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April 4, 1968: Death, difference, and dialogue. Robert F. Kennedy announces the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Kristine Warrenburg
Abstract:
Robert Kennedy's announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in an Indianapolis urban community that did not revolt in riots on April 4, 1968, provides one significant example in which feelings, energy, and bodily risk resonate alongside the articulated message. The relentless focus on Kennedy's spoken words, in historical biographies and other critical research, presents a problem of isolated effect because the power really comes from elements outside the speech act. Thus, this project embraces the complexities of rhetorical effectivity, which involves such things as the unique situational context, all participants (both Kennedy and his audience) of the speech act, aesthetic argument, and the ethical implications. This version of the story embraces the many voices of the participants through first hand interviews and new oral history reports. Using evidence provided from actual participants in the 1968 Indianapolis event, this project reflects critically upon the world disclosure of the event as it emerges from those remembrances. Phenomenology provides one answer to the constitutive dilemma of rhetorical effectivity that stems from a lack of a framework that gets at questions of ethics, aesthetics, feelings, energy, etc. Thus, this work takes a pedagogical shift away from discourse (verbal/written) as the primary place to render judgments about the effects of communication interaction. With a turn to explore extra-sensory reasoning, by way of the physical, emotional, and numinous, a multi-dimensional look at public address is delivered. The rhetorician will be interested in new ways of assessing effects. The communication ethicist will appreciate the work as concepts like answerability, emotional-volitional tone, and care for the other, come to life via application and consideration of Kennedy's appearance. For argumentation scholars, the interest comes forth in a re-thinking of how we do argumentation. And the critical cultural scholar will find this story ripe with opportunities to uncover the politics of representation, racialized discourse, privilege, power, ideological hegemony, and reconciliation. Through an approach of multiple layers this real-life tale will expose the power of the presence among audience and speaker, emotive argument, as well as the magical turn of fate which all contributes the possibility of a dialogic rhetoric.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: THE INTRODUCTION: THE STORY: APRIL 4, 1968: SCENE, SITUTION, WORDS, AND BEYOND ...........................................................................1 Robert F. Kennedy Hits the Campaign Trail .......................................................2 A Tragic Turn ...........................................................................................2 The News ..................................................................................................4 The Decision .............................................................................................9 17 th & Broadway: A Dark & Stormy Night ........................................................11 Kennedy Arrives on Site .........................................................................14 Kennedy Takes the Stage ........................................................................17 Crowd Responds Nonviolently ...............................................................26 The Power of Kennedy’s Appearance: What the Crowd Remembers .................27 The Conclusion ....................................................................................................31

CHAPTER TWO: THE PROBLEM: MULTIFACTED ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONTRIBUTION TOWARD RHETORICAL EFFECTIVITY ...................................34 The Problem: Accounting for the Multifaceted Effects ......................................35 Kennedy’s Announcement of King’s Assassination: A Review of Literature ...40 Biography ................................................................................................42 Words/Arguments ...................................................................................50 The Conclusion ...................................................................................................57

CHAPTER THREE: THE METHOD: PHENOMENOLOGY AS METHOD: ACCOUNTING FOR CONTEXT IN ARGUMENTATION ........................................61 Immediacy, Risk, and Fusion Found in the Rhetorical Situational Context .......62 Traditional Views of Argument and the Repression of Multimodality ..............69 Context and Constitutive Effects ........................................................................73 Accounting for Multimodal Contexts .................................................................74 The Multiple Modes of Reasoning: Conceptualizing the Tasks at Hand ...........76 The Logical Mode of Reasoning.............................................................77 The Visceral Mode of Reasoning ...........................................................79 The Emotional Mode of Reasoning ........................................................80 The Kisceral Mode of Reasoning ...........................................................82 The Conclusion: Phenomenology & Multi-Modal Reasoning ...........................84

CHAPTER FOUR: THE VISCERAL: POLTICS IN A RACED SPACE: VISCERAL REASONING IN CRITICAL COMMUNICATION .....................................................86 The Racial Contract ............................................................................................87 The Body: Visceral Argumentation, Risk, and Impact .......................................92 Visceral Argumentation and Bod(ies) at Risk ........................................93 Kennedy’s Body: A Rhetorical Enactment of Visceral Argumentation ..........................................................................97 The Space: 17 th & Broadway ............................................................................100

