Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late US senator Robert Kennedy, paid tribute to her father at UCT on Saturday at a ceremony to commemorate his landmark “Ripple of Hope” speech 50 years ago.

She presented UCT vice-chancellor Max Price with a bust of her father, while Price presented her with a book about UCT.

Kennedy, the seventh child of Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel, arrived in South Africa on Monday to commemorate her father’s four-day visit in June 1966.

Kerry is leading a large family pilgrimage to South Africa this week to commemorate 50 years since her father’s historic visit here. She is joined by her three daughters, 23 nieces and nephews, and seven members of the US Congress.

Congressman John Lewis – the famous Freedom Rider – and Chris Coons, who worked to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act, are among the congressmen who are retracing the footsteps of RFK in South Africa.

In her keynote address, Kennedy said while her father had fought for civil liberties, today’s generation was fighting for economic liberty and quality education.

“The tentacles of economic injustice are long,” she said.

Kerry, a renowned human rights activist in the US, relayed how RFK proved himself to be a trailblazer in the civil rights movement in their country, and his visit to South Africa helped to inform his work on his return home.

“In our basement, where we spent most of our time, I remember there was a huge standing picture of my father with Albert Luthuli,” Kerry recalled.

She noted how many Americans in 1966 had never heard of apartheid, and there had been a great deal of scepticism about the anti-colonial struggle in the US Congress.

Kennedy was introduced by Graca Machel, the widow of Nelson Mandela.

“When Robert Kennedy visited South Africa in June 1966, the country was on fire,” said Machel. “In 2016, despite (our) enormous challenges, (South Africa) is definitely a better place to live in.”

Other speakers included US ambassador Patrick Gaspard, US congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, University of the Western Cape political scientist Keith Gottschalk, Mpho Tutu van Furth and Lovelyn Nwadeyi.

Lewis said he “knew and truly loved Robert Kennedy”.

Kennedy was the US attorney general in the early 1960s when Lewis became involved in the civil rights movement.

“(He) inspired each and every one of us,” said Lewis to a standing ovation.

The event was to commemorate Kennedy’s speech on June 6, 1966, at Jameson Hall. Kennedy, younger brother of late US president John F Kennedy, was invited by the National Union of South African Students to speak about civil liberty.

According to news reports, he was given a five-minute standing ovation from students.

An extract from his speech adorns his grave in Virginia. It comes from the speech’s most famous passage, which reads:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself,” he said. “But each of us can act to change a small portion of events. And in the confluence of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. 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 ripple build a current that will sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Kennedy, then 42, was assassinated on California on June 6 1968, two years to the day after delivering his speech at UCT, while campaigning for the democratic nomination for the US presidential election.

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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