Rare Audio from the Rabe Vault: Bobby Kennedy as you've never heard him.
Updated: Mar 15
On October 29, 1966, Bobby Kennedy came to Michigan to stump for the Democrats. A couple episodes back, we heard a snippet of a speech he delivered at the University of Detroit ... but the whole speech is worth a listen, really fulfilling CBY's potential as a time machine.
Since I was exactly 7 months old on that day, I turned to an RFK scholar for help with the context of the speech. He's Ed Schmitt, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, and author of “President of the Other America, Robert F. Kennedy and the Politics of Poverty.”
We listen together to not only RFK's speech, but the introductory remarks from the then-mayor of Detroit, Jerry Kavanaugh; former Governor G Mennen Williams, who was running for US Senate; gubernatorial candidate Zolton Ferency, the head of the Michigan Democrats for a time; and John Conyers, who had just been elected to Congress the year before and would serve for 52 years. (1966 alert: Conyers, who was Black, is of course introduced as "articulate." It is more than a little ironic that Soapy Williams, a very good man but not a great speaker, is not introduced as "less articulate.")
(3/15/21 Correction: Listener Laura wrote me a polite note: "You said Zolton Ferency did not win the 1966 gubernatorial election; William Milliken did. I am sure you know that George Romney won that election in 1966 - by an astounding 527,000 vote margin. ... Romney, as you also know, left his third term in ‘69 to become Nixon’s HUD secretary, and Milliken finished the term, then going on to his long tenure as governor." Correct, Laura. Thanks.)
Like most of us, I think, I'd heard lots of JFK, but little from RFK on his own, so listening to this tape - which has not been heard in 54 years - is a revelation. Bobby is smart, moving, charmingly self-deprecating, funny, and prescient. It's a time capsule, to be sure, but surprisingly relevant. I mean, are you surprised that Bobby would say the GOP talks big but doesn't deliver? Plus ça change...
Here's the clumsy but eminently affordable robot transcription of this episode. Thank you, robot.
Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible>
Speaker 1 00:00:16 I think that here in the United States that we can do better and that the federal government can play a role and that the federal government can work with labor. It can work with management and that this country can move again. And that we don't have to stand stale and we don't have to be status that satisfied with the status quo. And I think that's what happened under president Kennedy, the democratic party and Lyndon Johnson. Hi, everybody. Welcome back to call back yesterday. I'm John ravey, couple episodes ago. You heard my old friend, Kathy Lavonne talking about working with my dad WT. Raby at the university of Detroit back in the 1960s. She told me on the phone just the other day. Right. And remember the university of Detroit
Speaker 2 00:01:03 67 68 and 69, probably.
Speaker 1 00:01:08 Uh, yeah, but um, we saw Bobby Kennedy there. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. That tape of RFK came from my dad's huge archive, which includes pretty much anybody who came through Detroit in the fifties and sixties from Robert Frost to Robert Kennedy, from Dick Gregory to the Beatles. And I thought lots of you might like to call back the yesterday of 1966, when Robert Kennedy came to town, I've got his whole speech on tape and we're going to listen to it, To set the scene. Let me bring in ed Schmidt. And he teaches history at the university of Wisconsin Parkside in Kenosha. He's the author of president of the other America, Robert F. Kennedy, and the politics of poverty ed, thanks for writing in our time machine.
Speaker 2 00:01:59 Thanks for having me on John. So
Speaker 1 00:02:01 I sent you this tape a few days ago and you listened to it. Had you heard,
Speaker 2 00:02:04 I heard it before? No, I had not heard that particular speech before. Would it have changed your book? It probably wouldn't have, but it was, it was really fun to listen to. Um, and it really was a window into a particular moment in time, which really, you know, the year 1966 and might not evoke the same kinds of immediate memories that say 1967 and 1968 in 1969 might have, but it really is an interesting moment when the speech took place, um, given a year and also given the fact, obviously that was just a few days before an election, sort of, it was kind of a pivot point in a lot of ways that things were about to turn in some new directions. Uh, very shortly thereafter,
Speaker 1 00:02:48 The tape, the day is October 29, 1966. The setting is the university of Detroit Memorial building. And before we hear RFK, we're going to hear the, that were given by the democratic luminaries of the time. The master of ceremonies at this event is the then mayor of Detroit, Jerry Kavanaugh. We'll also hear from G men and Williams who was running for us Senate. He'd been governor of Michigan through the fifties, and he also served in the Kennedy administration. There's Zoltan Farron, see the head of the Michigan Democrats for a time who was running for governor in 1966. And there's Congressman John Conyers who had just been elected the year before. And he'd served for 52 years
Speaker 3 00:03:33 Again, welcome. And we particularly would like to welcome our distinguished guest of honor, Senator Kennedy to a Senator. We're delighted to have you here in the city that Ralph Nader made famous and we assure you of a most warm, a gracious welcome. I really haven't ever seen the response to one of my speeches that I just received a few minutes ago when you walked in at magnificent and I'm most pleased at this point to introduce to you the Congressman. That is my Congressman. I'm one of his constituents as are many of the people in this room and this fine field house sits in the middle of his district. It's with a great deal of pleasure that I like to introduce to you a very young and articulate liberal and effective Congressman from the first congressional district representative, John Conyers.
