Little Known AAI History Fact: AAI Honored Robert F. Kennedy

Robert Kennedy antiapartheid

The late Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the 1963 March on Washington

For its 30th Anniversary Awards Gala, AAI honored in 1984 the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy with a posthumous award for his strong support of human rights in South Africa. Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa presented the award to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who accepted on his late brother’s behalf.


In accepting the award, Senator Edward Kennedy observed:

“This tribute to my brother Bob would have pleased him, for he was proud of the contribution he was able to make to the struggle for human dignity in South Africa. But nothing would have pleased him more than the fact that this award is bestowed upon him tonight by Bishop Desmond Tutu. Those of us who know Desmond Tutu cherish him as a friend and admire him as a brave and caring leader of his people. We know the greatness that is in this man, the gentleness that is mixed with steel, the strength of purpose and tenacity of will, the indomitable spirit, and lively good humor. And if Robert Kennedy were with us tonight, he would be the first to express great joy that Desmond Tutu’s noble work has been honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace. He would also know that everything I have said about Desmond Tutu is also true about Desmond Tutu’s people and that, in honoring Bishop Tutu, the world pays tribute to the people of South Africa.”

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