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Broadway Christian Center: An Unsafe Neighborhood .......................102 Spatial Subjectivity: The Visceral Terms of Racial Demarcation ........104 Suspending the Terms of the Racial Contract: A Visceral Interruption ...........109 The Subjective Scene: A Militant, Marked, and Supportive Crowd ....110 Rumors Surmount and Racial Tensions Build: The Physical Fear is Real ......................................................................116 Breaking the Racialized Terms of Visceral Reasoning ........................120 The Visceral Impact: Subjective Space and Embodied Rhetoric .....................124

CHAPTER FIVE: THE EMOTIONAL: A COMMON TRADEGY: THE RHETORICAL POWER OF EMOTIONAL REASONING..................................................................126 A Common Tragedy: Kennedy Connects to His Audience with Emotional Reciprocity ......................................................................................132 Locating Sentiment through the Physical Manifestations of Emotion .............141 Genuine Gestures ..................................................................................144 Kennedy Cries: Facial Expressions and Visceral Emotions .................145 Emotions Embedded in Kennedy’s Voice: Rate, Pauses, Tone............147 The Gasp! An Emotional Reaction .......................................................148 A Peaceful Disposition: The Indianapolis Audience is Calm ...........................152 The Conclusion: The Power of Emotional Reasoning on Rhetorical Effects ...156

CHAPTER SIX: THE KISCERAL: ETHICAL REASONING THROUGH KISCERAL CONNECTIVITY IN THE DIALOGIC MOMENT ....................................................160 The Ethical Argument: Using Levinas to Expand on Kisceral Reasoning .......162 Levinasian Phenomenology ..................................................................164 Responding to the Call: An Intersubjective Risk of Immediacy ..........166 Intersubjective Responsibility & Transcendence ..................................170 Death, Canonization, and Memory: The Rhetorical Implications of Shifting Grief ........................................................................................174 Levinasian Death & A Call of Legacy ..................................................175 The Martyred King ...............................................................................177 A Decorous Occasion: A Grieving Community ...............................................182 The Conclusion: The Trace of Kisceral Reasoning ..........................................185

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE CONCLUSION: DIALOGIC DIMENSIONS OF KENNEDY’S ANNOUNCMENT: AUTHENTIC CONNECTION IN THE SITUATIONAL MOMENT ........................................................................................189 A Dialogic Rhetoric: Using Phenomenology to Understand April 4, 1968 .....192 Rhetoric and Phenomenology: A Likely Pair? .....................................192 Dialogic Rhetoric: A Philosophical Account ........................................195 Situational Context and Immediate Claims ..........................................197

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Locating Dialogue in a Rhetorical Approach to Argumentation ..........198 April 4, 1968: Exposing Dialogic Rhetoric in Public Address ........................203 Dialogic Rhetoric Involves Risk: The Visceral ....................................205 Dialogic Connectivity and Sentimental Embodied Rhetoric: The Emotional .......................................................................................209 Traces of Ethics in Dialogic Rhetoric: The Kisceral ............................214 A Strategic vs. Tactical Rhetoric ......................................................................218 Kennedy is His Whiteness ....................................................................221 RFK: Not a Typical Politician ..........................................................................226 17 th & Broadway: Not a Typical Audience ......................................................229 The Conclusion .................................................................................................235

ENDNOTES .................................................................................................................239 Chapter One: The Introduction .........................................................................239 Chapter Two: The Problem ...............................................................................246 Chapter Three: The Method ..............................................................................249 Chapter Four: The Visceral ...............................................................................253 Chapter Five: The Emotional ............................................................................261 Chapter Six: The Kisceral .................................................................................268 Chapter Seven: The Conclusion........................................................................274

BIBLIOGRAPHY .........................................................................................................282

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Chapter One The Introduction: The Story April 4, 1968: Scene, Situation, Words, and Beyond

Political campaigning is what brought Robert Kennedy to Indianapolis on April 4, 1968; however, mere chance and what some have called a miracle placed him in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods of the city to relay the horrific news that the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated. However, unlike other U.S. cities, Indianapolis remained calm in spite of King’s assassination. An event of such political, cultural, rhetorical, and historical magnitude deserves closer examination. To reveal the deeper meanings of this rich narrative is to look closer at a part of our cultural history when one U.S. city chose peace over violence. The public memory of this event is captured in an array of individual oral histories, newspaper reports, biographies, historical narratives, interviews, academic reports, audio renditions, visual documentaries, etc., to name a few. Collectively, these sources work to provide the contextual force of multilayered sentimental argumentation, which, as we will see, is sparked in the moment of most terrible times. The story that lies in wait provides an opportunity to capture trials of conscience by giving insight into the tensions of tragedy. Particular attention will be paid to the details of that night retained from memories of actual participants. Thus, we return to this story looking closely at the shift in occasion as Kennedy heard, for the first time, that King had been shot.

