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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Junior may look different this year. The pandemic is forcing many events to move online. However, organizers said the spirit is still the same.

The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative will celebrate the day virtually. This year’s initiative is to keep students safe when they head back to the classroom.

They’re asking the community to give back by donating towards “back to in-person school preparedness kits.” The executive director of the initiative Darryl Lockett said the day is about reflection and looking towards the future.

Every Martin Luther King Day is special but this year, considering the pandemic, the civil and political unrest, Lockett said we need to remember everything Dr. King stood for and apply it to our lives daily.

“Reach out to our fellow man to be of service on this day on this weekend. How much better as a community, how much stronger we can be, how we can eliminate some of the division and injustice people spent 2020 protesting about?” said Lockett.

As people continue to suffer during the pandemic Lockett said organizers believe now is the time to honor King’s legacy and cultivate community through service to others by making sure students have what they need to safely get their education when they go back to in-person classes.

They’re asking people to donate funds so they can purchase supplies like masks, hand sanitizer, water bottles, pre-sharpened pencils, paper and folders.

“As Dr. King says, anyone can be great because anyone can serve. This is a time where we can really be of service to our fellow residents and community,” said Lockett.

Lockett said following Dr. King’s leadership and serving the community is not only a commitment to the city but also a commitment to one another and making his dream real for everyone in Indianapolis.

“It’s really a commitment to eliminating some of the social inequities we see here. We love this city. We know there’s great things about it. How can we make sure everyone’s experience in Indianapolis is one where they see the same infrastructure of opportunity available to them regardless of their socioeconomic status,” said Lockett.

One-hundred percent of the donations received will be used to purchase supplies. They are also asking for notes of support and well wishes for the students to include in the kits.
Indianapolis Teaching Fellows will give the kits out. Donations will be collected until Wednesday.

KKMI long

On April 4, 1968 Sen. Robert F. Kennedy gave an impromptu speech from the back of a flatbed truck in Indianapolis, the night Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Despite being urged to cancel his appearance due to safety concerns, Sen. Kennedy would not be deterred and delivered a moving message urging peace and forgiveness, offered in the midst of violence across the country. His words left a deep impression on all who heard it. The impassioned remarks he delivered became one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and Kennedy’s call to strive for understanding and peace reverberates today.

Additionally, the community is invited to view the documentary, “A Ripple of Hope” which is airing on April 4 at 7 p.m. on WFYI 3. Please join us in learning about this moment in time, place in history and promise to the future. A discussion guide will also be available to encourage families and friends to come together in commemoration and have meaningful conversations around what we can do together that we cannot do apart.

Visit Indy’s Kennedy King tribute

Video courtesy Visit Indy


Video courtesy WFYI

About Kennedy King Memorial Initiative

The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative is a voluntary 501(c)3 organization based in Indianapolis that works to commemorate the historic speech delivered by Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Indianapolis on the night that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The organization’s mission is to keep this unique moment in history alive and to leverage the message of Dr. King and Senator Kennedy to address issues of division and injustice experienced today. With support from the Indiana Pacers Foundation in 1994, an evocative and inspirational memorial sculpture was erected in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative wants to connect with individuals present the night that Robert F. Kennedy spoke to an Indianapolis crowd on April 4, 1968, in what is now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at 17th and Broadway. If you were a witness to the speech in 1968, please call KKMI at 317.667.9341 or email at

Rep. Susan Brooks on KKMI

Video courtesy State Rep. Gregory Porter

Rep. Susan Brooks on KKMI

Video courtesy Rep. Susan Brooks

MLK Remembrance 2

Video courtesy Rep. Andre Carson

Kennedy King Memorial Initiative Background

Mayor Joe Hogsett on MLK

Video courtesy the City of Indianapolis

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park & Landmark for Peace Memorial

Ways to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day

Use the day off… for good. Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this MLK Day by giving kids and yourself a lesson in history, activism and leadership.

