August 28, 1963
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for
freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation
Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves
who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long
night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation
and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of
poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is
still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's
capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every
American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inaLienable rights of life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note
insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.
Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has
come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this
So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and
the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce
urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing
drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the
sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's
children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the
determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass
until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but
a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have
a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility
in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of
justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold
which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be
guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup
of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow
our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic
heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all
white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to
realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our
We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot
turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?"
we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging
in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the
Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as
a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and
righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you
have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left
you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have
been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the
slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the
difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We
hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on
the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to
sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi,
a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis
of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they
will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with
the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black
boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk
together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall
be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the
crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith
we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able
to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this
faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together,
to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country,
'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's
pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must
become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from
the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks
of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring
from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state
and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white
men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words
of the old Negro spiritual,
Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
January 20, 2009
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of
the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as
the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides
of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds
and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of
those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers,
and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching
network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility
on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new
age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools
fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries
and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound
is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and
that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will
not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations
and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that
precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all
are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be
earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for
the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and
fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more
often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards
prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so
that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions;
greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our
workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods
and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains
undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant
decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off,
and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and
swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will
build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us
together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health
care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars
and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the
demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot
tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has
already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and
necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale
political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is
not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps famiLies
find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is
yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage
the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business
in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate
wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye,
the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the
prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic
Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing
heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our
Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of
law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the
world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments
who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know
that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and
dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earLier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but
with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect
us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its
prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the
tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats
that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will
begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old
friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter
of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and
for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you
now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians
and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn
from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation,
and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old
hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows
smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering
in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those
leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know
that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to
power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side
of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let
clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours
that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our
borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed,
and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans
who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us,
just as the fallen heroes who Lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because
they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find
meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a
generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the
American people upon which this nation reLies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the
levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose
their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway
filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon
which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity,
loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force
of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required
of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have
duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather
seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of
our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and
every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than
sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a
most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of
America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the
shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with
blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation
ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue
could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these
timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms
may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this
journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's
grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future
Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
May 25, 1961
Special joint session of Congress.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, my copartners in Government, gentlemen-and ladies:
The Constitution imposes upon me the obligation to "from time to time give to the Congress information
of the State of the Union." While this has traditionally been interpreted as an annual affair, this
tradition has been broken in extraordinary times.
These are extraordinary times. And we face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength as well as our
convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of leader in freedom's cause.
No role in history could be more difficult or more important. We stand for freedom.
That is our conviction for ourselves--that is our only commitment to others. No friend, no neutral and
no adversary should think otherwise. We are not against any man--or any nation--or any system--except
as it is hostile to freedom. Nor am I here to present a new military doctrine, bearing any one name or
aimed at any one area. I am here to promote the freedom doctrine.
The great battleground for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the whole southern half of the
globe--Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East--the lands of the rising peoples. Their
revolution is the greatest in human history. They seek an end to injustice, tyranny, and exploitation.
More than an end, they seek a beginning.
And theirs is a revolution which we would support regardless of the Cold War, and regardless of which
political or economic route they should choose to freedom.
For the adversaries of freedom did not create the revolution; nor did they create the conditions which
compel it. But they are seeking to ride the crest of its wave--to capture it for themselves.
Yet their aggression is more often concealed than open. They have fired no missiles; and their troops
are seldom seen. They send arms, agitators, aid, technicians and propaganda to every troubled area. But
where fighting is required, it is usually done by others--by guerrillas striking at night, by assassins
striking alone--assassins who have taken the lives of four thousand civil officers in the last twelve
months in Vietnam alone--by subversives and saboteurs and insurrectionists, who in some cases control
whole areas inside of independent nations.
[At this point the following paragraph, which appears in the text as signed and transmitted to the
Senate and House of Representatives, was omitted in the reading of the message:
They possess a powerful intercontinental striking force, large forces for conventional war, a
well-trained underground in nearly every country, the power to conscript talent and manpower for
any purpose, the capacity for quick decisions, a closed society without dissent or free information,
and long experience in the techniques of violence and subversion. They make the most of their
scientific successes, their economic progress and their pose as a foe of colonialism and friend of
popular revolution. They prey on unstable or unpopular governments, unsealed, or unknown boundaries,
unfilled hopes, convulsive change, massive poverty, illiteracy, unrest and frustration.]
With these formidable weapons, the adversaries of freedom plan to consolidate their territory--to
exploit, to control, and finally to destroy the hopes of the world's newest nations; and they have
ambition to do it before the end of this decade. It is a contest of will and purpose as well as force
and violence--a battle for minds and souls as well as lives and territory. And in that contest, we
cannot stand aside.
