Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

120 Inspiring Quotes by Robert Kennedy

  • Last updated Jul 27 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Robert Kennedy.

Wikipedia Summary for Robert Kennedy

Robert Francis Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also referred to by his initials RFK or by the nickname Bobby, was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. He was, like his brothers John and Edward, a prominent member of the Democratic Party and has come to be viewed by some historians as an icon of modern American liberalism.

Kennedy was born into a wealthy, political family in Brookline, Massachusetts. After serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1944 to 1946, Kennedy returned to his studies at Harvard University, and later received his law degree from the University of Virginia. He began his career as a correspondent for The Boston Post and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, but later resigned to manage his brother John's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1952. The following year, he worked as an assistant counsel to the Senate committee chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. He gained national attention as the chief counsel of the Senate Labor Rackets Committee from 1957 to 1959, where he publicly challenged Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa over the union's corrupt practices. Kennedy resigned from the committee to conduct his brother's successful campaign in the 1960 presidential election. He was appointed United States Attorney General at the age of 36, becoming the youngest Cabinet member in U.S. history since Alexander Hamilton in 1789. He served as his brother's closest advisor until his 1963 assassination.

His tenure is best known for its advocacy for the civil rights movement, the fight against organized crime and the Mafia, and involvement in U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. He authored his account of the Cuban Missile Crisis in a book titled Thirteen Days. As attorney general, he authorized the FBI to wiretap Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on a limited basis. After his brother's assassination, he remained in office in the Johnson Administration for several months. He left to run for the United States Senate from New York in 1964 and defeated Republican incumbent Kenneth Keating. In office, Kennedy opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and raised awareness of poverty by sponsoring legislation designed to lure private business to blighted communities (i.e. Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration project). He was an advocate for issues related to human rights and social justice by traveling abroad to eastern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa, and formed working relationships with Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Walter Reuther.

In 1968, Kennedy became a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency by appealing to poor, African American, Hispanic, Catholic, and young voters. His main challenger in the race was Senator Eugene McCarthy. Shortly after winning the California primary around midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was mortally wounded when shot with a pistol by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, allegedly in retaliation for his support of Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War. Kennedy died the following morning. Sirhan was arrested, tried, and convicted, though Kennedy's assassination, like his brother's, continues to be the subject of widespread analysis and numerous conspiracy theories.

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Tolerating organized crime promotes the cheap philosophy that everything is a racket. It promotes cynicism among adults. It contributes to the confusion of the young and to the increase of juvenile delinquency.

--Robert Kennedy

forest trees photograph

We know that if one man's rights are denied, the rights of all are endangered.

--Robert Kennedy

green trees under blue sky at daytime

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.

--Robert Kennedy

Longer Version:

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Government belongs wherever evil needs an adversary and there are people in distress.


pink and yellow flower painting

Even as my father grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, signs told him: 'No Irish Need Apply.'

--Robert Kennedy


white and blue floral textile

In the last analysis, our every right is only worth what our lawyer makes it worth.

--Robert Kennedy


silhouette of stones during golden hour

It is the right of government to protect the weak; it is the right of the weak to find in their courts fair treatment before the law.

--Robert Kennedy






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It is one thing to open job opportunities. It is another to train people to fill them, or to persuade American enterprise to seek Negro as well as white applicants.

--Robert Kennedy


blue, yellow, and brown wall decor

The poor man looks upon the law as an enemy, not as a friend. For him, the law is always taking something away.

--Robert Kennedy

icy mountain scenery

I am deeply impressed with the gravity and wisdom with which most federal judges approach the responsibility of sentencing. It is a difficult, soul-searching task at best.

--Robert Kennedy

clear wine glass with red wine

Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard, to share in the decisions of government which shape men's lives.

--Robert Kennedy

man in black suit jacket and woman in blue dress kissing during daytime

Now I can go back to being ruthless again.

--Robert Kennedy

foggy mountain summit

It is the essence of responsibility to put the public good ahead of personal gain.

--Robert Kennedy

gray concrete surface

If freedom makes social progress possible, so social progress strengthens and enlarges freedom.

--Robert Kennedy

Longer Version:

If freedom makes social progress possible, so social progress strengthens and enlarges freedom. The two are inseparable partners in the great adventure of humanity.


