About the 17th Annual Symposium
"Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies."
~ Robert F. Kennedy
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Often lost in the shadows of the more notorious JFK assassination are the equally history-altering events of five years later - the brutal slayings of U.S. Senator and likely Democratic presidential nominee Robert F. Kennedy and visionary civil rights leader, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Together, their back-to-back murders in the spring of 1968 touched off a firestorm of righteous indignation and contributed to an unmooring of American political life and distrust of government that poison our national dialogue still.
As with the JFK assassination, the facts of these crimes, along with the official explanations of their having similarly been committed by lone actors motivated solely by their own personal demons and biases, would also prompt decades of counter-narratives - "conspiracy theories," in the pejorative parlance of everyone from the anonymous CIA official who brought that phrase to life in a 1967 internal dispatch to the less independent-thinking journalists of today who have adopted it with nary a thought as to its actual meaning.
And yet call them what you will, from questions about the murky motives of alleged and eventually convicted assassins James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan, to doubts about the shaky legal defenses mounted in their behalf, to unresolved mysteries pertaining to the ballistic and other forensic scientific analyses of the crime scenes, the events of April 4 and June 5, 1968 are no closer to closure than are the events of November 22, 1963.
In keeping with a tradition that includes its historic 2003 and 2013 symposia on the JFK assassination and a 2008 conference, Making Sense of the Sixties, the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law is pleased to be hosting this national symposium, which seeks to explore not only the deaths, but indeed the remarkable lives and enduring legacies of Sen. Kennedy and the Rev. King.
Whether you're a longtime assassination researcher or someone with only a passing interest in the subject, we invite you not just to sit back and learn, but to take this opportunity to ask hard questions of others and yourselves about our nation's past and the kind of country we envision going forward.