Sarajevo has a lot to teach the rest of the world at this moment in history, said American human rights activist, Kerry Kennedy, who arrived in the Bosnian capital last week.
Reflecting on current global matters, War in Ukraine, Afghanistan's future after US military withdrawal, the Balkans path to the EU and education on equality and human rights, Mrs. Kennedy has shared what she remembers during the time of her father Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968.
“I was only eight years old when he was murdered. And I found out sitting on the hotel room floor watching cartoons when the news was aired.” – she remembers. “I prayed for my father. Prayed for my mother. My siblings. But I also prayed for the man who killed my father. I wanted the violence to stop. It needed to end.” – she continued.
Senator and American presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was also the very person to pass the news to the African-American community that their leader, Martin Luther King, was assassinated. His speech in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 4, 1968, is one of the most quoted speeches in American history.
Mrs Kennedy shared her vision of how that speech relates to modern-day America in wake of George Floyd's murder and police brutality.
Watch the full interview with Kerry Kennedy to hear what she had to say.
The Foundation ‘Shared societies and values’ Sarajevo is hosting the global strategic planning of the American headquarters with European affiliates and partners of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation for Human Rights (RFK HR).
According to the president of the Foundation ‘Shared societies and values’ Zlatko Lagumdžija, this is the first gathering of its kind held by RFK HR in terms of defining the further strategy of its work in Europe and the wider context.
“The basic idea of the project is ‘Speak the Truth to Power’. We want this entire project from BiH and Sarajevo to spread to the entire region as part of a planetary project in which we are focused on education for the human rights of young people,” said Lagumdzija.
Read Robert F. Kennedy's full speech here:
Senator Robert F. Kennedy
April 4, 1968
“I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I 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 go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which 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 toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So, I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
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.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”