BOBBY KENNEDY (JFK, MLK, MALCOLM X) and the turbulent 1960s—and ongoing…

“What happened was, I think, this series of assassinations destroyed the fabric of this country’s belief in itself…”
—Harry Belafonte

In preparing for the Ali documentary and his remarkably fascinating 1960s and life (I leave for England next week to film and interview Sir Henry Cooper and Earnie Shavers) I’ve been watching a few films that mix archive footage with present day interviews—or in the case of films, actors.

I just watched the film Bobby, which received mixed reviews. It also garnered a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture. I thought it was challenging and interesting—and, when panned, unfairly.

There were of course several brutal and well-known assassinations during the sixties, John F Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965—with whom, for a time, Muhammad Ali was very close), Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy (both 1968). There was also Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers (I think with backing by the FBI—his image is in the video of the song What’s Going Down—51 seconds), and more, to be sure (depending on how one defines the term assassination).

Researching a little farther, I found this list of US assassinations, which is quite startling. The first on the list, by name, is Charles Bent, Governor of the Territory of New Mexico who was actually killed by arrows and scalping, by Pueblo Indians and Mexican Rebels. Geezuz.

Not uplifting (the list!—although the film has many uplifting moments), but revealing and historically interesting.

American involvement in assassination and assassination attempts of foreign leaders is also quite extensive.

As for Canada, there have been only a couple of political assassinations. Irish-born father of Confederation Thomas D’Arcy McGee in 1868, who was against the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States that was pushing for a takeover of Canada. Shot in a doorway by a Fenian sympathiser Patrick Whelan, McGee was the first person murdered in the recently established Dominion of Canada.

Quebec Liberal (and Minister of Labour) Pierre Laporte was kidnapped and murdered during the intensely Québec-separatist FLQ (Québec Liberation Front) reign of terrorist activities in the early 1970s, when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.

Interestingly, it was before the murder that Trudeau imposed martial law (with great popular support in both Quebec and the rest of Canada, it turns out). I don’t think America, during all the riots, Kent State, the Chicago convention, and all the assassinations, ever called for martial law.

Louis Riel, the Canadia who was hung, is a whole other conversation.

Never forget, I tell myself, we are all tied by our human nature, yet within that human nature there is a wide-spectrum of belief of how certain outcomes should be achieved…

In the meantime and the mystery, of course, try to love more…

Pete x


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