Arizona landscape

Good union leaders make excellent public leaders in the legislative and executive branches.

--Robert Kennedy


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In the cases that come before the Department of Justice involving a wide range of unlawful activities, we see repeated evidence of family and community failures.

--Robert Kennedy



four orange, green, blue, and red paint rollers

Don't get mad, get even.

--Robert Kennedy

grayscale photography of pug

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.

--Robert Kennedy

Longer Version:

It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.


rainbow desert

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.

--Robert Kennedy

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Communism everywhere has paid the price of rigidity and dogmatism. Freedom has the strength of compassion and flexibility. It has, above all, the strength of intellectual honesty.

--Robert Kennedy



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Our scientists grapple with the difficulties of placing a man on the moon, but the immediately troubling concern of our society is whether men of different races can sit together at a lunch counter.

--Robert Kennedy



three person looking stars and milky way

Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.

--Robert Kennedy


silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

To the extent that laws are founded on morality and on logic, they can lead men's hearts and minds.

--Robert Kennedy

leafless tree

I love this city. If I am elected, I'll move the White House to San Francisco. Everybody's so friendly.

--Robert Kennedy


yellow flower field near bare trees during daytime

In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfilment of the best qualities of your own spirit.

--Robert Kennedy

empty gray floor beside pool

Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.

--Robert Kennedy



black bird

But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?

--Robert Kennedy

three boys running on field

Victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed.

--Robert Kennedy

body of water during daytime

GNP measures neither our courage, our wisdom neither our compassion. It measures everything except what makes life worthwhile.

--Robert Kennedy

woman snorkeling

Circumstances of crimes vary. So do motives. And so do prospects for rehabilitation. The number of imponderables makes it impossible to sentence by formula and still sentence justly.

--Robert Kennedy

silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

All of us will ultimately be judged on the effort we have contributed to building a new world order.

--Robert Kennedy

Dark purple to red to orange gradient

There has been far too much hypocrisy in the field of civil rights. It is easy enough to give rousing speeches or call for legislation which has no possibility of passage.

--Robert Kennedy

photography of burning camp fire

In my judgment, the slogan "black power" and what has been associated with it has set the civil rights movement back considerably in the United States over the period of the last several months.

--Robert Kennedy

purple and green light digital wallpaper

Every dictatorship has ultimately strangled in the web of repression it wove for its people, making mistakes that could not be corrected because criticism was prohibited.

--Robert Kennedy

selective focus photography of black and white bird on stem

The world of sports knows no religious, racial or political differences. Athletes, from whatever land they come, speak the same language. The lessons of competition are lessons for life.

--Robert Kennedy


green trees in between gray concrete road

Every American has the duty to obey the law and the right to expect that the law will be enforced.

--Robert Kennedy

white wall paint with white wall paint

I like to be involved in politics. I like to be involved in government. I've been in politics all my life. I would like to remain in government. I don't think that's so sinister.

--Robert Kennedy

black and white bird on seashore

The fact that free men persist in the search for the truth is the essential difference between Communism and Democracy.

--Robert Kennedy


woman riding on skateboard during daytime

The United States was born in revolution and nurtured by struggle. Throughout our history, the American people have befriended and supported all those who seek independence and a better way of life.

--Robert Kennedy

red textile in close up photography

Punishment is not prevention. History offers cold comfort to those who think grievance and despair can be subdued by force.

--Robert Kennedy

green trees beside body of water during daytime

Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.

--Robert Kennedy

concert photos

We develop the kind of citizens we deserve. If a large number of our children grow up into frustration and poverty, we must expect to pay the price.

--Robert Kennedy


blue and white abstract painting

Together, we can make ourselves a nation that spends more on books than on bombs, more on hospitals than the terrible tools of war, more on decent houses than military aircraft.

--Robert Kennedy

leafless tree under gray sky

Desegregation of schools does not automatically transform them into better schools. It is only a step. The larger goal is to see that the education of our youth is not merely desegregated, but that it is excellent.

--Robert Kennedy



blue and white striped textile

From the first moment of independence, the United States has been dedicated to innovation as a way of government and a way of life.

