Health & Family

‘Oh Lord, not Bobby, too. Not Bobby, too.'

I was a bride in 1968. On that June morning, a few weeks after getting married, I had a job interview. We were living in Manhattan, where my groom was finishing school at Columbia University. Danny had gone to work earlier, and I was awakened by the clock radio. Robert Kennedy had been assassinated. It was June 6, 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed just two months before. I remember wondering: “What else can happen?” JFK had brought such hope and promise to the country. World War II was behind us, and the economy strong. We were free to wage war on poverty and racism.

People were truly asking “What you can do for your country?” Danny and I had met in VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps. It was our way of participating in the dreams for the future that JFK had inspired. Then Martin Luther King was assassinated. His message of nonviolence seemed to die with him.

Robert Kennedy was a last hope for the vision that had inspired my generation, and now he was gone, too. It was just too much to feel or process.

I was numb, and there was the job interview. So, I went on with the day.

In the subway, I encountered a man shuffling along, shaking his head, with tears streaming down his face, saying: “Oh Lord, not Bobby, too. Not Bobby, too.” My privileged middle class disappointment had encountered the despair of someone who hadn't the luxury of insulating himself against defeat in the wars on poverty and racism.

Judy Biber, 62, is a homemaker and has lived in Charlotte since 1976.