We stand, as we have always stood from our earLiest beginnings, for the independence and equality of
all nations. This nation was born of revolution and raised in freedom. And we do not intend to leave
an open road for despotism.
There is no single simple policy which meets this challenge. Experience has taught us that no one
nation has the power or the wisdom to solve all the problems of the world or manage its revolutionary
tides--that extending our commitments does not always increase our security--that any initiative
carries with it the risk of a temporary defeat--that nuclear weapons cannot prevent subversion--that
no free people can be kept free without will and energy of their own--and that no two nations or
situations are exactly alike.
Yet there is much we can do--and must do. The proposals I bring before you are numerous and varied.
They arise from the host of special opportunities and dangers which have become increasingly clear in
recent months. Taken together, I believe that they can mark another step forward in our effort as a
people. I am here to ask the help of this Congress and the nation in approving these necessary
II. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS AT HOME
The first and basic task confronting this nation this year was to turn recession into recovery. An
affirmative anti-recession program, initiated with your cooperation, supported the natural forces in
the private sector; and our economy is now enjoying renewed confidence and energy. The recession has
been halted. Recovery is under way.
But the task of abating unemployment and achieving a full use of our resources does remain a serious
challenge for us all. Large-scale unemployment during a recession is bad enough, but large-scale
unemployment during a period of prosperity would be intolerable.
I am therefore transmitting to the Congress a new Manpower Development and Training program, to train
or retrain several hundred thousand workers, particularly in those areas where we have seen chronic
unemployment as a result of technological factors in new occupational skills over a four-year period,
in order to replace those skills made obsolete by automation and industrial change with the new skills
which the new processes demand.
It should be a satisfaction to us all that we have made great strides in restoring world confidence in
the dollar, halting the outflow of gold and improving our balance of payments. During the last two
months, our gold stocks actually increased by seventeen million dollars, compared to a loss of 635
million dollars during the last two months of 1960. We must maintain this progress--and this will
require the cooperation and restraint of everyone. As recovery progresses, there will be temptations
to seek unjustified price and wage increases. These we cannot afford. They will only handicap our
efforts to compete abroad and to achieve full recovery here at home. Labor and management must--and
I am confident that they will--pursue responsible wage and price policies in these critical times. I
look to the President's Advisory Committee on Labor Management Policy to give a strong lead in this
Moreover, if the budget deficit now increased by the needs of our security is to be held within
manageable proportions, it will be necessary to hold tightly to prudent fiscal standards; and I
request the cooperation of the Congress in this regard--to refrain from adding funds or programs,
desirable as they may be, to the Budget--to end the postal deficit, as my predecessor also recommended,
through increased rates--a deficit incidentally, this year, which exceeds the fiscal 1962 cost of all
the space and defense measures that I am submitting today--to provide full pay-as-you-go highway
financing--and to close those tax loopholes earLier specified. Our security and progress cannot be
cheaply purchased; and their price must be found in what we all forego as well as what we all must
III. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS ABROAD
I stress the strength of our economy because it is essential to the strength of our nation. And what
is true in our case is true in the case of other countries. Their strength in the struggle for freedom
depends on the strength of their economic and their social progress.
We would be badly mistaken to consider their problems in military terms alone. For no amount of arms
and armies can help stabilize those governments which are unable or unwilling to achieve social and
economic reform and development. Military pacts cannot help nations whose social injustice and economic
chaos invite insurgency and penetration and subversion. The most skillful counter-guerrilla efforts
cannot succeed where the local population is too caught up in its own misery to be concerned about the
advance of communism.
But for those who share this view, we stand ready now, as we have in the past, to provide generously
of our skills, and our capital, and our food to assist the peoples of the less-developed nations to
reach their goals in freedom--to help them before they are engulfed in crisis.
This is also our great opportunity in 1961. If we grasp it, then subversion to prevent its success is
exposed as an unjustifiable attempt to keep these nations from either being free or equal. But if we
do not pursue it, and if they do not pursue it, the bankruptcy of unstable governments, one by one,
and of unfilled hopes will surely lead to a series of totalitarian receiverships.
EarLier in the year, I outlined to the Congress a new program for aiding emerging nations; and it is
my intention to transmit shortly draft legislation to implement this program, to establish a new Act
for International Development, and to add to the figures previously requested, in view of the swift
pace of critical events, an additional 250 million dollars for a Presidential Contingency Fund, to be
used only upon a Presidential determination in each case, with regular and complete reports to the
Congress in each case, when there is a sudden and extraordinary drain upon our regular funds which we
cannot foresee--as illustrated by recent events in Southeast Asia--and it makes necessary the use of
this emergency reserve. The total amount requested--now raised to 2..65 billion dollars--is both
minimal and crucial. I do not see how anyone who is concerned--as we all are--about the growing
threats to freedom around the globe--and who is asking what more we can do as a people--can weaken or
oppose the single most important program available for building the frontiers of freedom.
