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A collection of Robert F. Kennedy quotes and sayings on politics, democracy, belief, civil rights, courage, diversity, dreams, freedom, history, human rights etc.

137 Robert F. Kennedy Quotes That Widen Your Horizon

Quick Facts

Famous As: Brother of President John F. Kennedy

Born On: November 20, 1925

Died On: June 6, 1968

Born In: Brookline, Massachusetts

Died At Age: 42

Robert Francis ‘Bobby’ Kennedy, a lawyer by profession, was instrumental in managing the presidential campaign of his brother John F. Kennedy. He was appointed the Attorney General of the United States in 1960. Being a member of the Democratic Party, he was seen as a face of modern American Liberalism. Under John’s presidential tenure, Robert served as his closest advisor. Robert was popular for his defense for the Civil Rights Movement. He was also instrumental for dismantling organized crime and Mafia. Before his stint in politics, he served in the U.S. Naval Forces as a seamen apprentice in the Second World War. After his brother’s assassination, he took part in the elections of 1968, appealing to the African-American, poor, Catholic and young voters in the country. Much like his brother, Robert was later assassinated after his victory against Senator Eugene McCarthy. We have collected Robert F. Kennedy quotes from his speeches, writings, interviews etc. Here are some interesting quotes from this legendary American politician.

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Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

President Kennedy has named two Negroes to District Judgeships and appointed Thurgood Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals. When I came to the Department of Justice, there were only ten Negroes employed as lawyers; not a single Negro served as a United States Attorney - or ever had in the history of the country. That has been changed.

Robert F. Kennedy

If the purpose of the wall was to destroy Berlin, Herr Ulbricht and his cohorts have erred sadly. Berlin is not only going to continue to exist - it's going to grow and grow and grow. Its ties to West Germany will not be severed.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

Science began as one of the noblest expressions of man's reason. It will continue to serve humanity so long as it never forgets that human beings remain the heart of its purpose.

Robert F. Kennedy

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.

Robert F. Kennedy

The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution - nor by the courts - nor by the officers of the law - nor by the lawyers - but by the men and women who constitute our society - who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.

Robert F. Kennedy

Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.

Robert F. Kennedy

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

In my judgment, physical fitness is basic to all forms of excellence and to a strong, confident nation.

Robert F. Kennedy

Lawyers have their duties as citizens, but they also have special duties as lawyers. Their obligations go far deeper than earning a living as specialists in corporation or tax law. They have a continuing responsibility to uphold the fundamental principles of justice from which the law cannot depart.

Robert F. Kennedy

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

Robert F. Kennedy

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.

Robert F. Kennedy

Automation provides us with wondrous increases of production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth - but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?

Robert F. Kennedy

Lack of education, old age, bad health or discrimination - these are causes of poverty, and the way to attack it is to go to the root.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

The travail of freedom and justice is not easy, but nothing serious and important in life is easy. The history of humanity has been a continuing struggle against temptation and tyranny - and very little worthwhile has ever been achieved without pain.

Robert F. Kennedy

Everything that makes man's life worthwhile - family, work, education, a place to rear one's children and a place to rest one's head - all this depends on the decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people, and I mean all of its people.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

What is learned on the athletic field is not forgotten, nor are the lessons of character that are forged there ever lost. Consider the contributions in the field of public life, business, law, medicine, and the military of those who actively participated in athletics.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

The Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America - except whether we are proud to be Americans.

Robert F. Kennedy

The leaders of the world face no greater task than that of avoiding nuclear war. While preserving the cause of freedom, we must seek abolition of war through programs of general and complete disarmament. The Test-Ban Treaty of 1963 represents a significant beginning in this immense undertaking.

Robert F. Kennedy

Unions, by and large, are democratic organizations with freely chosen leaders and policies determined by the membership. They concern themselves with individual dignity not only in their aims but in their method. We have no better example of what is worthy of emulation abroad than the workings of a good union.

Robert F. Kennedy

One of the primary purposes of civilization - and certainly its primary strength - is the guarantee that family life can flourish in unity, peace, and order.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

Our generation was born during the turmoil following the First World War. That war marked the dividing line - at least for the Western World - between the comfortable security of the 19th century and the instability and flux of our own time.

Robert F. Kennedy

The most significant civil rights problem is voting. Each citizen's right to vote is fundamental to all the other rights of citizenship and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 make it the responsibility of the Department of Justice to protect that right.

Robert F. Kennedy

It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.

Robert F. Kennedy

We in the United States believe in the protection of minorities; we recognize the contributions that they can make and the leadership that they can provide; and we do not believe that any people - whether majority or minority, or individual human beings - are 'expendable' in the cause of theory or of policy.

Robert F. Kennedy

We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

I can understand the Chinese Wall: it was built as a defense against marauders. But a wall such as that in Berlin, built to prevent people from seeking freedom, is almost beyond comprehension.

Robert F. Kennedy

The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads... It includes... the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children.

Robert F. Kennedy

We know that we cannot live together without rules which tell us what is right and what is wrong, what is permitted and what is prohibited. We know that it is law which enables men to live together, that creates order out of chaos. We know that law is the glue that holds civilization together.

Robert F. Kennedy

Now I can go back to being ruthless again.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

I thought they'd get one of us, but Jack, after all he's been through, never worried about it I thought it would be me.