Jacqueline Eckhardt, Associate Director of PR & Engagement, Downtown Indy, Inc., tells us where we can spend the day:

• White River State Park: Receive FREE admission with a donation of one non-perishable food item per person, per attraction, for Gleaner’s Food Bank. The Park is also offering complimentary parking between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Regular rates will resume after 7 p.m.)
• Few highlights below…
• Eiteljorg Museum: Final day of its holiday exhibit, Jingle Rails
• Indiana State Museum: See some of Dr. King’s most iconic speeches, experience activities themed around civil and human rights, create a “Dream” mural and reflect on what you can do to ensure Dr. King’s dream lives on for future generations.
• The National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS): Free classes ALL day!
• Madam Walker Legacy Center
• FREE celebration, Monday, Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. – noon
• Freedom March from Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library at 9:45 a.m. to march Walker Theatre for a program. Hear a candid conversation with criminal justice reform advocate Kevin D. Richardson.
• Indiana Historical Society
• FREE admission on Monday, Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
• Head to the History Center to honor the volunteer work, activism and leadership of the civil rights leader. Particpate in service activities, donate, play games, and learn more about advocating for those in our community whose needs are not being met.

• The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: FREE admission Monday, Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
• Enjoy special performances and activities celebrating Dr. King’s life and black history woven throughout five full floors of interactive galleries and exhibits at the world’s largest children’s museum. Experience vocal performances from Freetown Village. Enjoy energetic and engaging percussion music as the Griot Drum Ensemble performs authentic traditional West African and Diaspora drumming and more.

• Landmark for Peace Memorial
• Stop by Martin Luther King Park (1702 Broadway St.), the site where Robert Kennedy gave his memorable speech the night King was assassinated in 1968. The park is home to the Landmark for Peace memorial sculpture, designed and created by Indiana artist Greg Perry. The sculpture – showcasing King and Kennedy reaching out to each other – honors the contributions of both leaders.

To learn more, visit / @IndyDT on Twitter, @downtownindy on Facebook/Instagram

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative has big plans for a recent $100,000 grant: create and fill a new museum, and create and foster a new culture in Indianapolis.

With the donation, Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis is the latest nonprofit to contribute to KKMI’s new interactive exhibit, virtual reality experience and community convening space in downtown Indianapolis.

“We’ve had some successes with some of our other grantees who have gone national or international and this could be another one of those,” said Terry Mumford from Impact 100.

(Courtesy KKMI)

The new exhibit will help solidify the memory of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on April 4, 1968, where he told a crowd of more than 1,000 at the park about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He spoke of the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, also “by a white man,” and encouraged the audience to react in a non-violent way. Other cities across the country saw riots and mobs at hearing the news.

However the funding and museum have a purpose greater than preserving history. Lena Hackett, managing partner for KKMI, says Indy’s 1968 non-violent reaction is what they want to see in 2019’s Indianapolis metro area.

“Indianapolis didn’t riot. Not because Robert F. Kennedy said some fantastic words to a crowd of one thousand people, but because there were people in that crowd that heard it and responded differently,” said Lena Hackett, managing partner for KKMI. “That’s what we need to make happen.”

Hackett explained the mesage of RFK and MLK relate to the city’s current problems of race relations, equality, homelessless, food insecurity and crime.

After visitors experience the new exhibit, she hopes the public convening space will serve as a reflection and discussion forum to help people relate what they’ve learned to their lives and communities.

(Courtesy: KKMI)

“It’s really that empowerment of an 18-year-old for whatever their key issue is. That they figure out what they can do, whether that’s family or in the world, what it is about them that’s going to react differently now,” said Hackett.

“What occured here back in ’68 is of national importance,” agreed Mumford, adding that she hopes to bring her family to the new museum someday.

Image from Robert F. Kennedy’s address inside Kennedy King Park after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1968 (WISH Photo)

The entire project will cost more than $1 million, according to Hackett, and it will take a long time to complete. She says portions of the new exhibit should be open as early as summer of 2020.

The KKMI is partnering with the IUPUI Department of Museum Studies and the Indiana Historical Society to create the exhibit, and have other partners for a full schedule of programming in the visitor’s center.

(Courtesy KKMI)

The space will also serve as the home for the RFK Human Rights Speak Truth to Power Teacher’s Fellowship, which trains teachers to empower students to be human rights defenders.