Speaker 3 00:04:41 Thank you Mr. Mayor, to our next, uh, governor's old time Pharisee to our great wonderful governor G-Man and Williams going to the Senate to our magnificent congressional delegation. That's with me today, friends, Americans, Democrats, all I'm very, very pleased that this occasion would occur in the first congressional district we have here as our guests today. Of course, America's great prophetic leadership and the Kennedy tradition and are in the form of our great Senator, Robert Kennedy of New York. We're very, very pleased to have him with us, but what's more important. What's more important is going to be what we individually do here. After we leave this great university today, whether we're going to take the message of the democratic party and of the 89th Congress of the great society program, do each of our friends, each of our neighbors and I make America what it ought be. You know, I just heard a very great phrase that it seems to me sums up what brings all of us here. It was said a number of years ago by Thomas Wolf. So then to every man, his chance to every man, his golden shining opportunity to every man, his right to live, to work, to be himself and to become whatever thing his manhood and his courage would combine to make him, this is the promise of America. And this is the promise of all of our great candidates here today. Thank you very, very much.
Speaker 0 00:06:25 <inaudible>
Speaker 3 00:06:34 Thank you very much representative Conyers. And our next speaker has, as you know, in the last several months really electrified this state, there's a certain Republican candidate. That's going through the state. They're looking rather wistfully though at a home in Washington while he's doing that. Our next speaker has been battling to create really a better state in which to live and to work and to raise our families. This is an uphill fight, but you know that our next speakers I'm most courageous battler and he's articulated in a way that many candidates in years gone by have been unable to the real issues that confront all of us as citizens of this state. Indeed as Americans it's with a great deal of pleasure that I present now to you Michigan's own happy warrior the next governor of our state Zoltan ferrets. Thank you very, very much. Mayor Cavanaugh, Reverend clergy, sisters, governor Williams, our distinguished guests, Senator Bobby Kennedy, all the distinguished people I've been trying to keep up with, uh, Senator Kennedy all morning. That's why I've got a Kennedy haircut. Now it's pretty difficult to do actually I'm here representing our governor. He couldn't make this one here today.
Speaker 0 00:08:14 Um,
Speaker 3 00:08:17 Actually he tried to make it, but we came in and we'll run in full. Let me sell out there at metropolitan airport. Wait, but it's a real pleasure for me to be here seriously. And I'm not going to take much of your time because the Senator has very, very poignant remarks to make to you. I would say only that on behalf of all of the Democrats and all of the candidates that we have here, and I'm sure on behalf of all of the people of the state of Michigan, we welcome into our midst and outstanding American. A man, well kept to the family tradition of public service and a man who brings into the arena of politics. A breath of fresh air, a man who continually looks to the future, a man who approaches it with courage and with vigor and a man who has confidence and optimism in the future course of politics and a future course of America. Now I think that's the real message that, uh, Senator Kennedy is going to give us here today. And I'm very, very proud that I'm going to have an opportunity just as you to sit here and listen to a great American, thank you all so very much for coming. God bless you.
Speaker 0 00:09:25 <inaudible>
Speaker 3 00:09:36 Thank you very much. Soltan. I said a few moments ago, something that certainly, uh, probably bears some repetition and that is that today at this point in time in America, we need above all else. Men have a great vision and great leadership in the United States Senate. And I think here in Michigan, we're indeed most fortunate because we will have the opportunity on November the eighth to cast a vote for our next United States, Senator and behalf of a man who has demonstrated for many, many years, the outstanding vision and great qualities of leadership, which he obviously possesses. I don't have to repeat as many years of dedicated public service and the things that he was doing politically when they weren't too fashionable to be done. But I think that really, and truly the eyes of the country are on the state of Michigan. For what we do here will have a most profound impact upon not only our lives in Michigan, but upon the lives of many people throughout America.
