About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope"

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

Before we hear from Kerry Kennedy talk about her new book, Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope, I’d like to invite you all to return to the National Archives for our amazing celebration of Independence. Our celebration begins the weekend of June 30 with chocolate tastings and musical performances on the Constitution Avenue steps.

Then on Tuesday, July 3, at noon, you can hear from two Founding Fathers in person. Joseph Doyle and Steven Edenbo will portray John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and take questions from the audience.

On July 4th itself, we start the festivities with a free T-shirt giveaway for the first 1,000 guests. Then we’ll have more music, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, and family activities all day. Get the full program in our online Calendar of Events at Archives.gov.

Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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Robert Kennedy devoted his life to public service. His actions as Attorney General and United States Senator are well documented in the holdings of the National Archives and the John F. Kennedy Library.

Just this month we marked the 50th anniversary of his death and recalled the feelings of shock and disbelief that swept over the nation in June 1968. Amid that sense of loss, however, there was also a realization that Kennedy’s message and legacy reached far and wide across the country and across many peoples.

How widespread that influence was could be seen immediately along the train tracks that carried Kennedy’s funeral train from New York to Washington, DC. The foreword to Ripples of Hope opens with scenes of that slow train procession. In the photographs of the thousands of mourners who lined the tracks we vividly see how deeply Kennedy had moved people from many walks of life.

Kerry Kennedy’s new book shows how Kennedy's words, life, and values have influenced their lives, choices, and actions of her interview subjects over the past 50 years and continue to inspire people today.

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Kerry Kennedy is president of Robert. F. Kennedy Human Rights and founder of RFK Compass. She has worked on a range of issues, including child rights, child labor, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, ethnic violence, the environment, and freedom of expression.

She is the author of New York Times best-seller Being Catholic Now and Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World. Speak Truth has grown to include a photography exhibit, a play by Broadway playwright Ariel Dorfman, an award-winning website, a documentary film, and an education toolkit.

A graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School, she received the Social Activism Award from the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates along with many other awards and honorary degrees.

Our moderator for today's discussion is Peter Edelman, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and poverty law and is faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. He has also served in all three branches of government. He was a Legislative Assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Issues Director for Senator Edward Kennedy's 1980 Presidential campaign. During President Clinton’s first term he was Counselor to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and then Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Before working for Robert Kennedy, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and before that for Judge Henry J. Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kerry Kennedy and Peter Edelman.