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Robert F. Kennedy is deemed as an unusual rebel of the sorts. Kennedy came from a wealthy, politically oriented family and was strongly influenced by the administrative occupations held by his father Joe and brother Jack. Kennedy worked as the attorney general and senator for New York. He had a vast empathy for minorities. While running for President Kennedy was popular among the public as he perceived all people as human beings and had a family-man aura. Unfortunately, Kennedy’s life was brought to an abrupt end in 1968 when he was assassinated.
If Robert Kennedy were today the U.S would be in better condition due to the change of country’s perception regarding prejudice faced by African Americans implemented as result of Kennedy’s compassion and understanding of racism, in addition to the acceptance of immigrants from all over into America.
Robert Kennedy was well remembered for his work in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s. Robert and the other Kennedys feared that addressing the conflict between the races would become a distraction.
Robert Kennedy was torn between taking political action and allowing the chaos to persist, even though he sympathized with the side of the oppressed. The most significant encounter that propelled Kennedy into encouraging racial liberation was the meeting hosted with black activists in his New York apartment. In 1963, Kennedy met with black artists that were prominent in the Civil Rights Movement including Harry Belafonte. These artists voiced their concerns regarding the current state of the nation deeming that Kennedy was dragging his feet in the race for racial equality, and that there was more both him and his brother could do (Martin, 2018).
One activist stated that he would not fight for the U.S in the war, justifying his statement by questioning to Kennedy why he should fight for the rights of the Vietnamese when he did not have the same rights in his own country. Shortly after the exchange, Kennedy’s empathetic nature kicked in. Larry Tye, during an interview with Terry Gross (2016) states that this is where Kennedy “began to see that it wasn’t just the laws in America that had to be changed, but it was something basic to the soul of America in terms of what was going on.” As a result, Kennedy began the deliberate work with Martin Luther King, one of the greatest Civil Rights leaders of the time. The work between both RFK and MLK created profit for both sides. Kennedy was able to increase votes from the black community through his work towards racial equality and MLK was able to spread his cause with administrative support, both fighting for equal rights.
In contrast to the current administration, Kennedy had an open mind, allowing for growth regarding social issues, in turn generating prosperity for an entire nation. When a leader takes political action to alter his own perception society follows. Sean Illing (2018) writes, the foundation regarding structural issues persists to this day and have even enhanced, without being resolved. If Kennedy were president in modern America, he would address said issues head on. Unlike Trump, Kennedy has a will to avoid beating around the bush, fabricating the subjugation faced by all minorities, or shifting the blame, allowing room for new government changes such as an increase in minorities in government roles and changes to current legislation. Kennedy “understood the pain of racism, violence, injustice, and death, having witnessed it politically and personally” (Joseph, 2018) putting himself on the line through comprehension of the struggles faced by black Americans in order to promote peace among all. Kennedy implemented strategies to lessen police brutality and unequal opportunity for blacks regarding school and job opportunities. There is a need for an advocate for the underdogs in a liberal position, as many politicians today regress progress made before, and Kennedy, if he were alive today, could provide that. In the past, Kennedy’s focus towards a civil society stems from support from political activists. Kennedy would be alongside the founders of BLM and other political leaders to level off the inequality faced by black Americans regarding police brutality, inhibitions of school and work opportunities, and living environments while also imprinting hope within U.S citizens that racial equality is possible.
Robert Kennedy comes from a line of Irish immigrants. Because of his heritage, Kennedy had mercy for immigrants in the U.S. Without the migration of his family, Robert would not have any of the opportunities or triumphs that he did. Robert Kennedy drafted and pushed the 1965 Immigration Reform Act through senate which removed the quota of how many immigrants were permitted to enter the U.S from other countries (Reddy, 1998) supplying them with the means for a more successful and safer life. From the 1920s until 1965, the immigration policy was based upon quotas were promoted for each nationality based on prior U.S Census figures (History.com Editors), meaning that there was a higher number of European immigrants while there was a limitation of Hispanic, Asian, and African migrants. Undoubtedly, the reform of the original U.S immigration policy was a consequence of the roaring civil rights movement. As citizens of the U.S became more welcoming and tolerant of those from different ethnicities within their own country, they began to see the current immigration policy as discriminatory. (Reddy, 1998). This pushback on the government as a result from the maturation in the U.S where groups demanded political change regarding current immigration policies.
If Kennedy were alive today, he would have views regarding immigration different from those of Trump due to his passion driven by experience. Unlike Trump who openly discourages the immigration influx, implying that it taints the greatness of America, Kennedy embraced the broader spectrum. In 1964 Kennedy wrote to the New York Times ‘The national origin system was conceived in a spirit of mistrust of certain racial groups…It violates our national philosophy because it judges individuals solely on their place of birth” (Kammer, 2015). Kennedy is referring to the direct disregard and bias towards minorities, bringing awareness that despite varying racial backgrounds all individuals have the potential in the U.S. For example, without Hispanic migrant workers who primarily work in farms, the deportation of these workers would have a disastrous effect on the U.S food supply, and the health of the entire nation will suffer. Today, Kennedy would have insight and view migrant workers as a benefit to society and value them as human beings, allowing for prosperity of the entire nation.
A characteristic that holds Kennedy above prior presidents is his compassion. Ingrained within was sympathy towards others who did not have the luxuries and privileges he did. While his life was cut short, if Kennedy were alive today he would be able to alter the perception of bigots implementing racist ideologies in the U.S. Kennedy felt empathy for others, often driven by personal experience. His work with the civil rights movement was a precursor for his work with immigration. In both cases, Kennedy set out to create harmony in the nation. Today his approaches would be similar. He would identify structural issues limiting minorities and address them head on, develop new legislative approaches while creating reforms to older ones, and most importantly work with present day activists to deepen his understanding of injustice and inequality faced by all minorities in the U.S. Through the resurrection of Robert Kennedy only then would America be on its way to becoming great again.
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