Speaker 3 00:10:45 And I don't think we, as citizens of this state can afford either to let ourselves down or let this man down by not making sure that he is elected as our next United States. Senator it gives me a great deal of pleasure now to introduce to you the great candidate and the great Democrat G men and Williams, our next United, thank you very very much. Mayor Cavanaugh are honored and distinguished a guy. So my well interdose in the field mama, it's the next governor of the state of Michigan's out in, Ferron say Congressman Conyers and I was district where you are
Speaker 0 00:11:50 <inaudible>
Speaker 4 00:11:54 Members. Uh, they stayed administrative barred, Congressman filer candidates found out that my Kratz and friends while I must say mayor, that I'm glad that we did get on the platform together before they, uh, television, uh, cameras fighting on the same side instead of against each other. God bless you today. It's been tremendously exciting traveling with our guest of honor because Hey, it brings back to us an echo of something that way on Michigan felt very strong. And that was at 1960 day am. I know who was destined to become one of our greatest presidents pledge to the American people that Haywood get our country moving again. I knew, and I know that in the years that followed the United States mugged I had and every area of our society I know was that forward looking progressive attitude that made the blood of all Americans tangled and weigh on Michigan. Oh, had the opportunity of coming out early, do a spouse that candidacy of president Kennedy had the thrilling experience of working with our guest of honor.
Speaker 4 00:13:55 I know that you have been waiting long to hear him speak. So I'm not going to spend any further time except to say this. I had the rich opportunity and working in the state department doing work with our guest of honor when he was attorney general. And I can tell you that as the attorney general has, mine was not limited to the somewhat comprehensive problems of the department of justice, but he had a universal grasp of everything that was going on in our country and throughout the world. And even the African continent re saved has personal attention. I know as he went on to the Senate, he followed his interest in the freedom and development of people who were less fortunate than ourselves. I need comes here today and that great spirit of entrust and people and, and freedom. I ended a better life for all of the people, not only of the United States, but of the entire world. And so it's a great honor, a privilege to present to you because the whole world knows him. The Senator from New York are on their friend, Bobby Kennedy
Speaker 1 00:15:52 <inaudible>. Before we talk about the speech ed, was there anything in the introductions that really stood out to you? Um, besides the unfortunate fact that they introduced John Conyers as art,
Speaker 2 00:16:13 Right, right. Yeah. Um, the only thing that kind of struck me was just the joke, uh, that Kavanaugh made about, um, he and William Williams being on the same side, um, because they had run against one another for the democratic nomination to, to run for the Senate. And that actually I had forgot about. Um, but aside from that, it was pretty, it seemed like pretty standard fair, uh, in terms of the introduction and nice and short. Yeah, for sure.
Speaker 1 00:16:41 This was not a boring, you know, I think they kept everybody to like two minutes G-Man and Williams is a lot more boring than I expected. He'd be.
Speaker 2 00:16:48 Right, right. Yeah. Because yeah, people, you know, like I have to use stories about him and apparently, you know, people had a lot of affection for him as a politician, but as a speaker, it's fairly two dimensional,
Speaker 1 00:17:01 Where was Robert F. Kennedy in 1966? And he was, he was a Senator, but what was he doing at this point? I, you know, like w was he barnstorm
Speaker 2 00:17:09 Yeah. Barnstorming, I mean really the fall, September and October, right up to election day. That's what his main job was, was flying around the country. Um, in key States and key parts of States to try to campaign for, uh, democratic candidates. And he was in more in higher demand as a, uh, someone who was going to advocate for you than any other Democrat in the country. He was at the, really the peak of his popularity. Um, many of your listeners may know or remember that he was first elected just two years earlier and he didn't really win by an overwhelming margin when he was elected to the Senate in New York. But he really, uh, parlayed his election into, um, establishing himself as a national figure and started to create an image and a stature that could stand on its own, even apart from the legacy of his brothers. So he was really at the peak of his popularity, uh, at this moment when he comes to Detroit,
Speaker 5 00:18:10 You'll hear in the speech and I promise everybody we're going to play it, but I just wanted to give you the proper groundwork here. Um, you'll hear in the speech many times he refers to JFK, I assume then that was standard. He knew, he knew that they wanted to hear him talk about his slain brother hit the martyr.
Speaker 2 00:18:27 Yeah, very much so. Yeah. And you could really, you know, over the course of, um, you know, the, when he was running himself in 1964, up through 65, 66 gradually, and again, your listeners night-night could, uh, maybe feel like it's difficult to imagine how we would invoke him more than he already did. He talks about his brother less and less as time went on because he was again, sort of standing on his own two feet as a political figure. But, but certainly the, the currency of kind of the blessing of the murdered president was something that any, any Democrat would want to have, have had bestowed upon them if they were running for office in 1966. And, and Robert Kennedy knew that his, as well as anyone,
Speaker 5 00:19:12 Let's turn it over to Robert F. Kennedy. Again, this is October 29, 1966 at the UFD Memorial building. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Sell Williams, distinguished members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen. I'm delighted to be here. I, most of these trips as one travels around the country, one stands on one's feet and says something nice about somebody else. And usually it's so rushed. Nobody can say anything nice about me. So, uh, I liked that. I just wanted to say it was one of the highlights of my visit is I just sat there and I thought it was going to go on for 10 to 15 minutes. And I just want to thank Ali.
