Based on the recent Netflix/TV show related posts, you’d think I’m on a documentary binge. I don’t think that’s necessarily true or false. The “You also might like…” algorithm based suggestions from Netflix presents these shows that look interesting to watch. Fortunately, my personal preference of wanting to learn things for the sake of knowledge as opposed to studying for the sake of testing taps into many of these suggestions.
This Netflix’s documentary of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) popped into my suggestions feed shortly after finishing the Champions of a Golfer documentary. I’ve never been to interested in the Kennedy’s. My knowledge of them is mainly from reading about a biography of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) and the fact that the Kennedy’s are a major political family. I knew RFK was the younger brother of JFK and had helped JFK tremendously up until JFK’s assassination. However, I had no idea about the history behind RFK. That is until this documentary.
This contains four 1-hour long episodes that traced RFK’s rise to political prominence in 1960 to his own assassination in 1968. What I didn’t know about RFK were the numerous amounts of public policies and progressive political stances he took during this time frame. As backdrop, the 1960s was a turbulent era in US: Vietnam war, Civil Rights Movement, the counter culture of the Hippie Movement and Sexual Liberation in US, and even the farm worker strikes (part of a broader Chicano Movement) in California under Cesar Chavez. All these events are significant in the context of American history. And it’s amazing to see how one powerful individual as RFK worked to not only correct what he thought was immorally wrong but to work to bring equality to an otherwise racist America. In one episode where RFK was touring the ghettos and poor communities in Mississippi, he was remembered for telling his kids that it is also their responsibility to end injustices.
Just reading about RFK in wikipedia, I’m amazed at the amount of different socio-political fields he’s worked in ranging from McCarthyism to labor movements to organized crime to civil rights and the Vietnam war. I think RFK was aware that his “Kennedy” name could be used as a social media tool to show the nation a different aspect to these socio-political movements. As someone remarked in the show, the Kennedy name brought cameras and those cameras showed the nation the plight of the situation. As he began his run for presidency, the video footage of the throngs of people who wanted to shake his hand just shows how popular he was. Similarly, video footage of interviews also showed just how racist white Americans were as well.
In retrospect, RFK might have been the first true modern era populist breaking down barriers of race, religion, and class.