IT WAS MIDSUMMER 1972, two weeks after he had turned down a place on his party's presidential ticket, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in that flat Boston twang so reminiscent of the voices of the other Kennedys, was recalling the past for a people whose own history on the continent predated that of his New England constituents. But it was the recent past that Kennedy recalled, a past marred by the deaths of two brothers who had symbolized a hope and a promise for the people whose cause Kennedy himself was now taking up. He was encouraging his hearers to make an active commitment to their own betterment, to confront the country's political parties, even his own, and make them respond.
"Robert Kennedy shared that view," Kennedy said. "He walked the streets of the barrio in East Los Angeles, he broke the fast with Cesar Chavez in Delano, and he committed himself to alter the conditions of poverty and discrimination in this country. For he believed, as I do, that this nation can never be completely free nor completely whole until we know that no child cries from hunger in the Rio Grande Valley, until we know that no mother in East Los Angeles fears illness because she cannot afford a doctor, until we know that no man suffers because the law refuses to recognize his humanity. It is not for the Chicano alone that we must seek these goals. It is not for the disadvantaged alone that we seek these goals. It is for America's future."