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Robert F. Kennedy Hits the Campaign Trail After waiting for hours, Indianapolis community members and campaign staffers alike were expecting more of the animated, humorous Robert Kennedy who had appeared only hours before at Notre Dame University in South Bend and Ball State University in Muncie. 1 “April the fourth was an eventful day because I think it was the first day that the campaign really kicked off in Indiana,” recalls Jim Tolan, national Kennedy advance man, who had been in the Hoosier state since April 1 st finalizing the details of the senator’s visit. 2 While working the campaign trail in the 1968 presidential primary, Sen. Kennedy asserted the message that most Americans desire reasonable thought and decent actions. There was little resistance to the Vietnam War among the more traditional and conservative Hoosier voters; thus, the campaign concentrated on capturing the ethnic votes of the region since Kennedy’s anti-war position would most likely not gain traction. His strategy to capture ethnic votes was dramatized by an April 4 th appearance in an urban Indianapolis neighborhood, an area frequently referred to by city newspapers as a ghetto. 3 Following his two campus visits, Kennedy traveled on a chartered plane to Indianapolis that same day. An outdoor rally was scheduled for that evening on 17 th & Broadway, an area selected for its weak voter registration.

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While all of the campaign events began with similar enthusiasm, only this rally in Indianapolis on April 4th would witness the tragedy that would unfold. A Tragic Turn In a cold shift, Kennedy’s vision of hope and reconciliation was challenged that same day in Memphis, Tennessee where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was supporting

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striking sanitation workers through his work with the Poor People’s Campaign. King’s presence in Memphis was part of his nonviolent efforts to promote justice for scores of African American poor in cities throughout the United States. King and his compatriots abandoned that day’s agenda to attend a dinner at the home of local minister, Samuel Kyles. A few minutes before six o’clock, King decided to step out onto his second-floor balcony when one shot exploded and shattered his jaw. The block fell to an eerie quiet. King was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at five minutes past seven. 5 Rioting and racial disturbances exploded across the country the night of King’s death and continued for the next two days in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Chicago, as well as in over a hundred smaller cities and towns. King’s assassination spread shock and rage across the country. King had brought revolutionary tactics of peace to the forefront of social movements across the world. Paradoxically, his death elicited derision and destruction from those same citizens he urged towards peaceful resolution. 6 Cities burned and people raged. Racial division hit the streets in fervent form. Hundreds of U.S. cities were surrounded by National Guard troops as fires erupted and looters took to the streets. President Johnson quickly moved Federal troops into the nation’s capital. Newspapers reported that over 10,000 federal troops were called into action. In Chicago, over a hundred people were arrested in connection to the riots and over 200 people were treated for injuries. Memphis also fell victim to racial violence. Over twenty-five fire bombings were reported to have exploded in Memphis the night of King’s assassination. 7

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The News At Ball State, following a heckler, Kennedy was questioned by an African American student concerned about the willingness of white America to really address issues of race and poverty. “There were,” Kennedy said, “extremists on both sides of the issue.” But, he added, “Most people want to do the decent thing.” 8 Concurrently, an alternative answer was being played out in Memphis. Leaving Ball State for the Hoosier capital, Kennedy was sitting aboard his chartered plane when he received the startling news that King had been shot. New York Times reporter Johnny Apple told him. Kennedy “sagged. His eyes went blank,” recalled Apple. 9 Kennedy was distraught, remembering what he told the young black student only moments before. “You know, it grieves me,” Kennedy said to Newsweek reporter, John J. Lindsay, who was also on the short flight to Indianapolis. “I just told that kid [that white people want to do the decent thing] and then walk out and find out some white man has just shot their spiritual leader.” 10 Before more details were available, the plane took off. Kennedy instructed Fred Dutton, one of his assistants, to find out two things immediately upon arrival at Weir Cook Airport in Indianapolis. What was King’s condition, Kennedy wanted to know, and what was the state of the African American neighborhood (17 th & Broadway) in which he was scheduled to speak. 11 “After I had heard that Dr. King was shot, I was in touch with the campaign headquarters in Washington D.C.,” recalls Jim Tolan. “I believe it was in that conversation or immediately prior there to that it was confirmed that Dr. King was dead.”

