Carson Leads Push for Kennedy-King Park Recognition
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman André Carson announced his bipartisan and bicameral efforts to recognize the importance of Kennedy-King Park in Indianapolis ahead of the 50th anniversary of Senator Robert Kennedy’s famous speech. These efforts include legislative and executive actions.
As a first step to preserving this unique location, Congressman Carson has introduced H.R. 4851, the Kennedy- King Establishment Act, in the House of Representatives. This legislation would establish Kennedy-King Park as a new National Historic Site within the National Park Service. Senator Todd Young, together with Senator Joe Donnelly, introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
Additionally, the full Indiana delegation, led by Congressman Carson, sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Zinke asking him to designate the site as a National Historic Landmark. They were joined by Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Joe Kennedy.
“For the residents of Indianapolis, Kennedy-King Park has long been a site where we remember how our community came together in grief and made it through one of the darkest points in our history. This site is a national treasure that is worthy of preservation so that future generations can continue to be inspired to peaceful social activism,” said Congressman André Carson. “I am proud to work with my colleagues on these important efforts that, when completed, will deliver long-overdue federal recognition and critical federal resources to help permanently protect the historic and cultural significance of this area for all to enjoy. This has been a true bipartisan effort and I thank the Indiana delegation, as well as Congressmen Lewis and Kennedy, for helping to preserve this significant moment in the history of American civil rights.”
“Fifty years ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King was tragically and senselessly murdered, Robert Kennedy helped our nation heal right here in Indianapolis. As our country continues to struggle with issues of race and diversity, it is right and appropriate for Kennedy-King Park to gain this national designation,” said Senator Todd Young, who introduced companion legislation (S.2332) in the Senate.
Senator Joe Donnelly said, “Establishing the Kennedy-King Memorial and Park as a National Historic Site is an important step in recognizing the actions and ideals of Senator Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, but also to highlight the continued efforts in the community to celebrate diversity and equality as source of strength for America. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this effort.”
“I am proud of follow Congressman André Carson’s leadership to commemorate hallowed ground in the city we both represent, Indianapolis, where Senator Robert F. Kennedy delivered the heartbreaking news of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination through a moving and timeless speech to Hoosiers,” said Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05). “Senator Kennedy’s words emphasized the importance of unity during divisive times and the need to treat our neighbors with love and compassion, even those we disagree with. His message resonated not only with the citizens in the park that day, keeping the city calm and ensuring Indianapolis did not descend into violence like many cities did across the country, but also with those who read his speech today. The site where Senator Kennedy gave his remarks nearly fifty years ago is recognized today in Indianapolis’ Martin Luther King Park with the ‘Landmark for Peace’ memorial. This park honors Senator Kennedy, Dr. King, and America’s struggle to ensure all people of all ethnicities and backgrounds have the freedom to find life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our great country. I am honored to join my colleagues from Indiana to memorialize this historic site for years to come with this legislation.”
“Fifty years ago, our nation was shaken to its core by the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As communities across the United States saw grief and anger manifest in acts of violent protest, Indianapolis residents turned their ears and hearts to the words of Bobby Kennedy, who spoke in a city park on that fateful night and called upon our better angels to prevail,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “For years, the Landmark for Peace Memorial has stood as tribute to our city’s unity and strength — a beacon for peace that calls our community forward. Thanks to the work of Congressman André Carson and Congresswoman Susan Brooks along with Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, in partnership with the Kennedy-King Memorial Initiative, this request for National Historic Landmark designation for the Landmark for Peace Memorial in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park ensures that this monument and its message will be protected for generations to come.”
“On behalf of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative Board of Directors, I would like to thank U.S. Reps. André Carson and Susan Brooks as well as Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indy Parks and Recreation and all of the other stakeholders in this great effort of working together to designate the Kennedy-King Memorial as a National Historic Site,” said State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis). “On April 5, 1968, Sen. Kennedy’s calm voice and healing words soothed the shock and anger over Dr. King’s assassination and elevated the community and city to one worthy of Dr. King’s memory and dream. On that date, Sen. Kennedy and Dr. King would become forever joined with Indianapolis.”
If enacted, H.R. 4851 would designate Kennedy-King Park as a National Historic Site and make it a permanent addition to the National Park Service (NPS) system. This would bring certainty about future preservation and federal resources as they become available, including inclusion in NPS materials, interpretive educational services and possible grants to help promote the site.
Nearly 50 years ago, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. That same night, Senator Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech to break the news to Hoosiers about what had happened. His speech calmed a volatile crowd and called for a non-violent reaction to the assassination. It has been called one of the most important speeches of the 20th Century. Unlike other cities which erupted into violence and riots following Dr. King’s assassination, Indianapolis did not burn.
As we approach the 50th Anniversary of this monumental speech, this site continues to be used for non-violent social activism, inspiring new generations as they call for civil rights and justice.