All that I have said makes it clear that we are engaged in a world-wide struggle in which we bear a
heavy burden to preserve and promote the ideals that we share with all mankind, or have aLien ideals
forced upon them. That struggle has highlighted the role of our Information Agency. It is essential
that the funds previously requested for this effort be not only approved in full, but increased by 2
million, 400 thousand dollars, to a total of 121 million dollars.
This new request is for additional radio and television to Latin America and Southeast Asia. These
tools are particularly effective and essential in the cities and villages of those great continents
as a means of reaching millions of uncertain peoples to tell them of our interest in their fight for
freedom. In Latin America, we are proposing to increase our Spanish and Portuguese broadcasts to a
total of 154 hours a week, compared to 42 hours today, none of which is in Portuguese, the language
of about one-third of the people of South America. The Soviets, Red Chinese and satellites already
broadcast into Latin America more than 134 hours a week in Spanish and Portuguese. Communist China
alone does more public information broadcasting in our own hemisphere than we do. Moreover, powerful
propaganda broadcasts from Havana now are heard throughout Latin America, encouraging new revolutions
in several countries.
Similarly, in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, we must communicate our determination and support
to those upon whom our hopes for resisting the communist tide in that continent ultimately depend. Our
interest is in the truth.
V. OUR PARTNERSHIP FOR SELF-DEFENSE
But while we talk of sharing and building and the competition of ideas, others talk of arms and
threaten war. So we have learned to keep our defenses strong--and to cooperate with others in a
partnership of self-defense. The events of recent weeks have caused us to look anew at these efforts.
The center of freedom's defense is our network of world alliances, extending from NATO, recommended by
a Democratic President and approved by a Republican Congress, to SEATO, recommended by a Republican
President and approved by a Democratic Congress. These alliances were constructed in the 1940's and
1950's--it is our task and responsibility in the 1960's to strengthen them.
To meet the changing conditions of power--and power relationships have changed--we have endorsed an
increased emphasis on NATO's conventional strength. At the same time we are affirming our conviction
that the NATO nuclear deterrent must also be kept strong. I have made clear our intention to commit to
the NATO command, for this purpose, the 5 Polaris submarines originally suggested by President
Eisenhower, with the possibility, if needed, of more to come.
Second, a major part of our partnership for self-defense is the Military Assistance Program. The main
burden of local defense against local attack, subversion, insurrection or guerrilla warfare must of
necessity rest with local forces. Where these forces have the necessary will and capacity to cope with
such threats, our intervention is rarely necessary or helpful. Where the will is present and only
capacity is lacking, our Military Assistance Program can be of help.
But this program, like economic assistance, needs a new emphasis. It cannot be extended without regard
to the social, political and military reforms essential to internal respect and stability. The
equipment and training provided must be tailored to legitimate local needs and to our own foreign and
military policies, not to our supply of military stocks or a local leader's desire for military
display. And military assistance can, in addition to its military purposes, make a contribution to
economic progress, as do our own Army Engineers.
In an earLier message, I requested 1.6 billion dollars for Military Assistance, stating that this would
maintain existing force levels, but that I could not foresee how much more might be required. It is now
clear that this is not enough. The present crisis in Southeast Asia, on which the Vice President has
made a valuable report--the rising threat of communism in Latin America--the increased arms traffic in
Africa--and all the new pressures on every nation found on the map by tracing your fingers along the
borders of the Communist bloc in Asia and the Middle East--all make clear the dimension of our needs.
I therefore request the Congress to provide a total of 1.885 billion dollars for Military Assistance
in the coming fiscal year--an amount less than that requested a year ago--but a minimum which must be
assured if we are to help those nations make secure their independence. This must be prudently and
wisely spent--and that will be our common endeavor. Military and economic assistance has been a heavy
burden on our citizens for a long time, and I recognize the strong pressures against it; but this
battle is far from over, it is reaching a crucial stage, and I believe we should participate in it. We
cannot merely state our opposition to totalitarian advance without paying the price of helping those
now under the greatest pressure.
VI. OUR OWN MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE SHIELD
In line with these developments, I have directed a further reinforcement of our own capacity to deter
or resist non-nuclear aggression. In the conventional field, with one exception, I find no present need
for large new levies of men. What is needed is rather a change of position to give us still further
increases in flexibility.
Therefore, I am directing the Secretary of Defense to undertake a reorganization and modernization of
the Army's divisional structure, to increase its non-nuclear firepower, to improve its tactical
mobility in any environment, to insure its flexibility to meet any direct or indirect threat, to
facilitate its coordination with our major alLies, and to provide more modern mechanized divisions
in Europe and bring their equipment up to date, and new airborne brigades in both the Pacific and
And secondly, I am asking the Congress for an additional 100 million dollars to begin the procurement
task necessary to re-equip this new Army structure with the most modern material. New helicopters, new
armored personnel carriers, and new howitzers, for example, must be obtained now.
