Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

Ray E. Boomhower
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/06/2017
Format: Paperback 30 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02378-0
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. As Kennedy boarded his flight from an appearance in Muncie to Indianapolis, he learned that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot outside his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. While on the plane, Kennedy heard the news that King had died. Despite warnings from Indianapolis police that they could not guarantee Kennedy's safety, and brushing off concerns from his own staff, Kennedy decided to proceed with plans to address an outdoor rally to be held in the heart of the city's African American community. On that cold and windy evening, Kennedy broke the news of King's death in an impassioned, extemporaneous speech on the need for compassion in the face of violence. It has proven to be one of the great speeches in American political history.
This compelling book reveals what brought the politician to Indiana that day and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary in which the underdog Kennedy had a decisive victory.

Author Bio

Ray E. Boomhower is the author of John Bartlow Martin: A Voice for the Underdog (IUP, 2015) and The People’s Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana. He is Senior Director of the Indiana Historical Society Press, where he edits Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History


“A first-rate book: well-researched, balanced, weaving a compelling narrative of an inspiring American and an idealistic time.”
 — Lee H. Hamilton, former US Representative and author of Congress, Presidents, and American Politics: Fifty Years of W

“Boomhower offers a compelling look at a brief few weeks in 1968 when Hoosiers found themselves at the center of a dynamic struggle over a Presidential nomination and the future direction of our nation. Along the way, he gives readers insight into the tensions, tragedy and emotions of a singular moment—Senator Robert Kennedy's remarks in Indianapolis just hours after Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot—and provides a deeper understanding of one of the more significant events in our nation's long, contentious civil rights journey.”
 — Evan Bayh, former US Senator

“This compelling book reveals what brought Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to Indiana on the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary in which the underdog Kennedy had a decisive victory. ”

“You do not have to be from Indiana to read this book. Insights on politics and electioneering in the United States abound.”
 — H-Net Reviews

“Well-written and handsomely packaged in the style of Kennedy's campaign flyers, Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary will likely stand as the definitive historical account of that contest. . . . this book is a solid scholarly contribution to the continued debate over the significance of Kennedy's presidential candidacy . . .”
 — Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“This book is a must-read for anyone interested in presidential politics.”
 — Indiana Magazine of History

“Boomhower's book provides a good account of the Indiana primary, an account that is at its best as history. It makes very good use of archival materials, blending primary and secondary sources into a compelling narrative. The narrative itself is rich with detail and deepens our understanding of several key aspects of the campaign.”
 — Rhetoric and Public Affairs

“Boomhower's account of the 1968 Indiana primary is a highly readable monograph that contextualizes the campaign quite well. . . . The book is a valuable contribution to RFK scholarship and sheds new light on the inner workings of one of Kennedy's most important political endeavors.”
 — Presidential Studies Quarterly

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


1. A Landmark for Peace
2. The Decision
3. The Governor
4. The Speech
5. The Campaign
6. The Voters Speak
7. The Train

Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy's Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968
Selected Bibliography

Related Titles