Speaker 5 00:20:19 One of the major reasons that I wanted to come to Michigan had been scheduled at an earlier date, but one of the major reasons I wanted to come to Michigan, uh, was because of my high regard for men and Williams. I knew about his record as governor of this state. And I think that, uh, perhaps now in 1966, that perhaps it's possible that people forget that they, that really, uh, what he did in this state, not just what he accomplished for the people of the state of Michigan, but really the fact that he was a forerunner of many of the social and progressive measures that were accepted in other States at later dates and accepted even by the federal government. And nobody contributed really more than more, nobody contributed more to the far thinking, farsighted thinking. And Sophie Williams did
Speaker 0 00:21:10 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:21:15 If we talk about taking an interest in the poor, we talk about it and taking an interest in those who are deprived. If we talk about taking an interest in those that are handicapped, or those who were discriminated against, or are we talk about making an effort to ensure that everybody has a decent education and everybody has a decent job. And I think we think of men and Williams. And when he was governor of the state of Michigan,
Speaker 0 00:21:39 <inaudible>,
Speaker 5 00:21:43 Don't come to the state of Michigan to tell people in the state of Michigan how to vote. But I do come to the state of Michigan to tell you how highly regarded soapy Williams is and how badly he's needed in the United States Senate.
Speaker 0 00:21:57 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:22:01 I can tell you the high regard that he is held in, uh, not just in your own state, because you know that yourself, but I can tell you the high regard he's held in Washington, DC, by those who work with him for three years, including myself. And I can tell you the high regard he's held in all over the United States, just because of the record that he's established, just because he stands for integrity. And because also he stands for somebody who gets things done. I work with them closely for the three years while I was attorney general. And he was in the state department, and I know how highly he was regarded by all those who were associated with them in the state department and the feeling of affection and admiration that president Kennedy had for men and Williams
Speaker 0 00:22:41 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:22:50 So I'm very pleased and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to come out here, to see my friend and see him just to nine days before he's elected as Senator from the state of mission
Speaker 0 00:23:00 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:23:06 And then I might add, I glad to see him, because it means that there'll be somebody who have less seniority than me in the United States. Senate was a Democrat where I sat in the United States Senate. You can turn around and see anyone. Okay. I need a, sort of a special pass, not just to get into the Senate, but get my desk. I have to bring my desk with me. So when men and Williams comes, we're going to trade places and I'll be able to wave to him in the back seat. So I'm delighted and I'm very, very pleased to have an opportunity to support. And a old associate name is well-known to us all Zoltan, just a quick interruption here. This is funny because just a few weeks ago, LBJ had mispronounced his name. <inaudible>
Speaker 5 00:24:06 that show. I'm pretty sure that's my dad's voice. I know it did. We were talking about the names on the cars. We went along and I told him how fortunate he was to have a name like that stood out. And I have to stumble over just an Auden with me is just an ordinary name. You know, that he's very likely going to be elected. Uh, he's going to be elected anyway, but he's very apt to be elected just because of his name, because everybody will know the name by the time. And, uh, did this, doesn't make me bitter. I have to work my own way up. And then I'm pleased because you learn a lot as you have to, uh, just start out and start out with nothing. And then gradually people recognize your ability. And your, I mean, if, as long as you brought the subject up, I just think of 1951, I was an attorney at the department of justice and then hard work and diligence and Tegrity and honesty and, and knowledge of the law. Finally, I became attorney general. RFK is funny and he's self-effacing.
Speaker 2 00:25:48 Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think it was, you know, it was surprising to a lot of folks who saw him in those kinds of events, as opposed to sound bites on television. Um, very much self-deprecating humor. And, and he really enjoyed that.
Speaker 5 00:26:07 It's a real Horatio Alger story. It's all of them and say is going to be the next governor of the state of Michigan. So I was delighted to have an opportunity to come out and see them and talk with them so that we can work together the state of New York and the state of Michigan as a tow me. And as we discussed, he's running, I suppose, the best run campaign across the United States because he's worked his campaign in such a way that he didn't peak too early. And, uh, he is like permitted all of this national attention on his opponent. And now he's come along himself. And one of the best known of all of the figures, not only in the state of Michigan, but really across the country, I think because really, because of the fact of his own record and his own career and the, all the effort that he's made here in the state of Michigan, there are a lot of people that would think that this was too difficult and too tough of race to take on, but it takes a man of encourage of coverage and a man of integrity and a man who believes in the future of his own state, which is Dalton Farron sake.
