Monday, June 6, 1966: Robert Kennedy's 'Ripple of Hope' speech

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy branded apartheid as one of the evils of the world Monday night in a speech certain to anger the South African Government. The 40-year-old New York Democrat, brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, was speaking to the multi-racial National Union of South African Students, which invited him to South Africa, at Cape Town University. Many observers believed this to be the most important speech made by an visitor to South Africa, where race separation is official policy, since a former British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, was here in 1960.

The speech's most famous passage: 

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 which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Note: The quotation is inscribed at Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo: @

-- Story by Reuters: @; photo taken June 8 in Soweto by Alf Kumalo

* Text and audio (JFK Library): @
* Summary (RFK Legacy Education Project): @
* Summary from "American Voices: An Encyclopedia of American Orators" (Bernard K. Duffy and Richard W. Leeman, 2005): @
* "Kennedy hits at apartheid" (The Glasgow Herald): @
* "50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's 'Ripple of Hope' speech (University of Cape Town): @
* "50 Years Later, South Africa Still Feels RFK's Message of Hope" (Voice of America): @ 
* "RFK in the Land of Apartheid: A Ripple of Hope" (film by Larry Shore and Tami Gold, 2009; site includes several links to other resources): @
* Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights: @


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