Third, I am directing the Secretary of Defense to expand rapidly and substantially, in cooperation
with our AlLies, the orientation of existing forces for the conduct of non-nuclear war, paramilitary
operations and sub-limited or unconventional wars.
In addition our special forces and unconventional warfare units will be increased and reoriented.
Throughout the services new emphasis must be placed on the special skills and languages which are
required to work with local populations.
Fourth, the Army is developing plans to make possible a much more rapid deployment of a major portion
of its highly trained reserve forces. When these plans are completed and the reserve is strengthened,
two combat-equipped divisions, plus their supporting forces, a total of 89,000 men, could be ready in
an emergency for operations with but 3 weeks' notice--2 more divisions with but 5 weeks' notice--and
six additional divisions and their supporting forces, making a total of 10 divisions, could be
deployable with less than 8 weeks' notice. In short, these new plans will allow us to almost double
the combat power of the Army in less than two months, compared to the nearly nine months heretofore
Fifth, to enhance the already formidable ability of the Marine Corps to respond to limited war
emergencies, I am asking the Congress for 60 million dollars to increase the Marine Corps strength
to 190,000 men. This will increase the initial impact and staying power of our three Marine divisions
and three air wings, and provide a trained nucleus for further expansion, if necessary for
self-defense. Finally, to cite one other area of activities that are both legitimate and necessary
as a means of self-defense in an age of hidden perils, our whole intelligence effort must be reviewed,
and its coordination with other elements of policy assured. The Congress and the American people are
entitled to know that we will institute whatever new organization, policies, and control are
VII. CIVIL DEFENSE
One major element of the national security program which this nation has never squarely faced up to is
civil defense. This problem arises not from present trends but from national inaction in which most of
us have participated. In the past decade we have intermittently considered a variety of programs, but
we have never adopted a consistent policy. Public considerations have been largely characterized by
apathy, indifference and skepticism; while, at the same time, many of the civil defense plans have been
so far-reaching and unrealistic that they have not gained essential support.
This Administration has been looking hard at exactly what civil defense can and cannot do. It cannot
be obtained cheaply. It cannot give an assurance of blast protection that will be proof against
surprise attack or guaranteed against obsolescence or destruction. And it cannot deter a nuclear
We will deter an enemy from making a nuclear attack only if our retaliatory power is so strong and so
invulnerable that he knows he would be destroyed by our response. If we have that strength, civil
defense is not needed to deter an attack. If we should ever lack it, civil defense would not be an
But this deterrent concept assumes rational calculations by rational men. And the history of this
planet, and particularly the history of the 20th century, is sufficient to remind us of the
possibilities of an irrational attack, a miscalculation, an accidental war, [or a war of escalation
in which the stakes by each side gradually increase to the point of maximum danger] which cannot be
either foreseen or deterred. It is on this basis that civil defense can be readily justifiable--as
insurance for the civilian population in case of an enemy miscalculation. It is insurance we trust
will never be needed--but insurance which we could never forgive ourselves for foregoing in the event
Once the validity of this concept is recognized, there is no point in delaying the initiation of a
nation-wide long-range program of identifying present fallout shelter capacity and providing shelter
in new and existing structures. Such a program would protect millions of people against the hazards
of radioactive fallout in the event of large-scale nuclear attack. Effective performance of the entire
program not only requires new legislative authority and more funds, but also sound organizational
Therefore, under the authority vested in me by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, I am assigning
responsibility for this program to the top civilian authority already responsible for continental
defense, the Secretary of Defense. It is important that this function remain civilian, in nature and
leadership; and this feature will not be changed.
The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization will be reconstituted as a small staff agency to assist
in the coordination of these functions. To more accurately describe its role, its title should be
changed to the Office of Emergency Planning.
As soon as those newly charged with these responsibilities have prepared new authorization and
appropriation requests, such requests will be transmitted to the Congress for a much strengthened
Federal-State civil defense program. Such a program will provide Federal funds for identifying
fallout shelter capacity in existing, structures, and it will include, where appropriate, incorporation
of shelter in Federal buildings, new requirements for shelter in buildings constructed with Federal
assistance, and matching grants and other incentives for constructing shelter in State and local and
Federal appropriations for civil defense in fiscal 1962 under this program will in all likelihood be
more than triple the pending budget requests; and they will increase sharply in subsequent years.
Financial participation will also be required from State and local governments and from private
citizens. But no insurance is cost-free; and every American citizen and his community must decide for
themselves whether this form of survival insurance justifies the expenditure of effort, time and money.
For myself, I am convinced that it does.
I cannot end this discussion of defense and armaments without emphasizing our strongest hope: the
creation of an orderly world where disarmament will be possible. Our aims do not prepare for war--they
are efforts to discourage and resist the adventures of others that could end in war.
