Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy and former U.S. attorney general, was born on this day in history, November 20, 1925.
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph Sr. and Rose Kennedy, Robert was the seventh of their nine children.
He was commonly referred to as “Bobby.”
In 1943, Kennedy joined the Navy College Training Program, known as V-12, and began studying at Harvard.
He was moved to Bates College, served on a ship named after his late elder brother Joe, and was honorably discharged from the Navy in May 1946, says the National Parks Service website.
Kennedy then resumed his studies at Harvard, graduating in 1948. He then went on to study law, and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1951, says the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library website.
Shortly after graduating from law school, Kennedy jumped into the world of politics.
In 1952, Kennedy managed his brother John’s campaign for U.S. Senate, then spent time working for the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, says the JFK Presidential Library.
Kennedy also managed John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential run in 1960.
He was appointed U.S. attorney general by his brother, a move that was “controversial” at the time, says the National Parks Service.
“Bobby had never practiced law before and was appointed due to their father’s insistence that the president have someone he could trust,” said the same source.
Inexperienced as he was, Kennedy quickly got to work proving the naysayers wrong. In particular, Kennedy worked against organized crime, and “convictions against organized crime figures rose by 800% during his tenure,” said the JFK Library.
Kennedy also was committed to civil rights causes, particularly those related to voting rights for African Americans and school integration.
After President Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby Kennedy resigned from his role of U.S. attorney general.
He was elected to the Senate in 1964, representing New York.
In 1968, it seemed as though the White House might soon once again be occupied by a member of the Kennedy family.
Bobby Kennedy announced his presidential bid on March 16, 1968.
Tragically, it was not meant to be.
While addressing his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and celebrating a win in the California primary, Kennedy was shot three times by assassin Sirhan Sirhan.
Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant with Jordanian citizenship who moved to the United States as a child, reportedly said, “I did it for my country” after shooting Kennedy, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Kennedy succumbed to his injuries on June 6, 1968.
He was 42.
Kennedy was survived by his wife, Ethel Skakel, and his 11 children. Ethel Kennedy was three months pregnant at the time of his death.
Sirhan was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the state of California abolished the death penalty, notes Encyclopedia Britannica.
He has been denied parole several times, most recently in March 2023.