“So Long, Bobby”
In June 1968, just a few days after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in a Los Angeles ballroom following his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary, Look magazine assigned Magnum photographer Paul Fusco to ride on the train that would carry RFK’s coffin between New York’s Penn Station and the slain presidential candidate’s final resting place alongside his brother John in Arlington National Cemetery.
“When the train first came out of the tunnels, the first thing I saw was hundreds of people in mourning,” Fusco told an interviewer in 2010. For the journey, the photographer aimed his lens outside the train’s windows and captured a diverse cross-section of a nation united by grief. It was classic Magnum, an international photocooperative dedicated to looking past the sensational and documenting, on a deeper level, the spirit of the times.
As part of the 70th anniversary celebration for the renowned photo agency, founded by legendary photographer Robert Capa, the
International Center of Photography in New York City is currently hosting the Magnum Manifesto exhibit, a collection of prints, books, magazines, and archival materials, including Fusco’s RFK funeral train series.
“Most of us hide most of the time, and we don’t really want people aware of what we’re feeling and what’s going on in our heads,” Fusco said when recalling the ride on which he captured mourners
holding signs saying “So long, Bobby,” holding their hands over their hearts, falling to their knees in grief, waving hats, and standing tall offering the passing train and the slain dignitary inside a salute. “But that day, very few people were hiding. It was a consistent wave, [a] torrent of emotions without interruption.”