That is why it is consistent with these efforts that we continue to press for properly safeguarded
disarmament measures. At Geneva, in cooperation with the United Kingdom, we have put forward concrete
proposals to make clear our wish to meet the Soviets half way in an effective nuclear test ban
treaty--the first significant but essential step on the road towards disarmament. Up to now, their
response has not been what we hoped, but Mr. Dean returned last night to Geneva, and we intend to go
the last mile in patience to secure this gain if we can.
Meanwhile, we are determined to keep disarmament high on our agenda--to make an intensified effort to
develop acceptable political and technical alternatives to the present arms race. To this end I shall
send to the Congress a measure to establish a strengthened and enlarged Disarmament Agency.
Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and
tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to
us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who
are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our
efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the
National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed
and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American
enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many
ways may hold the key to our future on earth.
I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we
have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such
leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our
resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.
Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them
many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time
to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our
own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure
to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the
world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are
successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its
meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must
undertake, free men must fully share.
I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earLier requested for space
activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is
out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in
this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of
space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the
development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid
fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose
additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are
particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man
who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the
moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work
to put him there.
Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will
accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means
for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the
very end of the solar system itself.
Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating
the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.
Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars--of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau--will
help give us at the earLiest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.
Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be
clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of
action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in
fiscal '62--an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are
to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better
not to go at all.
Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the
Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter
It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last
four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict
with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members
of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given
attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing
or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared
to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and
This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and
facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are
already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not
always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work
stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover
of key personnel.
New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them
further--unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and
civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of
freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.
In conclusion, let me emphasize one point. It is not a pleasure for any President of the United
States, as I am sure it was not a pleasure for my predecessors, to come before the Congress and ask
for new appropriations which place burdens on our people. I came to this conclusion with some
reluctance. But in my judgment, this is a most serious time in the life of our country and in the life
of freedom around the globe, and it is the obligation, I believe, of the President of the United States
to at least make his recommendations to the Members of the Congress, so that they can reach their own
conclusions with that judgment before them. You must decide yourselves, as I have decided, and I am
confident that whether you finally decide in the way that I have decided or not, that your judgment--as
my judgment--is reached on what is in the best interests of our country.
In conclusion, let me emphasize one point: that we are determined, as a nation in 1961 that freedom
shall survive and succeed--and whatever the peril and set-backs, we have some very large advantages.
The first is the simple fact that we are on the side of liberty--and since the beginning of history,
and particularly since the end of the Second World War, liberty has been winning out all over the
A second real asset is that we are not alone. We have friends and alLies all over the world who share
our devotion to freedom. May I cite as a symbol of traditional and effective friendship the great ally
I am about to visit--France. I look forward to my visit to France, and to my discussion with a great
Captain of the Western World, President de Gaulle, as a meeting of particular significance, permitting
the kind of close and ranging consultation that will strengthen both our countries and serve the common
purposes of world-wide peace and liberty. Such serious conversations do not require a pale
unanimity--they are rather the instruments of trust and understanding over a long road.
A third asset is our desire for peace. It is sincere, and I believe the world knows it. We are proving
it in our patience at the test ban table, and we are proving it in the UN where our efforts have been
directed to maintaining that organization's usefulness as a protector of the independence of small
nations. In these and other instances, the response of our opponents has not been encouraging.
Yet it is important to know that our patience at the bargaining table is nearly inexhaustible, though
our credulity is limited that our hopes for peace are unfailing, while our determination to protect our
security is resolute. For these reasons I have long thought it wise to meet with the Soviet Premier for
a personal exchange of views. A meeting in Vienna turned out to be convenient for us both; and the
Austrian government has kindly made us welcome. No formal agenda is planned and no negotiations will be
undertaken; but we will make clear America's enduring concern is for both peace and freedom--that we
are anxious to live in harmony with the Russian people--that we seek no conquests, no satellites, no
riches--that we seek only the day when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall
they learn war any more."
Finally, our greatest asset in this struggle is the American people--their willingness to pay the
price for these programs--to understand and accept a long struggle--to share their resources with
other less fortunate people--to meet the tax levels and close the tax loopholes I have requested--to
exercise self-restraint instead of pushing up wages or prices, or over-producing certain crops, or
spreading military secrets, or urging unessential expenditures or improper monopoLies or harmful work
stoppages--to serve in the Peace Corps or the Armed Services or the Federal Civil Service or the
Congress--to strive for excellence in their schools, in their cities and in their physical fitness and
that of their children--to take part in Civil Defense--to pay higher postal rates, and higher payroll
taxes and higher teachers' salaries, in order to strengthen our society--to show friendship to
students and visitors from other lands who visit us and go back in many cases to be the future
leaders, with an image of America--and I want that image, and I know you do, to be affirmative and
positive--and, finally, to practice democracy at home, in all States, with all races, to respect each
other and to protect the Constitutional rights of all citizens.
