Excerpts from Kennedy's speeches

His first Senate floor speech, on the Civil Rights Act, April 9, 1964

“My brother was the first president of the United States to state publicly that segregation was morally wrong. His heart and his soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.”

Eulogy of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, June 8, 1968

“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.”

Healthcare address to Democratic National Convention, Dec. 9, 1978

“One of the most shameful things about modern America is that in our unbelievably rich land, the quality of healthcare available to many of our people is unbelievably poor, and the cost is unbelievably high.”

Concession speech to the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 12, 1980

“Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap-heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together. … For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Speech against the invasion of Iraq, Sept. 27, 2002


“The evidence does not take us there; events do not compel us there — and both the war against terrorism and our wider interests in the region and the world summon us to a course that is sensible, graduated and genuinely strong — not because it moves swiftly to battle, but because it moves resolutely to the objective of disarming Iraq — peacefully if possible, and militarily if necessary.”

Endorsement of Barack Obama for president, Jan. 28, 2008

“I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future. My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey — to have the courage to choose change. It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.”

Speech to the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 25, 2008

“For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope. And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality healthcare as a fundamental right and not a privilege. … And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”