Speaker 5 00:27:20 As he's gone over the round, the state, he's talked about the problems of the future, not rested just in the past, but he's talked about the problems of the future and what can be done for the state of Michigan and what a difference the state of Michigan can make across this country and across this world. I think he should be very proud to have him as a candidate for governor. I also want to just say a brief word about some of the other candidates. If I may, a Frank Kelly with whom I work closely at the department of justice, do I, uh, if you just stand up Frank, so we could all get a chance to look, uh, while I was attorney general of the United States, I worked closely with him. Nobody was a harder on organized crime and nobody made more of an effort than Frank Kelly.
Speaker 5 00:28:10 And I just want to say how pleased Diane and John Brock, who was the council of the labor and education committee who's running for Lieutenant governor. And again, I don't think you have, because of the experience that he's had, that nobody there is anybody that knows about education knows more about education, knows more about the problems of labor knows the more about the social problems that are affecting this country than John Brock. So I'm very pleased that he's running and Jim Hare or your candidate for secretary of state, who I've been most pleased to spend the day with and Congresswoman Griffis who I've served with. And it was such a well known. I know just not only in the state of Michigan, but it was very not well-known in the Congress of the United States. And I'm very pleased to be with, with her today, Ellie, Farnam your Congressman.
Speaker 5 00:29:15 Who's also been one of those who's led the fight for all the progressive legislation. So I'm pleased to be with him and Billy Ford, who I spent the day with and John Connors, who we've also traveled with he's in real trouble this time. And I hope that you're going to work for them. They say he, his vote might be cut down to 85% and his family feels badly. So, and I also want to say one final word about Jim O'Hara with the well I've worked with closely, but, uh, and who I have the greatest respectful when we had problems and struggles about the civil rights legislation, 1961 62 and 63 64 and 65. There was nobody that was there and had better judgment about how to proceed, not only to introduce a bill, which would get a headline, but to get some legislation passed and even going prior to that time, he was one of the four or five Congressman works so closely with president Kennedy and labor legislation and boom, I think in the house of representatives, president Kennedy had the highest admiration. So I'm very delighted to be here with Jim O'Hara was Michigan more important politically then than it is?
Speaker 2 00:30:43 Boy, that is a good question because I think Detroit certainly was much more influential than because really those are the thinking about kind of the electoral pillars for presidential elections in the Midwest, Chicago and Detroit, they were, you know, what you had to have and huge, huge turnout in both of those cities. Um, and certainly mayor Daley, once he becomes a mayor in Chicago delivers that fairly consistently in Detroit it's, you know, not quite as consistent, um, and things will shift obviously in Detroit, uh, very significantly in the next year plus
Speaker 5 00:31:20 Riots happening in 1967. So I'm, and I'm delighted to be here. State of Michigan is a soapy Williams said state of Michigan was an early supporter of John Kennedy in 1968. And with your, uh, I saw so many people today, you know, so many friends who were strong supporters of, uh, John Kennedy prior to the time that it became popular empire to the time that it was acceptable and Sophie Williams and the Michigan delegation and Los Angeles stood up, stood like a rock and made a major difference in Los Angeles and thereafter made a major difference in carrying the state. So I'm very grateful to be back in the state of Michigan, Woodrow Wilson once said, what is use is a great political party, unless it has a great purpose. And I think that's really what we demonstrated in 1960. I don't think that president Kennedy or soapy Williams of the Democrats here in the state of Michigan came to the people of Michigan.
Speaker 5 00:32:26 And I came to the people of the United States and said, you follow us, you support the democratic party. And we have the answers to all the problems. None of all the difficulties that you're facing about employment, about race relations, about education, about Medicare, they're all going to disappear. If you elect a Democrat, if you elect a democratic president or elected democratic Congress or a democratic Senate, that's not what was said. President Kennedy came here as a United States Senator and the other members of the democratic party came to the people of the state of Michigan and came across the country and said not, we can answer all the problems, not that the problems will disappear, but they did say that we'll do something about them. First. We'll talk about the problems that affect this country. And then we'll start to deal with them. The president will deal with them and the Congress of the United States will deal with them. That was the promise that was made in the campaign of 1968. And that promise was kept
Speaker 0 00:33:19 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:33:27 I think sometimes as I travel around the country, now that people forget the great problems that face this country in 1958, 1959 and 1960, and the recession that was taking place, the difficulty that existed here in Detroit and the state of Michigan in the field of employment. And the fact that we didn't have any Medicare that we had, the people over the age of 65, lived out their lives and trepidation and concern about how they were going to pay their medical bills. Well, after a John Kennedy was elected president of the United States and we had a democratic Congress and a democratic Senate, and then continued so ably and so brilliantly by Lyndon Johnson in 1963. And when he was reelected in 1964, we now have a different country. We did pause Medicare so that our elderly people have that kind of assistance. We did pass federal aid to education where people thought that it wasn't possible because of the split between church and state between the state government and the federal government.