12 Such news triggered curious questions, seeped with moral pungency, as to what

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Kennedy’s next move should be. There are several hundred eager, anxious individuals waiting for Kennedy to show up in inner city Indianapolis. Tolan continues, The question then came, what should the candidate do that evening. I have a note here from that night which I wrote to myself, which basically said that Washington was suggesting that everything be cancelled out of respect for Dr. King and that a statement should be issued along those lines. To be sure that there was no indication given that there was any concern about the security of Robert Kennedy. This was suggested to be cancelled solely out of respect for Dr. King. And the plane landed and I went on board and basically confirmed that Dr. King was dead, told the Senator what the people in Washington had thought. It was decided to cancel the festive opening of the headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. And the question then arose—what about the rally at 17 th & Broadway? And the rally at 17 th & Broadway was unique in a sense that it was a predominately, if not all, black neighborhood. There was quite a bit of poverty there. Quite a bit of depressed area and should the Senator go there. I can remember either the Senator or Fred Dutton asking me, “What's it like down there now?” And I had just been on the phone with the person who was down at 17 th & Broadway and he told me that it was quiet, there was nothing eventful. And so I relayed that and the Senator…didn't want a lot of police, very quiet, one or two cars instead of the usual. And that's what it was. I think there was maybe one or two police cars. And it was no more than three regular cars that went down there. There was some press obviously, but it was very quiet, there was no horns, there were no sirens blowing. It was just a very quiet ride down there and approach to where the rally was going to be. 13

As Dutton hurried to the airport police office to make several calls, Kennedy waited aboard the plane, scribbling some notes and undoubtedly questioning whether he should continue with his visit to the urban community. When Dutton returned with the news, it was dreadful; King was dead. As for the situation in the neighborhood in which he was to speak—everything was calm. The news of the assassination had not reached the residents yet. Bob Gigerich, a Kennedy campaign volunteer, and the driver scheduled

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to pick up Ethel, Kennedy’s wife, recalls the shift in the immediate situation that night when he arrived at Weir Cook airport expecting a routine pick-up: We went out and the turmoil was already going on. We knew… something was wrong. I think by that point in time, by the time we got out there, we knew Dr. King had been shot, then when we got to the airport, there was police everywhere, which was very unusual…I heard the conversation start that Dr. King was dead and then I heard the police telling the Kennedy people, the staff people that they didn't want them to go up to the speech. There was an argument, not violent or anything, but there was just a disagreement on whether they should go or not. The police were fairly firm in the conversations I heard. They did not want Robert or anybody up there. By that time, there were already folks there, Councilman Forestal was there and some others, Commissioner Cantwell and so on. 14

Ten minutes after his plane landed, Kennedy emerged and made a brief statement to less than 200 people at Weir Cook Airport. 15 [Martin Luther King] dedicated himself to justice and love between his fellow human beings. He gave his life for that principle, and I think it’s up to those of us who are here – fellow citizens, public officials and those of us in government – to carry out that dream, to try to end the divisions that exist so deeply within our county, to remove the stain of bloodshed from our land. Kennedy’s remarks on the airport runway indicate that, in the few minutes since he learned of King’s death, he adjusted his rhetoric to fit an urgent situation and addressed the audience: 16

The mood of the newspaper reporters and supporters gathered to welcome Kennedy to the Hoosier capital shifted to one of upset and alarm. Gigerich remembers: He was walking back towards the plane and this discussion continued…The police were getting fairly firm and somewhat loud about he didn't need to go up there. It was a problem. There were going to be problems if he went up there and Robert said I can go up there with my family and go to sleep in the street and no one would bother me. If they would bother you, then you're the one with the problem. At that point in time, he headed back to the plane and I

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believe he went on the plane. Later on, they came out and the motorcade started. We were going to the speech, and we got to the speech. Ethel never got out of the car. As we were pulling in, staff come over and said take Ethel back to the hotel and stay with her until the Senator gets back there, which I did. 17

