• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Robert F. Kennedy supporter carries on legacy with LA schools

June 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
On California's primary Election Day in 1968, exactly 44 years ago to this day, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel. A supporter, who was there that night, is carrying on the R.F.K. legacy today.

With California's vote counted, Kennedy declared victory in the Democratic presidential primary just after midnight on June 5, 1968. Paul Shrade, a friend and labor chairman of the campaign, was standing near Kennedy during the victory speech, and he was with Kennedy as they walked into the hotel pantry where Kennedy was shot.

As Kennedy lay gravely wounded, he reportedly asked about his friend Paul, who was one of five others who were wounded that night.

Today, Shrade carries on Kennedy's legacy. He is a driving force to transform the 23-acre Ambassador Hotel site into the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, a complex of six schools educating neighborhood students from kindergarten through high school who no longer need to be bused to far away schools.

The Shrade High School library is a recreation of the old ballroom, a fitting tribute to the building project Shrade started 25 years ago.

Shrade is also deeply involved in supporting the contention the R.F.K. assassination was a conspiracy.

"The evidence now is so strong that we can say that Sirhan couldn't and didn't shoot Robert Kennedy," he said.

But on anniversary days like this, Shrade focuses on how the lives of nearly 4,000 students are made better by attending the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools close to their homes.

"I'll think about the school as a way that we've expressed our admiration for Robert Kennedy and doing things about education," Shrade said.