Group launches $500,000 campaign to renovate Kennedy King Park

Submitted photo/Courtesy Kennedy King Memorial Initiative

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) — Today marks 49 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was April 4, 1968 that the civil rights leader died in Memphis, Tennessee.

In an odd way, a community here in Indianapolis remains connected to that day.

And now the Kennedy King Park is gearing up for a major transformation.

Robert F. Kennedy came to Indianapolis that night. He was here for a political rally as he ran in the democratic primaries for president. While the crowd was left shocked, many say his words calmed this city.

“Martin Luther King’s life and Kennedy’s life and that speech made me realize that one person can make a difference,” said Abie Robinson who was at the speech. “For his life to be snuffed out like that it was devastating. It was like a personal friend you’d lost.”

Kennedy never delivered his political speech. He addressed the crowd while standing in the bed of a pickup truck .

“He started out his speech telling people to put down the signs because, ‘I have some bad news for you,’ and that’s when he broke the news to the crowd,” said Robinson.

The speech was at the corner of 17th street and Broadway. He called for calm and healing.

To commemorate that speech the Landmark for Peace sculpture was dedicated back in 1995, and now they’re looking to expand on it.

“We hope to be able to leverage their memories and their philosophies and their messages to address issues that are happening right here in America today that have to deal with division and injustice,” said Amy DiStaulo, the executive director of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative.

KKMI plans to raise $500,000 over the next year to renovate the park and add interactive displays to teach those here now about it’s place in history.

“It makes you pause and reflect to me what things were like then, that’s why I feel like it’s so important for us today to tell the kids or the young people now to know that part of your past,” said Robinson.

DiStaulo says as their campaign moves forward they’ll be having more events at the park. She says they plan on unveiling the renovations next year on the 50th commemoration of Dr. King’s death.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV