Indy man recounts ‘life-changing’ Kennedy speech announcing death of Martin Luther King Jr.

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Abie Robinson was just 24 on April 4, 1968. That day, he stood inside what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and listened to Robert Kennedy announce the death of the civil rights leader.

“You could hear the gasps in the crowd. It was like a collective grief stricken sigh. But more than hear it, if you were there, you could feel it,” Robinson said.

It was a moment that changed Robinson’s life. At the time, he says he was angry and hurt that the man who meant so much had been taken away. But afterwards, he says he came to the realization that honoring Dr. King would mean having to live according to his message.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

“The power is to be positive, to think positive, to paint positive pictures, to do things positive, to raise a family that’s positive, to be a part of an organization doing more than yourself,” Robinson said.

Robinson says a focus on positivity and love is something that now guides his life. He says he hopes the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death will serve as a reminder to people that one person can change the world. And that love can always win against hate.

“If anything, I’d want it to be a reminder of and a celebration of is the fact that we celebrate those ideas and that we continue to strive for that."

In what could be seen as fate, Robinson now works and has an office in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. He currently serves as a senior program coordinator for Indy Parks.

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