Press Release

RFK Funeral Train
Photographs by Paul Fusco

My brother need not be idealized,or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life,to be remembered simply as a good and decent man,who saw wrong and tried to right it,saw suffering and tried to heal it,saw war and tried to stop it.

—Senator Edward M.Kennedy

In 1968, New York’s Senator Robert F. Kennedy was running for presidency, and looked like he might be on his way to victory. On June 5, after winning the State’s Democratic primary race, he was assassinated in California. On June 8 his funeral took place at St.Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC. In tribute to Robert Kennedy’s raw empathy, his determination to make our lives better, and his insistence that the government is answerable to all — black and white, rich and poor — hundreds of thousands of people stood patiently in the searing heat on that June day, to watch his funeral train travel slowly from New York to Washington, D.C., just as Abraham Lincoln’s had, 103 years before. The coffin was placed in the last carriage, elevated on two chairs hence visible through large observation windows. Paul Fusco accompanied the funeral train, and photographed the silent, mourning crowds from the passing train. The result, brought to light over thirty years later, is an emotionally moving snapshot of America at a crucial moment of transition. An essay by Norman Mailer, as well as a retelling of the events surrounding the funeral of RFK by prizewinning Newsweek editor Evan Thomas, join the tribute given by Edward M.Kennedy, to capture how this man and his vision of American touched us with idealism and humanity.

Because Fusco was in motion, many of his photos alternate gorgeous passages of blur with sharp focus,as if in movie’s dream sequence.… Fusco’s casual combination of real emotion and spontaneous theatricality could not be more of the moment —or more timeless.

—Vince Aletti,in the Village Voice Literary Supplement


PAUL FUSCO, then a staff photographer for Look magazine, accompanied Robert F. Kennedy`s funeral train from New York to Washington, D.C. in June 1968. A member of Magnum Photos since 1973, Fusco`s work deals with social issues worldwide, including essays on the reform of migrant labor practices, coal miners in Applachia, people living with AIDS, residents in the Mexican state of Chiapas, and an ongoing project on children suffering from radiation from Chernobyl.

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