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Robert F. Kennedy

64th United States Attorney General

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), commonly known by his initials RFK, was an American politician from Massachusetts. He served as the United States junior senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. He was previously the 64th U.S. Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, serving under his older brother President John F. Kennedy and his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson. Kennedy was a member of the Democratic Party, and is seen as an icon of modern American liberalism.

After serving in the United States Naval Reserve as a Seaman Apprentice from 1944 to 1946, Kennedy graduated from Harvard University and the University of Virginia. Prior to entering public office, he worked as a correspondent for The Boston Post and as an assistant counsel to the Senate committee chaired by Joe McCarthy. He gained national attention as the chief counsel of the Senate Labor Rackets Committee from 1957 to 1959, where he publicly challenged Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa over the corrupt practices of its union and authored The Enemy Within, a book about corruption in organized labor.

Kennedy was the campaign manager for his brother John in the 1960 presidential election. He was appointed Attorney General after the successful election and served as the closest adviser to the president from 1961 to 1963. His tenure is best known for its advocacy for the Civil Rights Movement, the fight against organized crime and the Mafia, and involvement in U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. After his brother's assassination, he remained in office in the Johnson administration for a few months. He left to run for the United States Senate in New York in 1964 defeating Republican incumbent Kenneth Keating.

In 1968, Kennedy was a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, appealing especially to poor, African-American, Hispanic, Catholic and young voters. Shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, after defeating Senator Eugene McCarthy in the California and South Dakota presidential primaries, he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, and died the following day.


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