Speaker 5 00:34:22 We were able to pass some federal aid to education, which means such, it makes such a major difference here in the state of Michigan and really all across the country. We were able to face these major problems. President Kennedy said, when he went to the American people, I'm not satisfied. I'm not satisfied that we should be second in space, that we should look at the moon and realize that there was a Russian flag up there, but that there wasn't an American flag that we had to be to take second place to the Soviet union or enter any country in any area that the United States should be. First, he said to the American people, I'm not satisfied that we should be the slowest growing industrial nation in the world, that we should have such a high rate of, um, of, uh, unemployment. I think that here in the United States that we can do better and that the federal government can play a role and that the federal government can work with labor and can work with management and that this country can move again. And that we don't have to stand still. And we don't have to be status of satisfied with the status quo. And I think that's what happened under president Kennedy, the democratic party and Lyndon Johnson
Speaker 0 00:35:21 <inaudible>.
Speaker 5 00:35:32 But ladies and gentlemen, that didn't just happen. We didn't just pass that legislation. Just that legislation, all of it was fought on the floor of the house of representatives was opposed in the Senate of the United States, by the Republican party. They come at the, every time at election time and say, we're in favor of all of these programs. We're in favor of Medicaid. We're in favor of federal aid education. We're in favor of the, uh, policies to get our economy moving again. We're in favor of the space program, but if you look back and during the 1950s, they weren't saying that. And if you look at their record in the 1960s and the Congress has the last six years, you'll know, they didn't say that. And they voted a different way. That's why we need Democrats.
Speaker 5 00:36:22 And I can't believe, I can't believe the state of Michigan is going to vote the Republican party in, I can't believe you're going to vote for anybody, but Sophie Williams. I can't believe you're going to send a Republican to the Senate of the United States and offset all the good work that Phil Hart does that you'll have a Democrat there. That's voting who's going on the floor of the United States Senate and say, knees of the bills we want, this is the kind of legislation we want. And over on the other side of the aisle, you have a Republican who was saying, no, we don't want that. I think you want two Democrats and soapy Williams on the floor of the United States, Senator, who was fighting for that legislature.
Speaker 0 00:36:56 <inaudible>
Speaker 5 00:37:04 Just look at what are the Republicans saying now all across the country, in the state of Michigan, they have for federal aid education. Did they vote that way? Would you like to know how they voted? You won't be too shocked. Has anybody here got a Republican friend because we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but do you know what they did that democratic delegation led by these Demme fine Democrats are on this platform. The democratic delegation led the fight on the floor of the house of representatives, federal aid to education. Do you know where the Republicans were? They were on the other side, they were fighting against federal aid to education. They fought against it under president Kennedy. When he sent his legislation up, they fought against it. When president Johnson sent his legislation up. And if it wasn't for these Michigan Democrats and Democrats like them all over the country, we wouldn't have federal aid to education at the present time.
Speaker 5 00:38:04 Well damn that 12 democratic members of the house of representatives on the state of Michigan voted yes. For federal aid to education, the Republicans voted, no, I think that's terrible. Do you know what they did? And they, and the house generally, just to show you what the Republican party stands for. Republicans were 35 to 96, three to one against federal aid to education. And on Medicare, the Republican party in the house of representatives over the opposition of these Democrats who were all in favor of Medicare, the Republican party was 65 to 73 against Medicare and the house of representatives and they house housing, urban development. Again, the Republicans were unanimously. They Republicans for the, from the state of Michigan where you Nana mostly against the housing and urban development and the Democrats were unanimously in favor of it. And in the Republicans, generally in the house of representatives, only nine of them voted in favor of the department of HUD and 118 voted against the department of HUD. Nobody knows more than Jerry Kavanaugh. One of the outstanding mayors of the United States, nobody knows. Well, he knows better than he, how important this department is. And yet the Republicans fought against it when Jerry Kavanaugh came down and appeared before the congressional committee. And I might add no witness made a better impression on the Senate of the United States than did he
Speaker 0 00:39:42 <inaudible>
Speaker 5 00:39:47 Steph fought the problems of Detroit. He set forth the problems of the big cities over the period of the deck next decade. And the point that he's stressed again and again, and what she has to be realized and recognized all across the United States is that if the cities are going to move forward, if our urban development is going to take place is going to have to be a close working relationship with the federal government. And that's what the Republicans have failed to recognize. And that's why we need Sophie Williams in the United States Senate.