In difference to Tolan’s account, Gigerich’s recollection as the driver outside looking in reveals that the decision to continue forward with the rally was not as quickly decided as the campaign advance man’s memory lends. Rather, there is a shift in attitude of the campaign staff’s willingness to travel to the site and a definite concern for safety of the Senator and his wife. “During this whole period of exchange with everyone, I don't think Mrs. Kennedy said over five words.” Gigerich continues, As Robert put her in the car, she said something to him and I believe she kissed him and then when we got back to the hotel, she was concerned about him and whether he was going to be all right up there. We were all saying he'll be fine, there’s people around, he's going to be okay. 18

Ultimately the safety of Kennedy was in the forefront of everyone’s minds. The physical fear was real. Kennedy was warned not to go. Gigerich resumes his account of the situation upon Kennedy’s arrival at the airport and reflects on some reasons why Kennedy’s safety was of concern. His account acknowledges that Kennedy, even under regular political rallying circumstances, was a human being capable of physical injury and vulnerable to visceral impulse. Crowds often sought to grab at, touch, and pull on Kennedy’s body out of the excitement of being in his presence. It was this intimate relationship between crowd and candidate that made Gigerich worry that the excitement could turn to fury and that the physical attraction between Kennedy and his supporters may possibly shift to violence.

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Though Gigerich puts forth that his fear was his own, others such as Tolan and the Indianapolis police officials also warned Kennedy not to continue forward with his appearance. Such warnings evidence that the physical fear was real and that Kennedy’s body would be at risk in undertaking a decision to go forth into the racialized space of the inner city neighborhood. “I do remember the police feeling very strongly that you shouldn't go down there,” Tolan explains: And they expressed their view and the fact that they felt they were responsible for our safety and having that responsibility, they can't let him go down there. And it became clear in a very short time that he was going and they would nevertheless go with us down there. There wasn't any major confrontation. They were doing their job as they could do best and the candidate just saw it differently. 19

The debate over Kennedy’s safety stretched from the airport runway to the Democratic headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. Here several democratic representatives, Kennedy campaign staff members, Indianapolis community members, and families of the representatives were waiting on the east side of Indianapolis where Kennedy was scheduled to stop prior to his rally at 17 th & Broadway. The news of King’s death was spreading across the Hoosier city. “I learned of Dr. King's death when I was at the Democratic Headquarters on West Washington Street right off the circle,” recalls Lloyd Milliken, the Democratic Precinct Committeeman at the time. “We were all there waiting on Senator Kennedy to come in and speak that evening, and we learned of what had happened...There was of course a great debate.” 20 Milliken, along with Jerome Forestal, was among the democratic representatives gathering at the Headquarters before traveling to the site. At that time, Indianapolis had a Republican Mayor and a mainly Republican administration.

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Forestal was an exception and served as one of the three elected Democrats on the City Council. 21 Milliken continues his recollection,

[W]e were there waiting on Senator Kennedy to arrive, and that’s when we learned of what happened in Memphis when Dr. King was killed. I was not one of the Democratic Party leaders; I was a fairly young lawyer in those days. There was a great debate among the leaders there...Whether or not the speech will go on, whether or not Kennedy should go to 17 th & Broadway to give that speech. I wasn't a part of the inner circle that made the decision, but I think the real decision was made by Bobby Kennedy, that he was going to give that speech. 22

Milliken recalls that there was definite contention about whether or not Kennedy should go, but he also remembers that Kennedy was involved in making the final decision. Such acknowledgment previews the ethical implications of Kennedy’s response to the immediate situational shift. It is important to realize that Kennedy could have rejected his call to civil service and canceled his trip into the predominantly African American neighborhood as he was advised to do by city officials, law enforcement officers, his campaign staff, and family members. Due to the rise of violent racial outbreaks across the United States – even in the absence of such a tragedy as King’s assassination – several indicated that they feared for the safety of Kennedy’s life if he were to continue on with his trip.