--Robert Kennedy

white and purple flower in macro shot

I dream of things that are not and ask why not.

--Robert Kennedy

purple petaled flower on gray surface

Satellite communications connect television screens in Japan with television cameras in England, and the distance of half a world loses its meaning.

--Robert Kennedy


fawn pug lying on floor

One can find a squalid America as easily as a scenic America; a bitter, hopeless America as easily as the confident America of polyethylene wrapping, new cars, and camping trips in the summer.

--Robert Kennedy


brown sand under blue sky during daytime

I was the seventh of nine children. When you come from that far down you have to struggle to survive.

--Robert Kennedy

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It is an unfinished society that we offer the world-a society that is forever committed to change, to improvement and to growth, that will never stagnate in the certitude of ideology or the finalities of dogma.

--Robert Kennedy

yellow flower shallow photography

I am ashamed to report that my father, who is 73, has never been beaten by any of his four sons in golf. We have all become resigned to the fact that he has determined that he won't be beaten.

--Robert Kennedy

galaxy

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.

--Robert Kennedy

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What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.

--Robert Kennedy

group of camels walking on desert lake at daytime

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others.

--Robert Kennedy

red and blue light digital wallpaper

I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.

--Robert Kennedy

white desk lamp beside green plant

If any man claims the Negro should be content... let him say he would willingly change the color of his skin and go to live in the Negro section of a large city. Then and only then has he a right to such a claim.

--Robert Kennedy

Arizona landscape rain

One of the great creative statesmen of our age was Franklin Roosevelt. He was creative precisely because he preferred experiment to ideology.

--Robert Kennedy


red strawberry fruit on red surface

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort.

--Robert Kennedy


brown and gray floral textile

I come from a family that has always emphasized and enjoyed sports -- golf, tennis, football, baseball and the rest.

--Robert Kennedy

man standing on cliff under white sky

We must continue to prove to the world that we can provide a rising standard of living for all men without loss of civil rights or human dignity to any man.

--Robert Kennedy

scenery of aurora

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves.

--Robert Kennedy

Longer Version:

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.


brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

The right to vote is the easiest of all rights to grant.

--Robert Kennedy



white desk lamp beside green plant

Where aspirations outstrip opportunities, law-abiding society becomes the victim. Attitudes of contempt toward the law are forged in this crucible and form the inner core of the beliefs of organized adult crime.

--Robert Kennedy


green leaf in close up photography

When companies get together secretly to fix prices and attempt to eliminate competition, honest businessmen suffer. I think this is wrong.

--Robert Kennedy




brown sands

If I get to be president, what can I do anyway? With Congress and the press, what chance do I have to make basic changes?

--Robert Kennedy

long exposure photography of lights

This much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

--Robert Kennedy


yellow green leaf

While free markets tend to democratize a society, unfettered capitalism leads invariably to corporate control of government.

--Robert Kennedy



blue sky with stars during night time

Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.

--Robert Kennedy

aerial photography of mountain range covered with snow under white and blue sky at daytime

Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that LSD can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.

--Robert Kennedy


silhouette of off-road car

The greatest truth must be recognition that in every man, in every child is the potential for greatness.

--Robert Kennedy

stars across the sky view at the desert

I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and I have such strong feelings about what must be done.

--Robert Kennedy

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Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills... Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man.

--Robert Kennedy

photo of giraffe

Since the days of Greece and Rome, when the word 'citizen' was a title of honor, we have often seen more emphasis put on the rights of citizenship than on its responsibilities.

--Robert Kennedy

green trees under white sky during daytime

The Gross National Product measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile.

--Robert Kennedy

man riding horse

Religion is a salve for confusion and misdirection.

--Robert Kennedy



palm trees covered with fog

Industrial agriculture now accounts for over half of America's water pollution.

--Robert Kennedy

aerial photography of pine trees with mist

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

--Robert Kennedy

Longer Version:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.


man standing on cliff under white sky

Nothing is more false than the notion that the triumph of Communism is inevitable or that the Communists are steadily pushing the free world into a corner.

--Robert Kennedy



silver round analog wall clock

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

--Robert Kennedy

We wish you a perfect day!