Eyewitness to History: Robert F. Kennedy visits Scranton

Eyewitness To History

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The recent recommendation of parole for Sirhan Sirhan who is serving a life sentence for the killing of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 is a hot-button issue, we look back to 1964 when Robert F. Kennedy was US Attorney General and visited our area.

US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy touched down at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on Tuesday, March 17, 1964, St. Patrick’s day. It was his first major public appearance since the assassination of his brother President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963.

The first stop was here on Prospect Avenue in South Scranton for the dedication of an elementary school in honor of his late brother.

“Ladies and gentlemen the Attorney General of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy,” said James J. Walsh who was on the Scranton School Board.

“Mister Walsh, ladies and gentlemen, and my friends my brother when he used to campaign, use to go around to communities, sometimes they’d let the schools out. And he was running for office and he’d use to say to the young people, always remember who got you out of school. Well, I’m delighted to see all of you and I’m very happy to be here. This is an area that is very close to my brother’s heart. So I’m delighted to be here. I’m delighted that you named a school after my brother. There was nothing really that was closer to his hearty than young people,” said US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

RFK stopped at both the Greater Pittston & Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinners. Then at the former Hotel Casey in Downtown Scranton, he spoke about the plight of Irish immigrants, and the discrimination that existed at this time in 1964, the united states.

“Our pride and the progress of the Irish is chilled by the tragic irony that it has not been progress for everyone. We know that it has not been progress for all, even here in our own country. It is ironic that in 1964, in the united states of America, the department of justice is devoting much of its time in securing these our comparable basic rights for some Americans to whom they are denied,” said US Attorney General Kennedy.

A little more than four years later, on June 6, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy, then a Democratic candidate for president, died in Los Angeles after being shot.

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