The end goal for the space is full site designation by the National Park Service as a National Historical Park.

Learn more about the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative and the park at its website.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — April 4, 1968 will forever be remembered as the day civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was charged with delivering the news and a speech to a crowd right in the heart of Indianapolis that evening.

51 years later city leaders and the King Kennedy Memorial Initiative are celebrating both men and what they stood for; peace and unity for our country.

During their annual April 4th Commemoration, they welcomed comments from those who were present during Kennedy’s speech.

The Kennedy King Memorial at Martin Luther King Junior Park is also home of the Landmark for Peace sculpture that sits in the center of the land.

Hundreds gathered Wednesday in Kennedy King Park for the 50th commemoration of the assassination of the great Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, and a subsequent speech in Indianapolis by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy that had a peaceful, moving effect on the stunned audience. 

Guests of honor at the park included Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia.

Kerry Kennedy is president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and is a staunch advocate for children, impoverished families and those without a voice in politics.

Lewis is credited with following directly in the footsteps of the King, facing upward of 45 arrests for his nonviolent protests against the loss of human rights. 

The U.S. representative spoke to the crowd Wednesday morning and said King and Kennedy’s message is still relevant.

“It doesn’t matter if we are black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American. It doesn’t matter whether we are straight or gay,” he said. “We are one people. We are one family. We all live in the same house.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young presented Lewis with the Trailblazer Award. 

“For almost six decades Congressman Lewis have been leading the way as a champion of peace and justice and equity,” said Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana. “The very messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that Robert Kennedy espoused in its speech here on this sacred ground 50 years ago.” 

While receiving such an honor, Lewis sought to honor Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president had he lived, Lewis said, and King, his friend and leader.

“If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr., I don’t know what would have happened to our nation. I don’t know what would have happened to many of us that had been left out and left behind,” Lewis said. “I thank God that he lived.”

Other elected officials in attendance echoed his remarks. 

“We all still have work to do,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said. “To live up to Dr. King’s dream of equality and Robert Kennedy’s hope for unity in that higher purpose.” 

“On that night his voice would not be silenced. That message, the message of Dr. King and of Sen. Kennedy, has endured time unlike any life could,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat. 

The story of Robert Kennedy announcing to the crowd the assassination of King, then relating powerfully to their grief by sharing his own feelings at the unjust death of his brother at the hands of a white man, and calming the crowd, was repeated throughout the commemoration. 

“I want to thank you, Indianapolis, for showing our country what we can do if we work together,” said Kerry Kennedy. “As an adult I recognize the lessons father taught us as children mirrored the very beliefs he wanted the entire nation to embrace. … That peace is not something to pray for, but each of us has the responsibilty to create daily.” 

Kerry Kennedy and several elected officials, including Lewis, spoke to schoolchildren inside the Center for Inquiry School 27 on the west side of Kennedy King Park. The U.S. representative told stories of fighting alongside King and the pain of losing both King and Robert Kennedy to assassins within months of each other. Robert Kennedy was assassinated June 5, 1968.

Lewis also answered questions about causes youth are championing — including violence in schools and rights for students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He championed rights for those taken into the country illegally as children.

The officials’ messages had a significant impact on students including seventh-grader Zion Byers from Fall Creek Junior High in Fishers.

“I just thought it was amazing how they were able to work together,” he said of Kennedy and King. 

In the address outside at Kennedy King Park, Lewis also admonished the crowd to continue the dream and act on injustice through peaceful, powerful means. 

“When you see something that is not right, something that is not fair, something that is not just, you have a moral obligation to say something and do something,” he said to the cheering crowd. “You cannot be quiet.”

Robert Kennedy gave a speech in Indianapolis 50 years ago Wednesday.

He hadn’t planned to talk about the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior. He was in the Circle City to campaign for president.

That campaign stump speech quickly changed to a call for peace, compassion and love, a nod to King’s example.

Kerry Kennedy, RFK’s daughter, is set to participate in Wednesday’s ceremony remembering that legendary speech.

However, before the ceremony, Kennedy stopped by Daybreak to talk about her father, his legacy and her memories of that day and speech.

