On the Mindless Menace of Violence

"On the Mindless Menace of Violence" was a speech given by United States Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. He delivered it at the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel on April 5, 1968, in the wake of riots and chaos following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., an African-American civil rights leader. Speechwriters worked early into the morning on a full response to the assassination. After revising the draft, Kennedy spoke for only 10 minutes in front of 2,200 people at the City Club of Cleveland, outlining his views on violence in American society. He faulted both the rioters and the white establishment who, from his perspective, were responsible for the deterioration of social conditions in the United States. He proposed no specific solutions, but admonished the audience to seek common ground and cooperation. Journalist Jack Newfield framed the address as a suitable epitaph for the senator, who was himself assassinated two months later.

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