I have not asked for a single program which did not cause one or all Americans some inconvenience, or
some hardship, or some sacrifice. But they have responded and you in the Congress have responded to
your duty--and I feel confident in asking today for a similar response to these new and larger
demands. It is heartening to know, as I journey abroad, that our country is united in its commitment
to freedom and is ready to do its duty.
August 8, 1942
Before you discuss the resolution, let me place before you one or two things, I want you to understand
two things very clearly and to consider them from the same point of view from which I am placing them
before you. I ask you to consider it from my point of view, because if you approve of it, you will be
enjoined to carry out all I say. It will be a great responsibility. There are people who ask me
whether I am the same man that I was in 1920, or whether there has been any change in me. You are
right in asking that question.
Let me, however, hasten to assure that I am the same Gandhi as I was in 1920. I have not changed in
any fundamental respect. I attach the same importance to non-violence that I did then. If at all, my
emphasis on it has grown stronger. There is no real contradiction between the present resolution and
my previous writings and utterances.
Occasions like the present do not occur in everybody's and but rarely in anybody's life. I want you to
know and feel that there is nothing but purest Ahimsa1 in all that I am saying and doing today. The
draft resolution of the Working Committee is based on Ahimsa, the contemplated struggle similarly has
its roots in Ahimsa. If, therefore, there is any among you who has lost faith in Ahimsa or is wearied
of it, let him not vote for this resolution.
Let me explain my position clearly. God has vouchsafed to me a priceless gift in the weapon of Ahimsa.
I and my Ahimsa are on our trail today. If in the present crisis, when the earth is being scorched by
the flames of Himsa2 and crying for deliverance, I failed to make use of the God given talent, God
will not forgive me and I shall be judged un-wrongly of the great gift. I must act now. I may not
hesitate and merely look on, when Russia and China are threatened.
Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India's independence. In a violent
struggle, a successful general has been often known to effect a military coup and to set up a
dictatorship. But under the Congress scheme of things, essentially non-violent as it is, there can be
no room for dictatorship. A non-violent soldier of freedom will covet nothing for himself, he fights
only for the freedom of his country. The Congress is unconcerned as to who will rule, when freedom is
attained. The power, when it comes, will belong to the people of India, and it will be for them to
decide to whom it placed in the entrusted. May be that the reins will be placed in the hands of the
Parsis, for instance-as I would love to see happen-or they may be handed to some others whose names
are not heard in the Congress today. It will not be for you then to object saying, "This community is
microscopic. That party did not play its due part in the freedom's struggle; why should it have all
the power?" Ever since its inception the Congress has kept itself meticulously free of the communal
taint. It has thought always in terms of the whole nation and has acted accordingly. . .
I know how imperfect our Ahimsa is and how far away we are still from the ideal, but in Ahimsa there
is no final failure or defeat. I have faith, therefore, that if, in spite of our shortcomings, the big
thing does happen, it will be because God wanted to help us by crowning with success our silent,
unremitting Sadhana1 for the last twenty-two years.
I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle
for freedom than ours. I read Carlyle's French Resolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal
has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these
struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the
democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom
for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite
you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and
think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.
Then, there is the question of your attitude towards the British. I have noticed that there is hatred
towards the British among the people. The people say they are disgusted with their behaviour. The
people make no distinction between British imperialism and the British people. To them, the two are
one This hatred would even make them welcome the Japanese. It is most dangerous. It means that they
will exchange one slavery for another. We must get rid of this feeling. Our quarrel is not with the
British people, we fight their imperialism. The proposal for the withdrawal of British power did not
come out of anger. It came to enable India to play its due part at the present critical juncture It is
not a happy position for a big country like India to be merely helping with money and material
obtained willy-nilly from her while the United Nations are conducting the war. We cannot evoke the
true spirit of sacrifice and velour, so long as we are not free. I know the British Government will
not be able to withhold freedom from us, when we have made enough self-sacrifice. We must, therefore,
purge ourselves of hatred. Speaking for myself, I can say that I have never felt any hatred. As a
matter of fact, I feel myself to be a greater friend of the British now than ever before. One reason
is that they are today in distress. My very friendship, therefore, demands that I should try to save
them from their mistakes. As I view the situation, they are on the brink of an abyss. It, therefore,
becomes my duty to warn them of their danger even though it may, for the time being, anger them to the
point of cutting off the friendly hand that is stretched out to help them. People may laugh,
nevertheless that is my claim. At a time when I may have to launch the biggest struggle of my life, I
may not harbour hatred against anybody.
April 3, 1964
Mr. Moderator, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies: I just can't believe everyone
in here is a friend, and I don't want to leave anybody out. The question tonight, as I understand it,
The Negro Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here? or
What Next? In my little humble way of
understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet.
