Hundreds of lives where changed that night. Here are just a few.
Julia Carson, who in 1968 was a twenty-nine-year-old caseworker in the Indianapolis office of Democratic U.S. Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. She attended the speech that night and went on to a life of public service, serving in both the Indiana General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. Her grandson, Andre Carson, now represents the district she served until her death in 2007.
Theodore Boehm, a twenty-nine-year-old lawyer and Robert F. Kennedy campaign volunteer present for the speech. Following the speech, Boehm joined others with Kennedy at the Marott Hotel. Boehm went on to a life of public service. He served as CEO for the 1987 Pan Am Games planning committee and recently retired after a fourteen-year term on the Indiana Supreme Court. Boehm recalled that “the campaign was a pivotal event for me that rededicated a career towards public service.”
Ben Bell, a leader within the local community who helped to provide security at Robert F. Kennedy’s rally. Bell was the director of the College Room, a community center in the neighborhood, treasurer of the Black Radical Action Project, and an outspoken supporter of rights for the local black community. He joined local leaders who met with Kennedy at the Marott Hotel following the speech. He is survived by his wife, JoMarva, and his daughter, India, both of whom were with him at the rally that night.
Tom Keating, an Indianapolis Star reporter assigned to cover stories about police activities. The night of the Robert F. Kennedy campaign rally, Keating raced to the scene with two police officers. Keating later became a columnist with the Star and a member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
John Lewis, present at the rally that night as one of Robert F. Kennedy’s national aides. Born the son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis was close with Martin Luther King Jr. and became instrumental in the civil rights movement. He experienced violence as a Freedom Rider and on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama. Lewis has devoted his life to public service, working in both Georgia state government and as a U.S. representative.
Frank Mankiewicz, who served as Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign press secretary. He holds degrees in political science, journalism, and law from three prestigious universities, and his family has strong ties to the Hollywood film industry. Mankiewicz went on to an eclectic career, including an unsuccessful run for public office and terms as the president of National Public Radio, regional director for the Peace Corps, and campaign director for 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. He now works as a consultant in Washington, D.C.
Michael Riley, who attended the Robert F. Kennedy rally as president of the Indiana State Young Democrats and as chairman of Kennedy’s state campaign. Riley oversaw plans for the campaign event and after hearing news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death became an advocate for proceeding with the rally. After the speech, he remained friends with the Kennedy family and went on to a long career with various state Democratic political groups. He is now a lawyer living in Rensselaer, Indiana.
Rozelle Boyd, who in 1968 became the first African American elected to the Indianapolis City-County Council. A graduate of Indianapolis’s Crispus Attucks High School, Boyd received his degree from Butler University before becoming a teacher. Boyd gave more than forty years to public service and is distinguished as the council’s first African American president. He remains active in a number of community groups today.
Diane Meyer Simon. In April 1968 Simon was a Butler University student, and was so inspired by Robert F. Kennedy’s speech that she took a leave of absence from school to join the campaign. She went on to work for U.S. Senator Birch Bayh for twelve years and became the Indiana administrator of his office. She and ex-husband Herbert Simon have three children. Diane is a pioneer in the field of green design and continues to work for social justice.
Jim Trulock, a United Automobile Workers member who attended the Robert F. Kennedy rally while employed at the Shadeland electrical plant for Chrysler Corporation. Trulock went on to a career that involved managing political campaigns, representing the UAW in the Indiana legislature, working as a historian, and founding Pathway to Recovery, an organization that provides housing and services to the homeless.
Paul Cantwell. In 1968 Cantwell was a Marion County commissioner, city councilman, and a representative in the state legislature. He had a long career as a Democratic activist until his death in 1997, including a term as chief of staff to U.S. Representative Andy Jacobs Jr. Cantwell’s daughter, Maria, currently serves as a U.S. senator from the state of Washington.
Abie Robinson, who attended Robert F. Kennedy’s speech through his interest in the civil rights movement. At the time of the rally, the twenty-four-year-old Robinson had recently returned from the navy and was about to enroll in college. He currently works at the site where the speech took place. In his role as senior program manager for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Robinson is actively involved in commemorating the event and its legacy.
Jon Carlstrom. In the spring of 1968 Carlstrom served as the program director at the East Side Christian Center (now the Edna Martin Christian Center), where he worked with teens from the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood near the rally site. Now a consultant, mediator, and transitional pastor, Carlstrom pastored churches in Indiana for forty years. He also served as the law enforcement chaplain for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department for twelve years.
James McDaniel. Age twenty-three in 1968, McDaniel worked with teens at the East Side Christian Center (now the Edna Martin Christian Center) in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood near the rally site. After leaving his job at the East Side Christian Center, McDaniel became an accountant for the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware and later the vice president and chief financial officer of a non-profit group of retirement communities. He is now retired.
Billie Breaux. In 1968 Breaux taught in the Indianapolis Public Schools and served as president of the Indianapolis Education Association and vice president of the Indiana State Teachers’ Association. She was instrumental in integrating the IPS faculty by hiring African American educators. After teaching for thirty-one years, Breaux served as a state senator for nineteen years. She is currently serving her second term as the Marion County Auditor. Her daughter, Jean Breaux, now serves her mother’s old senate district.
William Crawford. In April 1968 Crawford worked for the post office, but the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death and Robert F. Kennedy’s speech changed the direction of his life. Crawford quit his post office job and began working for the Black Radical Action Project and serving as a community organizer. He first ran for office in 1972 and has been a member of the Indiana House of Representatives ever since. Crawford will retire at the end of his term in 2012.
Teresa Lubbers. A junior at Warren Central High School, Lubbers attended the speech with her older brother. Robert F. Kennedy’s speech and his understanding of personal sacrifice had an impact on her belief that public service is a noble calling. After graduating from Indiana University, Lubbers returned to Warren Central High School to teach English. She then worked in Mayor Richard Lugar’s office and served as Lugar’s deputy press secretary when he became a U.S. senator. She served sixteen years in the Indiana State Senate and is now the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education.
Rutha Powell. A neighborhood resident and busy single mother, Powell rushed home from her job at Methodist Hospital to attend Robert F. Kennedy’s rally with her children. After working at the hospital as a dietary supervisor for twenty-five years, Powell retired. She became a neighborhood leader, working with the Citizen’s Neighborhood Coalition, establishing the King Park Area Development Corporation, and helping to organize the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center in order to improve the neighborhood around the rally site.