Robert F. Kennedy

Yesterday, we sought telescopes good enough to see all the planets. Today, we seek vehicles good enough to reach them.

Robert F. Kennedy

Communism counts its opportunities in terms of decades - not of weeks. Its means of aggression consist not only of nuclear weapons and missiles with enormous boosters, and not only of spies, agents and terrorists, but of great masses of men and women, deluded by a common ideology which inspires them with a false hope.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

In the long run, a flexible sentencing procedure which works to rehabilitate offenders offers the best hope in the majority of cases in the Federal courts.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

A high standard of living cannot remain the exclusive possession of the West - and the sooner we can help other peoples to develop their resources, raise their living standards, and strengthen their national independence, the safer the world will be for us all.

Robert F. Kennedy

Whenever men take the law into their own hands, the loser is the law. And when the law loses, freedom languishes.

Robert F. Kennedy

In government, our chief executives have been lawyers. The great majority of our cabinets and congresses are and have been men trained in the law. They have provided the leadership and the statecraft and the store of strength when it was needed.

Robert F. Kennedy

It certainly should not surprise us that a young person without any real stake in a legitimate occupation or career may get into trouble more easily. Such persons readily accept the idea that they have been unjustly deprived of money, status, and opportunity.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

No one needs to tell me about the importance of the free press in a democratic society or about the essential role a newspaper can play in its community.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

When I was counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee, about 25% of the important leads which our committee developed came from newspapers. This increased my respect for those courageous newspapers which assisted us. It also caused me to look with wonderment at some of the newspapers that did not.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

The hardest problems of all in law enforcement are those involving a conflict of law and local customs. History has recorded many occasions when the moral sense of a nation produced judicial decisions, such as the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which required difficult local adjustments.

Robert F. Kennedy

In truth, the world is now a seamless web from which no nation, large or small, young or old, can disassociate itself. Every attitude and every action of every nation can affect the welfare and security of every other nation around the globe.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

We know that freedom has many dimensions. It is the right of the man who tills the land to own the land; the right of the workers to join together to seek better conditions of labor; the right of businessmen to use ingenuity and foresight to produce and distribute without arbitrary interference in a truly competitive economy.

Robert F. Kennedy

The history of antitrust law enforcement shows that successful antitrust prosecutions have often strengthened and brought vitality to extremely large companies and businesses.

Robert F. Kennedy

I don't believe newspaper reporters can substitute for a district attorney, but a newspaper has a very valid investigative role. Newspaper reports on corruption in government, racketeering and organized crime conditions can be very helpful to your communities and the whole country.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

Yesterday, we fought wars which destroyed cities. Today, we are concerned with avoiding a war which will destroy the earth. We can adapt atomic energy to produce electricity and move ships, but can we control its use in anger?

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

Those who challenge the law in one or another of its aspects weaken the whole legal structure of society. For one man to disobey a law he does not like is to invite others to disobey another law which he may regard as indispensable to his own livelihood - or life.

Robert F. Kennedy

When our forbears - yours and mine - came to America, they came because this country promised them something. It promised them an opportunity, nourished by education, not merely to grind for a bare living, but to strive for a good life.

Robert F. Kennedy

President Kennedy's election was such an enlargement. It expanded religious freedom to include the highest office in the land. President Kennedy's administration was such an enlargement. It advanced the day when the bars of intolerance against all minority groups will be lifted, not only for the presidency, but for all aspects of our national life.

Robert F. Kennedy

I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can.

Robert F. Kennedy

The tyranny of Communism is as old as the Pharaohs and the Pyramids - that the State stands above all men and their individual aspirations.

Robert F. Kennedy

The free way of life proposes ends, but it does not prescribe means.

Robert F. Kennedy

Freedom possesses many meanings. It speaks not merely in terms of political and religious liberty but also in terms of economic and social progress.

Robert F. Kennedy

The ultimate relationship between justice and law will be an eternal subject for speculation and analysis. But it may be said that in a democratic society, law is the form which free men give to justice.

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

The eradication of racial and religious prejudice in the United States - and in the rest of the world as well - is a long-term process.

Robert F. Kennedy

It is easy to overlook the importance of the young in underdeveloped countries. It is the natural course for nations, and diplomats, and those who publish newspapers, to speak to the established order. Seeking out the young requires a conscious effort.

Robert F. Kennedy

Within the United States, we have put great emphasis upon political freedoms. Because it has been our experience that these freedoms can lead to others.

Robert F. Kennedy

American books reflect our common heritage with many other nations and their influence upon our culture. The influences are endless, linking us with the rest of the world. Thus, they are good ambassadors for us.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

Let me make it clear that the Youth Employment Opportunities Act of 1961 is not primarily concerned with delinquency prevention. Rather, it is designed to help all types of young men or women who suffer deficiencies of training or opportunity which keep them unemployed.

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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 F. Kennedy

Ultimately, Communism must be defeated by progressive political programs which wipe out the poverty, misery, and discontent on which it thrives.

Robert F. Kennedy

It is one thing to open the schools to all children regardless of race. It is another to train the teachers, to build the classrooms, and to attempt to eliminate the effects of past educational deficiencies. It is still another to find ways to feed the incentive to learn and keep children in school.

Robert F. Kennedy