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INDIANAPOLIS–The speech that Robert Kennedy gave in Indianapolis the night Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, will be made part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, the Library announced Wednesday.

“The National Recording Registry honors the music that enriches our souls, the voices that tell our stories and the sounds that mirror our lives” said Carla Hayden, with the Library.

“The influence of recorded sound over its nearly 160-year history has been profound and technology has increased its reach and significance exponentially. The Library of Congress and its many collaborators are working to preserve these sounds and moments in time, which reflect our past, present and future.”

The recording of the speech captures the tone and emotion of his delivery and the expressions of the crowd — their dismay at the news of King’s death as well as their support for his calls for the country to pull together in the pursuit of both peace and justice, said a news release from the Library of Congress. 

The speech was made on the back of a flatbed truck, against the advice of then-Mayor Richard Lugar, who worried about the safety of the presidential candidate. That area is now Kennedy-King Memorial Park.

Kennedy himself would be shot and killed just two months later. His remarks still resonate today and recall a frightening time of political violence as well as a dream for a better future.

“On April 4, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy enlightened and inspired a crowd gathered in Indianapolis and conveyed a moving message of peace and forgiveness in the midst of violence across the country following the assassination of Dr. King,” said State Rep. Gregory W. Porter, board chair of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative. 


“It is important to honor the lives of Dr. King and Sen. Kennedy and to use the commemoration as a time of reflection and their words as inspiration to guide us as we work to diminish racial conflict, inspire courageous action and strengthen Indianapolis.”

A memorial will be held on April 4, the 51st anniversary of the speech, at the park. People who were there and witnessed the speech are invited to a special recognition at this year’s memorial.

PHOTO: Bettman Collection/Getty Images