Robert Francis Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. Kennedy was a member of the Democratic Party and is often seen as an icon of modern American liberalism.
Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the seventh child of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. After serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a seaman apprentice from 1944 to 1946, Kennedy returned to Harvard University and graduated in 1948. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1951. He began his career as a correspondent for The Boston Post and as a lawyer at the Department of Justice and U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. He managed his brother John's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1952. The following year, he worked as an assistant counsel to the Senate committee chaired by Senator Joseph 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 the union and authored The Enemy Within, a book about corruption in organized labor.
Kennedy scored a major victory when he won the California primary. He addressed his supporters shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, in a ballroom at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Leaving the ballroom, he went through the hotel kitchen after being told it was a shortcut to a press room. He did this despite being advised by his bodyguard — former FBI agent Bill Barry — to avoid the kitchen. In a crowded kitchen passageway, Kennedy turned to his left and shook hands with busboy Juan Romero just as Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, opened fire with a .22-caliber revolver. Kennedy was hit three times, and five other people were wounded.
George Plimpton, former decathlete Rafer Johnson, and former professional football player Rosey Grier are credited with wrestling Sirhan to the ground after he shot the senator. As Kennedy lay mortally wounded, Juan Romero cradled his head and placed a rosary in his hand. Kennedy asked Romero, "Is everybody OK?", and Romero responded, "Yes, everybody's OK." Kennedy then turned away from Romero and said, "Everything's going to be OK." After several minutes, medical attendants arrived and lifted the senator onto a stretcher, prompting him to whisper, "Don't lift me", which were his last words. He lost consciousness shortly thereafter. He was rushed first to Los Angeles' Central Receiving Hospital, and then to the city's Good Samaritan Hospital. Despite extensive neurosurgery to remove the bullet and bone fragments from his brain, Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:44 a.m. (PDT) on June 6, nearly 26 hours after the shooting.
Robert Kennedy's death, like the 1963 assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, has been the subject of conspiracy theories.