113+ Best Robert F. Kennedy Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Robert Francis Kennedy 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. Inspirational Robert Kennedy quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

Famous Robert F. Kennedy Quotes

Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. Robert Kennedy

Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it. Robert F Kennedy

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black. Robert Kennedy

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies. Robert F Kennedy

There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Robert Kennedy

No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet. Robert F Kennedy

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies. Robert Kennedy

Always forgive your enemies, but never forget their names. Robert F Kennedy

It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. Robert Kennedy

In your hands, lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit. Robert F Kennedy

The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. Robert Kennedy

We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times. Robert F Kennedy

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. Robert Kennedy

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Robert F Kennedy

Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change. Robert Kennedy

America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity  the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired. Robert F Kennedy

Every time you stand up for an ideal, you send forth a tiny ripple of hope. Robert Kennedy

I’m tired of chasing people. Robert F Kennedy

Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as the talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances. Robert Kennedy

What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us. Robert F Kennedy

What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. Evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents. Robert Kennedy

I thought they’d get one of us, but Jack’s been through, never worried about it. I thought it would be me. Robert F Kennedy

But history will judge you, and as the years pass, you will ultimately judge yourself, in the extent to which you have used your gifts and talents to lighten and enrich the lives of your fellow men. In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit. Robert Kennedy

Wars of any magnitude release powerful social and economic forces which can change the whole face of the world. Robert F Kennedy

It is the essence of responsibility to put the public good ahead of personal gain Robert Kennedy

You had better pretend you don’t know me. Everyone connected to me seems jinxed.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Robert Kennedy

The greatest truth must be the recognition that in every man, in every child is the potential for greatness. Robert F Kennedy

He tells so many lies that he convinces himself after a while that he’s telling the truth. He just doesn’t recognize truth or falsehood. Robert Kennedy

Whenever we tear the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for his own self and his children, the whole nation is degraded. Robert F Kennedy

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. Robert Kennedy

In my judgment, physical fitness is basic to all forms of excellence and to a strong, confident nation. Robert F Kennedy

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Robert Kennedy

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Robert F Kennedy

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. Robert Kennedy

Every generation helps make its own future and this is the essential challenge of the present. Robert F Kennedy

If any man claims the Negro should be content let him say he would willingly change the color of his skin and go to live in the Negro section of a large city. Then and only then has he a right to such a claim.  Robert Kennedy

If you win, the reporters will always write about well oiled machines and super planning. If you lose, they will always write about hopeless incompetence. Robert F Kennedy

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter. Robert Kennedy

It is more important to be of service than to be successful. Robert F Kennedy

This much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul. Robert Kennedy

The freeway of life proposes ends, but it does not prescribe means. Robert F Kennedy

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Robert Kennedy

Courage is the most important attribute of a lawyer. Robert F Kennedy

I dream of things that are not and ask why not. Robert Kennedy

This much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a good cleansing of whole society can remove that sickness from our soul. Robert F Kennedy

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. Robert Kennedy

I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and I have such strong feelings about what must be done. Robert F Kennedy

All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people speaking out  in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out  in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes  let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind. Robert Kennedy

If freedom is to survive and prosper, it will require the sacrifice, the effort and the thoughtful attention of every citizen.

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of American society. Robert Kennedy

For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘hold office’; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.

But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response? Robert Kennedy

A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures  and that is the basis of all human morality.

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. Robert Kennedy

Let us not emphasize all on which we differ but all we have in common. Let us consider not what we fear separately but what we share together.

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily  whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence  whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded. Robert Kennedy

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

We must recognize the full human equality of all our people  before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this not because it is economically advantageous  although it is; not because the laws of God and man command it  although they do command it; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do. Robert Kennedy

I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.

The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. Robert Kennedy

That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make, a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort between national greatness and national decline between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of  normalcy between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

Fear not the path of Truth for the lack of People walking on it. Robert Kennedy

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Government belongs wherever evil needs an adversary and there are people in distress. Robert Kennedy

My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country.

While free markets tend to democratize a society, unfettered capitalism leads invariably to corporate control of government. Robert Kennedy

I have said that control of arms is a mission that we undertake particularly for our children and our grandchildren and that they have no lobby in Washington.

In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit.  Robert Kennedy

If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.

The future does not belong to those who are content with today Rather, it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason, and courage in a personal commitment. Robert Kennedy

Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Robert Kennedy

For one true measure of a nation is its success in fulfilling the promise of a better life for each of its members. Let this be the measure of our nation.

Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle. Robert Kennedy

I have pledged myself and my colleagues in the cabinet to a continuous encouragement of initiative, responsibility and energy in serving the public interest. Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man’s rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget.

The natural state of a human being is dignity. Robert Kennedy

The success of this Government, and thus the success of our Nation, depends in the last analysis upon the quality of our career services.

All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity. Robert Kennedy

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.

I think we can end the divisions within the United States. What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis. And that what has been going on with the United States over the period of that last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions  whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups, or in the war in Vietnam that we can work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country. And I intend to make that my basis for running. Robert Kennedy

Rising tide lifts all boats.

This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease. Robert Kennedy

To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art  this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.

The greatest truth must be recognition that in every man, in every child is the potential for greatness. Robert Kennedy

I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty…an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft.

I think there is an obligation on the part of all of us to stay informed and aware. Robert Kennedy

The Federal Budget can and should be made an instrument of prosperity and stability, not a deterrent to recovery.

Always forgive your enemies, but never forget their names. Robert Kennedy

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining by filling three basic gaps in our anti recession protection.

Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. Robert Kennedy

It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society  in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.

The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present. Robert Kennedy

It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.

Our answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and the obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress. This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease. Robert Kennedy

Now let me make it clear that I believe there can only be one defense policy for the United States and that is summed up in the word ‘first.’ I do not mean first, but. I do not mean first, when. I do not mean first, if. I mean first  period.

Virginia States’ rights, as our forefathers conceived it, was a protection of the right of the individual citizen. Those who preach most frequently about states’ rights today are not those seeking the protection of the individual citizen, but his exploitation. The time is long past  if indeed it ever existed  when we should permit the noble concept of states’ rights to be betrayed. Robert Kennedy

Too often in the past, we have thought of the artist as an idler and dilettante and of the lover of arts as somehow sissy and effete. We have done both an injustice. The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intense application and intense discipline.

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live. Robert Kennedy

I have seen in many places housing which has been developed under government influences, but I have never seen any projects in which governments have played their part which have fountains and statues and grass and trees, which are as important to the concept of the home as the roof itself.

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on. Robert Kennedy

In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.

Just because we cannot see clearly the end of the road, that is no reason for not setting out on the essential journey. On the contrary, great change dominates the world, and unless we move with change we will become its victims. Robert Kennedy

This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country. Robert Kennedy

We celebrate the past to awaken the future.

It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task. Robert Kennedy

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.

It is immoral to see evil and not act on it. Robert Kennedy

I can imagine a no more rewarding career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can. Robert Kennedy

We have become more and more not a nation of athletes but a nation of spectators.

We can master change not though force or fear, but only though the free work of an understanding mind, though an openness to new knowledge and fresh outlooks, which can only strengthen the most fragile and most powerful of human gifts: the gift of reason. Robert Kennedy

When I ran for presidency of the United States, I knew that this country faced serious challenges, but I could not realize  nor could any man realize who does not bear the burdens of this office how heavy and constant would be those burdens.

Men without hope resigned to despair and oppression, do not make revolutions. It is when expectation replaces submission when despair is touched with the awareness of possibility, that the forces of human desire and the passion for justice are unloosed. Robert Kennedy

But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.

What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet. Robert Kennedy

For I can assure you that we love our country, not for what it was, though it has always been great  not for what it is, though of this we are deeply proud  but for what it someday can, and, through the efforts of us all, someday will be.

You’re happiest while you’re making the greatest contribution. Robert Kennedy

But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone.

People are selfish. But they can also be compassionate and generous, and they care about the country. But not when they feel threatened. That’s why this is such a crucial time. We can go in either direction. But if we don’t make a choice soon, it will be too late to turn things around. I think people are willing to make the right choice. But they need leadership. They’re hungry for leadership. Robert Kennedy

Never before has man had such a capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world  or make it the last.

Together, we can make ourselves a nation that spends more on books than on bombs, more on hospitals than the terrible tools of war, more on decent houses than military aircraft. Robert Kennedy

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired. Robert Kennedy

Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in periods of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.

Nations around the world look to us for the leadership not merely by strength of arms but by strength of our convictions. Robert Kennedy

It is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea  whether it is to sail or to watch it  we are going back from whence we came.

The essential humanity of men can be protected and preserved only where the government must answer, not just to the wealthy, not just to those of a particular religion, or a particular race, but to all its people. Robert Kennedy

If you’re searching for famous quotes by presidents of the United States that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of best quotes by Harry S. Truman, famous Franklin D. Roosevelt quotes and greatest John F. Kennedy quotes.

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