Before we try and explain what is meant by the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify something
concerning myself. I'm still a Muslim; my religion is still Islam. That's my personal belief. Just as
Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister who heads the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, but
at the same time takes part in the political struggles to try and bring about rights to the black
people in this country; and Dr. Martin Luther King is a Christian minister down in Atlanta, Georgia,
who heads another organization fighting for the civil rights of black people in this country; and
Reverend Galamison, I guess you've heard of him, is another Christian minister in New York who has
been deeply involved in the school boycotts to eliminate segregated education; well, I myself am a
minister, not a Christian minister, but a Muslim minister; and I believe in action on all fronts by
whatever means necessary.
Although I'm still a Muslim, I'm not here tonight to discuss my religion. I'm not here to try and
change your religion. I'm not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it's
time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have
the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you're a Baptist,
or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist. Whether you're educated or illiterate, whether you live
on the boulevard or in the alley, you're going to catch hell just like I am. We're all in the same
boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man.
All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man,
economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white
Now in speaking like this, it doesn't mean that we're anti-white, but it does mean we're
anti-exploitation, we're anti-degradation, we're anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn't want
us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians
or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If
we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything
to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man. If the late President Kennedy could get
together with Khrushchev and exchange some wheat, we certainly have more in common with each other
than Kennedy and Khrushchev had with each other.
If we don't do something real soon, I think you'll have to agree that we're going to be forced either
to use the ballot or the bullet. It's one or the other in 1964. It isn't that time is running out -
time has run out!
1964 threatens to be the most explosive year America has ever witnessed. The most explosive year.
Why? It's also a political year. It's the year when all of the white politicians will be back in the
so-called Negro community jiving you and me for some votes. The year when all of the white political
crooks will be right back in your and my community with their false promises, building up our hopes
for a letdown, with their trickery and their treachery, with their false promises which they don't
intend to keep. As they nourish these dissatisfactions, it can only lead to one thing, an explosion;
and now we have the type of black man on the scene in America today - I'm sorry, Brother Lomax - who
just doesn't intend to turn the other cheek any longer.
Don't let anybody tell you anything about the odds are against you. If they draft you, they send you
to Korea and make you face 800 million Chinese. If you can be brave over there, you can be brave right
here. These odds aren't as great as those odds. And if you fight here, you will at least know what
you're fighting for.
I'm not a politician, not even a student of politics; in fact, I'm not a student of much of anything.
I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican, and I don't even consider myself an American. If you and I
were Americans, there'd be no problem. Those Honkies that just got off the boat, they're already
Americans; Polacks are already Americans; the Italian refugees are already Americans. Everything that
came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been
over here, we aren't Americans yet.
Well, I am one who doesn't believe in deluding myself. I'm not going to sit at your table and watch
you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a
diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an
American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American,
you wouldn't need any legislation; you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn't
be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now. They don't have to pass
civil-rights legislation to make a Polack an American.
No, I'm not an American. I'm one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism.
One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy.
So, I'm not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a
flag-waver - no, not I. I'm speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through
the eyes of the victim. I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.
These 22 million victims are waking up. Their eyes are coming open. They're beginning to see what
they used to only look at. They're becoming politically mature. They are realizing that there are new
political trends from coast to coast. As they see these new political trends, it's possible for them
to see that every time there's an election the races are so close that they have to have a recount.
They had to recount in Massachusetts to see who was going to be governor, it was so close. It was the
same way in Rhode Island, in Minnesota, and in many other parts of the country. And the same with
Kennedy and Nixon when they ran for president. It was so close they had to count all over again.
Well, what does this mean? It means that when white people are evenly divided, and black people have
a bloc of votes of their own, it is left up to them to determine who's going to sit in the White
House and who's going to be in the dog house.
lt. was the black man's vote that put the present administration in Washington, D.C. Your vote, your
dumb vote, your ignorant vote, your wasted vote put in an administration in Washington, D.C., that has
seen fit to pass every kind of legislation imaginable, saving you until last, then filibustering on
top of that. And your and my leaders have the audacity to run around clapping their hands and talk
about how much progress we're making. And what a good president we have. If he wasn't good in Texas,
he sure can't be good in Washington, D.C. Because Texas is a lynch state. It is in the same breath as
Mississippi, no different; only they lynch you in Texas with a Texas accent and lynch you in
Mississippi with a Mississippi accent. And these Negro leaders have the audacity to go and have some
coffee in the White House with a Texan, a Southern cracker - that's all he is - and then come out and
tell you and me that he's going to be better for us because, since he's from the South, he knows how
to deal with the Southerners. What kind of logic is that? Let Eastland be president, he's from the
South too. He should be better able to deal with them than Johnson.
In this present administration they have in the House of Representatives 257 Democrats to only 177
Republicans. They control two-thirds of the House vote. Why can't they pass something that will help
you and me? In the Senate, there are 67 senators who are of the Democratic Party. Only 33 of them are
Republicans. Why, the Democrats have got the government sewed up, and you're the one who sewed it up
for them. And what have they given you for it? Four years in office, and just now getting around to
some civil-rights legislation. Just now, after everything else is gone, out of the way, they're going
to sit down now and play with you all summer long - the same old giant con game that they call
filibuster. All those are in cahoots together. Don't you ever think they're not in cahoots together,
for the man that is heading the civil-rights filibuster is a man from Georgia named Richard Russell.
