cold War as Attorney General, “Just because we can’t clearly see the end of the road, that’s no reason not to embark on the vital journey,” said the website of the University of Virginia.
Senator-elect Robert F. Kennedy places a flower by the eternal flame on the grave of his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, during a visit on the first anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. (Getty Images)
“In August 1964, Bobby resigned and subsequently ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate representing New York State. This was the first time he had run for public office himself,” says the National Park Service. .
On March 16, 1968, Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was, in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “an exuberant campaign, filled with enthusiasm and fun … It was also a campaign in motion and passion,” as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum reports.
“His 1968 campaign brought hope to an American people plagued by discontent and violence at home and war in Vietnam,” the library also says.
“He won critical primaries in Indiana and Nebraska and spoke to enthusiastic crowds across the country.”
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While giving a presidential campaign speech at a rally in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 4, 1968, Kennedy learned of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, reports Stanford University in California.
Kennedy informed the largely black public of King’s death, warning them not to be “filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act against all whites” for “Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and justice for his fellow men , and he died from that effort,” the university’s website reads.
Above, a special White House conference with civil rights leaders. Posing in the Rose Garden from left to right: Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Attorney General Robert Kennedy; Roy Wilkins, NAACP Executive Secretary; and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. (Getty Images)
Kennedy’s legacy dedicated to social activism and human rights continues today through the nonprofit “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights,” says the National Park Service.
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In January 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom rejected the release of hitman Sirhan Sirhan from prison and back into society on parole — more than half a century after the 1968 assassination, according to the governor’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explaining his decision.
“The assassination of Senator Kennedy by Mr. Sirhan is one of the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his conclusion.
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The political aspirations of the Kennedy family continue even today. On April 19 of this year, Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 69, an environmental lawyer, activist and vaccine critic, announced that he was taking up a Democratic challenge against Joe Biden, as Fox News Digital previously reported.
Erica Lamberg is a contributing reporter for Fox News Digital.