Speaker 0 00:40:12 <inaudible>
Speaker 5 00:40:17 All of these reasons. This is off the record on which the democratic party runs. This is what has been accomplished over the period of the last six years. But I don't come to you and say that you should support these Democrats because of this. I think it's important to know what a party stands for. I think it's important to know where a party is going to end up by what their record is. That's why I think he should support the Democrat, but even more importantly than that is what's going to happen in the future. The democratic party can not run for what has done in the past. The democratic party has to look to the future, the democratic party, if it's going to be true to its principles, represents those who are dissatisfied. The democratic party must be the dissatisfied. Those who feel that the Michigan, the United States has done well, but that it can do much, much better than it's done in the past
Speaker 0 00:41:03 <inaudible>
Speaker 5 00:41:09 Democratic party. The democratic party has to recognize our own problems, the problems of racist, living together, the problems of urban growth, the problems that still exist in the United States of poverty, the problems of our elderly people and our responsibility all over the globe to feel the giant agony of the world, and more like slaves to poor humanity, labor for public good. That's what Tennyson said and Ulysses, and that's what has to guide the democratic party, our own responsibility, all over the globe, whether it's in Southeast Asia or Africa or Latin America, people there as in the United States are dissatisfied when they can't lead a proper light. When they see that their children are not enough to eat or no schools to go to, I'll go to Northeast Brazil. As I have, and visit small villages there and realize that seven out of 10 children die before the age of one or visit East Africa as men and Williams has. And I have, and go to Tanzania and 97% of the people are illiterate or visit Ethiopia with a life expectancy is 35 years or where the average yearly income is $40 a year. You wouldn't be satisfied with that. I wouldn't be satisfied with that. The people that living in those parts of the world are not satisfied with that. And they are looking to the United States and we have to provide the leadership.
Speaker 5 00:42:39 And that's what the democratic party has to stand for. That's why I'm strong supporter of these Democrats on the platform today, because I think they've shown through their careers and through their efforts, through their compassion and through their courage, that that's what they stand for. But we look to the future, these other countries and others peoples look to us, we have to find answers and solutions to the problems that affect mankind all over the globe. Otherwise we are not true to the principles of our party. We're not true to the ideals of the United States. And I think that's what the democratic party will do. George Bernard Shaw once said, some people see things as they are and say, why I dream things that never were and say, why not? I think that's, what's going to guide the democratic party and Ben and Williams. Thank you very much. <inaudible>
Speaker 1 00:43:46 Sounds like, uh, at about 12 minutes into the speech, Kennedy starts his, his stump speech, like a recycled speech that he must have used in other places. So he, he does all the Michigan stuff. And then I just, from listening to it, you can hear where he's written in Michigan instead of whatever, Illinois, Chicago Poughkeepsie, you think that's right just for our listeners. It's the point where he starts talking. He starts with the Woodrow Wilson quote about, um, political parties.
Speaker 2 00:44:15 Yeah, definitely. Uh, like I said, he was, um, it was kind of a turnstile for him in terms of, of democratic events. And so yeah, heading into that section where he talks about the difference between the two parties and how the, you know, the Democrats want to invite debate on things. And yet they tend to get things done more than Republicans you hedge. And, uh, very much that was kind of a standard message that he, he, uh, delivered, um, along with kind of the lofty rhetoric about, you know, why he was proud to be a Democrat. And in other speeches, he would, he would talk about, um, you know, his brother and why he was proud to be part of the oldest party, uh, in the civilized world. Um, so yeah, that was definitely a jumping off point.
Speaker 1 00:45:00 Did you know, hearing him talk about the Democrats is looking to the future, uh, was that that's, you know, that's the, that'd be common now, was it common then? Is that how they were known?
Speaker 2 00:45:13 I would say so, you know, which is interesting because they had, they had been in power. Um, and so that, that was the perilous kind of, um, road to walk that you didn't in power, you are the status quo, and yet you're claiming to be the party that is continuing to push for change. Whereas the more natural argument is to say, well, change would be getting other folks elected, right. So it was, it was, um, you know, that was the Kennedy brand was always striving and pushing against, you know, doing the things that are hard going to the moon at all and all that sort of thing. So Kennedy was the best salesperson for that kind of message. But, um, obviously as things turned out, it wasn't, uh, you know, the message itself. Wasn't strong enough to take, you know, hold those majority
Speaker 1 00:46:01 Oil or alert. Um, G men and Williams loses his Senate race to Bob Griffin and Zoltan Farron. He loses his gubernatorial race to bill Milliken.
Speaker 2 00:46:12 The outcome of the election, um, was pretty eyeopening for a lot of democratic officials across the country, because if we talk about sort of wave elections and, um, the Republicans made pretty huge gains, uh, in Congress, both houses of Congress, I think they won like 47 seats in the house and picked up several sentences. They didn't take control of either house of Congress, but the Democrats had had huge majorities, um, for several years, uh, in both houses of Congress, they also picked up state houses. And so it was a real warning sign to Lyndon Johnson and to liberals across the country that something, something was going on, um, that was maybe beyond what might be expected in a midterm election where usually the party in power loses some seats. And, um, this was also, um, after a year where Linda Johnson had accomplished, you know, pretty much everything he said he would in terms of great society, legislation, social welfare legislation that dealt with education, um, medical care, Medicare, and, uh, um, a lot of legislation that further the war on poverty that he had started the year before.