When Johnson became president, the first man he asked for when he got back to Washington, D.C., was
Dicky - that's how tight they are. That's his boy, that's his pal, that's his buddy. But they're
playing that old con game. One of them makes believe he's for you, and he's got it fixed where the
other one is so tight against you, he never has to keep his promise.
So it's time in 1964 to wake up. And when you see them coming up with that kind of conspiracy, let
them know your eyes are open. And let them know you - something else that's wide open too. It's got
to be the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet. If you're afraid to use an expression like
that, you should get on out of the country; you should get back in the cotton patch; you should get
back in the alley. They get all the Negro vote, and after they get it, the Negro gets nothing in
return. All they did when they got to Washington was give a few big Negroes big jobs. Those big
Negroes didn't need big jobs, they already had jobs. That's camouflage, that's trickery, that's
treachery, window-dressing. I'm not trying to knock out the Democrats for the Republicans. We'll
get to them in a minute. But it is true; you put the Democrats first and the Democrats put you
Look at it the way it is. What alibis do they use, since they control Congress and the Senate? What
alibi do they use when you and I ask,
Well, when are you going to keep your promise? They blame the
Dixiecrats. What is a Dixiecrat? A Democrat. A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise. The
titular head of the Democrats is also the head of the Dixiecrats, because the Dixiecrats are a part
of the Democratic Party. The Democrats have never kicked the Dixiecrats out of the party. The
Dixiecrats bolted themselves once, but the Democrats didn't put them out. Imagine, these low-down
Southern segregationists put the Northern Democrats down. But the Northern Democrats have never put
the Dixiecrats down. No, look at that thing the way it is. They have got a con game going on, a
political con game, and you and I are in the middle. It's time for you and me to wake up and start l
ooking at it like it is, and trying to understand it like it is; and then we can deal with it like it
The Dixiecrats in Washington, D.C., control the key committees that run the government. The only
reason the Dixiecrats control these committees is because they have seniority. The only reason they
have seniority is because they come from states where Negroes can't vote. This is not even a
government that's based on democracy. lt. is not a government that is made up of representatives of
the people. Half of the people in the South can't even vote. Eastland is not even supposed to be in
Washington. Half of the senators and congressmen who occupy these key positions in Washington, D.C.,
are there illegally, are there unconstitutionally.
I was in Washington, D.C., a week ago Thursday, when they were debating whether or not they should
let the bill come onto the floor. And in the back of the room where the Senate meets, there's a huge
map of the United States, and on that map it shows the location of Negroes throughout the country. And
it shows that the Southern section of the country, the states that are most heavily concentrated with
Negroes, are the ones that have senators and congressmen standing up filibustering and doing all other
kinds of trickery to keep the Negro from being able to vote. This is pitiful. But it's not pitiful for
us any longer; it's actually pitiful for the white man, because soon now, as the Negro awakens a
little more and sees the vice that he's in, sees the bag that he's in, sees the real game that he's
in, then the Negro's going to develop a new tactic.
These senators and congressmen actually violate the constitutional amendments that guarantee the
people of that particular state or county the right to vote. And the Constitution itself has within
it the machinery to expel any representative from a state where the voting rights of the people are
violated. You don't even need new legislation. Any person in Congress right now, who is there from a
state or a district where the voting rights of the people are violated, that particular person should
be expelled from Congress. And when you expel him, you've removed one of the obstacles in the path of
any real meaningful legislation in this country. In fact, when you expel them, you don't need new
legislation, because they will be replaced by black representatives from counties and districts where
the black man is in the majority, not in the minority.
If the black man in these Southern states had his full voting rights, the key Dixiecrats in
Washington, D. C., which means the key Democrats in Washington, D.C., would lose their seats. The
Democratic Party itself would lose its power. It would cease to be powerful as a party. When you see
the amount of power that would be lost by the Democratic Party if it were to lose the Dixiecrat wing,
or branch, or element, you can see where it's against the interests of the Democrats to give voting
rights to Negroes in states where the Democrats have been in complete power and authority ever since
the Civil War. You just can't belong to that Party without analysing it.
I say again, I'm not anti-Democrat, I'm not anti-Republican, I'm not anti-anything. I'm just
questioning their sincerity, and some of the strategy that they've been using on our people by
promising them promises that they don't intend to keep. When you keep the Democrats in power, you're
keeping the Dixiecrats in power. I doubt that my good Brother Lomax will deny that. A vote for a
Democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat. That's why, in 1964, it's time now for you and me to become more
politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we're supposed to get when we cast a
ballot; and that if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to
have to cast a bullet. It's either a ballot or a bullet.