For more on this segment, click on the video.

Indianapolis is preparing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of special presentations at the famed Kennedy-King Park on the near west side.

Tuesday, audiences gathered in the Indiana Historical Society theater for a screening of the documentary “A Ripple of Hope.” Completed in 2008, the documentary draws heavily on the footage of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis the night King was assassinated. Following the film, a panel discussion will be held including Ms. Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, U.S. Representative John Lewis, filmmaker Dr. Donald Boggs, and other authors and historians.

Wednesday the commemoration events will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a 150-child youth march led by Ms. Kennedy and Representative Lewis, marching from Old School 27 into Kennedy-King Park. Speakers will address the crowd following the march around 10:30 a.m.

At 5 p.m. the official commemoration event will take place at Kennedy-King Park, including speakers, musical numbers, multicultural presentations, and poetry readings. A community dinner and reception will follow.

For more information on the events, which will go on rain or shine, visit the Kennedy-King Memorial Intiative’s website.

On April 4, 1968 news of King’s death hadn’t fully reached the city of Indianapolis. That evening, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was scheduled to make a political speech on his presidential candidacy at what is know Kennedy-King Park. As the news reached Senator Kennedy, he knew he would likely be the voice who would break the tragedy to the waiting crowd.

“It was impactful to say the least,” remembers Abie Robinson, who was 24 years old on that night in April 1968. Robinson had just finished a term with the Navy and was interested in the political changes happening in Indianapolis.

“That’s how I learned of (King’s) murder, through (Kennedy,)” said Robinson. “The leader of the movement that was making things better, a positive force behind what was happening had been killed.”

Kennedy took the microphone, and with the WISH-TV camera rolling, he began his speech.

“For those of who you are black, and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” said Kennedy. “I had a member of my family killed. But he was killed by a white man.”

Robinson says this may have been one of the first very public occasions where Bobby Kennedy spoke of the assassination of his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy.

“That night in that moment I went from a feeling of rage and anger and want for revenge in some manner, to realizing and during the course of the speech, the things that he said, the words that are on that wall” said Robinson, referencing the new plaque in Kennedy-King Park, “that that would be contradictory. If you believed in Martin Luther King and what he stood for, his message, how could you act in any other way but in a way that shows you believe it takes love to conquer hate?”

“What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another,” said Kennedy, a portion of a quote now inscribed on the plaque.

Robinson says since that day, he has felt inspired to redouble his efforts to seek peace in our communities.

“To continue the dream the Dreamer had,” Robinson said, “and see what we can do about making a change in this country and this world.”

 A plaque commemorating 50 years of an emblematic speech given in Indianapolis was unveiled Thursday morning.

The plaque was unveiled at the Kennedy King memorial. Mayor Joe Hogsett was in attendance and spoke at the unveiling.

The plaque marks the spot where Robert Kennedy told a crowd that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot.

Congress recently passed legislation to designate Martin Luther King Park a national commemorative site.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Daniel Osborne recalls the day well.

It was April 4, 1968, and Robert F. Kennedy — who was a presidential candidate at the time — was scheduled to give a speech on 17th and Broadway streets.

However, before he uttered one word, news came down that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated.

“I was bitter; it was the ruthless killing of a man; everything he did was about postivity,” said Osborne.

Handlers urged Kennedy not to speak, but he did. Kennedy broke the news to the crowd on King’s assassination.

Those in attendance gasped.

Kennedy went on to speak and calmed the crowd.

Riots broke out in other major cities as people learned about King’s death.

Indianapolis didn’t have that problem.

“Robert Kennedy calmed us down over there. It was vibrant; he had so much positivity in it,” said Osborne.

Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles.

Indiana has cemented the speech in Hoosier history with a landmark and memorial sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

Now Indiana lawmakers are seeking to designate the Indianapolis park a national historic site.

The move has received support from the entire Indiana congressional delegation, including Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young and Reps. Andre Carson and Susan Brooks to name a few.

If approved, the designation will increase the visibility of the memorial and provide the park with certain protections.

“It makes me feel good,” said Osborne. “That day made history.”