Speaker 2 00:47:22 So he really had kind of the resume that you would expect that maybe he was a buck, the tide of the party and losing. So the other real X-Factor in terms of developments in 1965, the previous year was, um, really an urban rebellion in the watch section of Los Angeles, which lasted for four days and, and caused a tremendous amount of damage and, and loss slides. And so it was a real, um, the kind of event that made a lot of people who had been sympathetic, uh, but maybe not passionate about Johnson and the liberal agenda wonder why they passed all this legislation, but yet African-American seemed to be still really unhappy. Maybe we're not going in the right direction here. And so, um, it's the discussion of something that people started to call the backlash, which was basically, um, white folks who, uh, started to get angry about all the social legislation that was meant to deal with the historic inequality for people of color started to feel like, well, not only is this maybe not a good investment, um, where am I in all this? And so this election takes place kind of in the midst of that kind of a dynamic,
Speaker 1 00:48:38 It talks a lot about federal aid to education, Medicare and HUD were, were those new concepts at that point,
Speaker 2 00:48:45 The work, uh, which is interesting for us, you know, we've been listening to those kinds of debates, our, our whole lives, but all those things were new federal ed, the only federal aid to education before, um, the mid sixties, there had been been a bill that Eisenhower had, um, signed into law, which really revolved around science education in the midst of the space race and the arms race with the Soviet union during the cold war. But there was things got stickier with education in the mid sixties where, um, you know, would federal funding critic go to, uh, religious parochial schools? How would that be handled? Um, so, so that was new. Um, and certainly, um, uh, federal involvement in, uh, medical care was new. So Medicare and Medicaid were brand new programs and, and those had always been, uh, stridently resisted, um, in, in Congress. Um, and so, so that was new. Um, and HUD was a brand new agency, uh, at that point, um, in the, in the mid sixties. And so federal involvement in things like housing policy, um, was new too.
Speaker 1 00:49:53 Who was the speech for? Was it, was it a pep rally for, um, you know, uh, a democratic officials? It's, it's not a giant crowd who's there.
Speaker 2 00:50:02 Yeah, no, that's a great question because it's kind of multiple constituencies, certainly the, the real benefit of, of Robert Kennedy being at your, that was it, it was going to get national news coverage. I mean, wire services would carry everything that he did. So even though this was a Michigan election, this got national coverage, you know, there were, I'm sure there were, um, snippets of the speech, um, in papers across the country. Um, so, so there is a national constituency to it. There's also, certainly what's going on is immediately local as possible in terms of, um, the Detroit voters and trying to get out the vote. Um, but also statewide where the whole state was more in play than the city of Detroit certainly was in terms of, um, you know, the two parties battling it out. I mean, the city of Detroit was solidly democratic, but obviously the statewide Republicans were, were more than competitive.
Speaker 2 00:50:52 Um, and we're regular, um, you know, uh, election victors. So he was speaking to a lot of people. And one of the things that was really interesting to me, and again, it's fairly represented is, um, speaking at a Catholic university, um, university of Detroit, like, you know, many major cities across the country has a significant Catholic university. It's the intellectual center or Catholics in the, in the state oftentimes. Um, but what oftentimes got discussed, especially in the sixties, it kind of the high tide of, of Vatican too, was social welfare kinds of issues because Catholics were just identified with that. So a lot of what, um, your listeners will hear in the speech is, uh, what the candidates contributed on issues related to social welfare.
Speaker 1 00:51:41 Well, I want to thank you for joining us, and I want to alert our listeners that I'm hopeful that when you finish your book on Dick Gregory, uh, that you will join us again because I've got tape of Dick Gregory.
Speaker 2 00:51:54 I would love to, I would love to and will last even more for sure that topic <inaudible>,
Speaker 1 00:52:14 We've been listening to Robert F. Kennedy speaking at the university of Detroit Memorial building on October 29th, 1966. Our guide was ed Schmidt and associate professor of history at the university of Wisconsin, Parkside and Kenosha. He's the author of president of the other America, Robert F. Kennedy and the politics of poverty back yesterday is produced, written, recorded, and directed by John Raby. That's me. Our theme music is performed by the van Dyke parks and our logo is made by Michael Yulan cut additional support from Bermudez projects in Los Angeles. Join me soon for the next episode of call back yesterday. Thanks for listening.
Speaker 2 00:52:51 <inaudible>.