On March 16, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy announced his historic presidential run. 50 years later, Netflix chose that date to announce their upcoming documentary, Bobby Kennedy for President. The series premieres on April 27.
Robert F. made his announcement in the exact spot where his brother, John F. Kennedy, announced his own presidential campaign back in 1960: In the U.S. Senate Caucus Room. Then, less than two months later, On June 6, 1968, his campaign tragically ended when he was assassinated on June 6.
Today, Netflix announced that director Dawn Porter is creating a new series simply titled Bobby Kennedy For President.
In school, we learned about the Kennedy’s and their influence on America. Most classes focused on JFK’s assassination and his presidency, which some call “Camelot.” However, the documentary focuses on his younger brother, Bobby, who was also his Attorney General. During the mini-series, we get to see how RFK goes from a law-and-order leader to progressive social justice and civil rights crusader.
50 Year Anniversary Release Date
Many are wondering how executive producer Laura Michalchyshyn and director Dawn Porter will bring this miniseries to life. The four part-miniseries will be using rare and never-before-seen footage — a lot of it digitized for the first time — as well as interviews with people who worked closely with Bobby Kennedy.
They approached Porter in 2015. She was asked to direct a documentary about Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan’s legal case. After much research, she found Robert F. Kennedy’s life far more intriguing.
According to Porter:
“There is so much to his career and life that isn’t talked about,” Porter said. “Also there’s really not a soup-to-nuts Bobby Kennedy piece. There is a lot on his death, but I didn’t want to just focus on his death because so often when we talk about Bobby Kennedy we focus on the assassination or we focus on his relationship with JFK. This series is about a story that you think you know, but you don’t really know.”
As time went on, Porter wondered when she should release the miniseries. With much thinking, she found it prudent to release it upon the 50th anniversary of his presidential run.
The Life of Robert F. Kennedy
“In 1968, America was a wounded nation. The wounds were moral ones, and the Vietnam War and three summers of inner-city riots had inflicted them on the national soul, challenging Americans’ belief that they were a uniquely noble and honorable people. Nineteen sixty-eight was an election year, and the presidential candidates all promised to win or negotiate an end to the Vietnam War. But only one candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, recognized the moral wounds and promised to heal them.” That is some of the first page of the book The Last Campaign by Thurston Clarke. It will be interesting to see how Porter takes the life of RFK and brings it to TV screens across the world.
To tell this seven-year story, Porter must rely on over 240 hours of archival footage from local and national news outlets. That’s definitely time-consuming, but Porter and Michalchyshyn pushed up their sleeves and got down to work.
What she didn’t want to do was make it a biopic.
“My focus was, what did it take for Bobby, a politician in the public eye, to change and morph over time?” Porter said. “It was important to me to tell that part of the story because it’s a story that is really relevant today. We’re currently in a place where we dismiss so much of what politicians on either side have to say. The public’s distrust can be directly traced to a feeling that politicians are self-serving and insincere. Bobby reminds us that politics can and should serve the public good.”
We should get to see the timeline from the time he announced his presidency, as well as his civil rights moments. Especially that of him announcing the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The speech that he gave to Indianapolis was done on the ride, starting his speech without any drafts. It was then delivered on the back of a flatbed, even though local police warned him that there might be riots.
63 days after that speech, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
Both he and his brother were idealist young men whose lives were cut short. America lost out on what could have been. Below is one of the last interviews Bobby Kennedy did before his assassination.
Interviews With Important People in RFK’s Life
The four-part miniseries is sure to be one history fans will not want to miss. Porter and Michalchyshyn have gotten interviews from important people in Bobby Kennedy’s life. These people include confidantes and staffers, including Harry Belafonte, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Neil Gallagher, Dolores Huerta, Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel, just to name a few.
Munir Sirhan, brother of RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, will also be interviewed.
Bobby Kennedy For President will launch on April 27 on Netflix. Be sure to tune in to see the life of a man who was passionate enough to lead his brother to become President, but also become a man who inspired America. “Some men see things as they are, and as why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”
Featured Image CC0 by Warren K. Leffler via Wikimedia Commons