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Featuring never before seen archival footage, and interviews in South Africa and the United States, filmmakers Larry Shore and Tami Gold tell the little-known story of Senator Robert Kennedy’s influential June 1966 visit to South Africa during the worst years of Apartheid. The film is a unique portrait of Senator Kennedy in action at an important moment in American and South African history. The filmmakers explore the visit through the sights and sounds of present day South Africa.
Robert Kennedy’s visit gave opponents of Apartheid -- both black and white -- hope and courage to challenge the Apartheid system at a time when they felt isolated and few in the outside world knew what was happening in South Africa. His visit also highlighted the parallels in the fight against racism in South Africa and in the United States, where Martin Luther King Jr., had linked the struggle for Civil Rights with the fight against Apartheid.RFK IN THE LAND OF APARTHEID
follows Kennedy in South Africa during the five-day visit, including his famous “Day of Affirmation” speech at the University of Cape Town on June 6, 1966. The speech is generally considered to be the greatest speech of Robert Kennedy’s career. One paragraph, featuring the “ripple of hope”, is among the most quoted in American politics and appears on Kennedy’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery:"It is from 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 which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Another high point of the film is Kennedy’s meeting with one of the unknown giants of South African and African history – the banned President of the African National Congress and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chief Albert Luthuli, who was living under house arrest in a remote rural area. The film travels with RFK to Soweto, the largest black township, where he meets thousands of people and gives voice to Chief Luthuli’s call for a free South Africa
The film includes interviews with those that accompanied or met with Kennedy on his trip, as well as with Edward Kennedy, and an original soundtrack by American musician Jason Moran.
Robert Kennedy’s actions and words in South Africa were important at the time for one other reason – he publicly challenged the dominant Cold War ideology that anti-Communism should be the only basis for determining American foreign policy, even if it meant supporting repressive regimes. Kennedy demonstrated how it was possible to promote human rights and democracy in an undemocratic society, while engaging in an honest discourse on America's own historical problems and successes.RFK IN THE LAND OF APARTHEID
tells an important story that is relevant to the ongoing struggles for democracy, justice and human rights around the world today.
The companion web site includes information about the film and extensive background and historical materials related to Kennedy’s trip and South Africa, as well as teaching guides for both high school and college classes: http://www.rfksafilm.org