Kerry Kennedy talks about her father at Harvard

Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Kerry Kennedy and MSNBC host Chris Matthews (right) appeared at an event discussing Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy at Harvard.

By Maddie Kilgannon Globe Correspondent 

Kerry Kennedy doesn’t usually enjoy books about her father, but she loves “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit,” the new biography of Robert F. Kennedy by MSNBC host Chris Matthews.

Kennedy made the admission during a discussion at Harvard’s Institute of Politics about her father’s legacy. Just 9 years old when her father was assassinated in 1968, Kennedy said she remembers him as an engaged and loving father who made even political campaigns interesting.


“He knew how to harness outrage and anger and put it towards a positive end,” she said.

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Matthews, the host of “Hardball” on MSNBC, said he admired RFK because, unlike his older brother John F. Kennedy, Bobby was slightly awkward. Politics — and politicking — didn’t come as easily to him.

Kennedy agreed, telling the crowd that her father used to listen to Shakespeare while he shaved, and constantly challenged himself and his children to broaden their knowledge. Monday’s conversation was moderated by MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle.

Kerry Kennedy, the seventh of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s 11 children, is a writer, activist, and president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

“When Jack died a lot of people said to daddy that they had lost hope,” she said. “And my father was sympathetic to that, but he didn’t believe it. He really thought that you had to learn the lesson’s from Jack’s life and carry them forward.”


Matthews lamented the current state of the Democratic Party and said he’s “not necessarily” hopeful that’ll change soon. Asked how it can be fixed, Matthews paused and then said “listen to me.” Kennedy laughed.

“If I didn’t believe it I wouldn’t say it,” Matthews said.