The Decision Redirecting focus to Kennedy’s role in the decision, Forestal remembers Kennedy’s phone call to the Kennedy campaign headquarters. The front man for the Indianapolis campaign office called Forestal and others to the back room of the

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Washington Street office, “Hey, come here,” he said, “I want to talk to you.” Forestal remembers, “So, we went in the back room and he told us that Dr. King died, and we said, “Wow! What do we do now?” 23 Such a reaction indicates the suddenness of the news and how the situation of Kennedy’s appearance was changing. The front man continued, “You can continue and go on up there [to 17 th & Broadway], or – [pausing] what do you think?” 24 Such pause for reflection upon whether or not the other Democratic representatives should continue forward with meeting Kennedy at the pre- planned rally is illustrative of the gravity of the situation. Forestal recalls being asked what he thought about the security and threats received and remembers thinking, “Well, I tell you what, if I were the Senator, I think I would just stay right on the plane and continue on down to Memphis to be at the beside for Coretta.” 25 Kennedy, on the phone to the headquarters, responded to the warnings to cancel his appearance with urgent concern for those waiting for him at 17 th & Broadway. Forestal overheard Kennedy’s conversation: Forestal’s memory aligns with many other accounts in which it was deemed that Kennedy would be safer if he canceled his trip to the inner city neighborhood. And the Senator shoots back, that’s the worst – that’s the worst thing that he could do. Because he [Kennedy] thought that he wanted to come into this community and he said that “If I didn’t appear tonight or show up at something…They would never forgive me. 26

Such a response indicates that Kennedy stood by his choice to be accountable to those expecting him. In turn, the physical risk remained secondary to the obligatory call, which showcases issues of political answerability, ethical response, and responsibility. Not long after that the Senator announced his decision.

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“He says, we’re going. We're going down there, we'll cancel the opening of the headquarters,” recalls Tolan. “It was decided that Ethel would go to the hotel directly and that this would be a very low key event.” 27

The decision to bypass the headquarters but follow through with his commitment to people gathered at 17 th & Broadway is reflective of Kennedy’s concern for the urgent yet decorous situation of King’s assassination. Furthermore, such a move to cancel the political reception but show up to the inner city neighborhood could be viewed as rejection of racialized codes as Kennedy turned away from the powerful, safe space and embraced the negated, marginalized locality. The changing mood that night shifted from one of political excitement to a moment of fear, shock, and sadness. 17 th & Broadway: A Dark and Stormy Night Forestal and some other elected Democratic officials traveled in a motorcade to the site. “I’ll never forget when we turned off of 16 th Street, to go down Broadway, the minute we turned the corner, you could see all the – they had these big spotlights up in the air,” recollects Forestal, “you know, and this huge, throng of people. I thought, oh my God, you know.” 28 They were directed to go on down to the site and “stall” the audience because “…he [Kennedy] needed time to re-do his speech.” 29 As the crowd formed, waiting in anticipation of Kennedy’s arrival, several remember that, “[t]he weather was just gruesome, just cold, and wet, and dark.”

Full document contains 302 pages
Abstract: Robert Kennedy's announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in an Indianapolis urban community that did not revolt in riots on April 4, 1968, provides one significant example in which feelings, energy, and bodily risk resonate alongside the articulated message. The relentless focus on Kennedy's spoken words, in historical biographies and other critical research, presents a problem of isolated effect because the power really comes from elements outside the speech act. Thus, this project embraces the complexities of rhetorical effectivity, which involves such things as the unique situational context, all participants (both Kennedy and his audience) of the speech act, aesthetic argument, and the ethical implications. This version of the story embraces the many voices of the participants through first hand interviews and new oral history reports. Using evidence provided from actual participants in the 1968 Indianapolis event, this project reflects critically upon the world disclosure of the event as it emerges from those remembrances. Phenomenology provides one answer to the constitutive dilemma of rhetorical effectivity that stems from a lack of a framework that gets at questions of ethics, aesthetics, feelings, energy, etc. Thus, this work takes a pedagogical shift away from discourse (verbal/written) as the primary place to render judgments about the effects of communication interaction. With a turn to explore extra-sensory reasoning, by way of the physical, emotional, and numinous, a multi-dimensional look at public address is delivered. The rhetorician will be interested in new ways of assessing effects. The communication ethicist will appreciate the work as concepts like answerability, emotional-volitional tone, and care for the other, come to life via application and consideration of Kennedy's appearance. For argumentation scholars, the interest comes forth in a re-thinking of how we do argumentation. And the critical cultural scholar will find this story ripe with opportunities to uncover the politics of representation, racialized discourse, privilege, power, ideological hegemony, and reconciliation. Through an approach of multiple layers this real-life tale will expose the power of the presence among audience and speaker, emotive argument, as well as the magical turn of fate which all contributes the possibility of a dialogic rhetoric.