Monday, June 4, 2007

John F. Kennedy speaks

“[W]hen Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select, without having to be backed up by troops.”

I was born in 1961. JFK was in the White House. But I’ve never been caught up in the Kennedy mystique.

Recently, I found a fascinating audio file on the Web. It’s a speech President Kennedy gave on June 11, 1963. He had just federalized the Alabama National Guard and sent those troops to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. So that two black students could enroll.

“We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it. … But are we to say to the world – and, much more importantly, to each other – that this is a land of the free, except for the Negroes? That we have no second-class citizens, except Negroes?”

Does it seem like forever since we had a U.S. president who provided true moral leadership? Who could stir our souls with simple, straightforward language? Who could describe our national crises with clarity?

Then click here and listen to President Kennedy’s 13½-minute address on civil rights. And try to imagine what it felt like to hear these words 44 years ago.


Anonymous said...

Uh, Ronald Reagan..., who is nothing like the current Chimp-in-Chief.

Dougfp said...

Yeah, except JFK didn't leave the country massively in debt, appoint James Watt Secretary of the Interior, and call catchup a vegetable so he could screw poor people.

Thordaddy said...

Mr. Mills,

Does it seem like forever since we had a U.S. president who provided true moral leadership? Who could stir our souls with simple, straightforward language? Who could describe our national crises with clarity?

An amoral people will never be able to experience the moral leadership of a President. Look at your questions and your idea of a moral leader is bland as vanilla because you ask him to hit all the necessary non-discriminatory notions.

How can one experience the particular stirring of one's soul by a "simple, straighforward" exhortation unless it appeals man's basest impulses?

Undercover Black Man said...

Thordaddy, take the time to listen to Kennedy's speech. At one point he says:

“As I’ve said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or equal motivation. But they should have the equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.”

You see? Not a pile of egalitarian platitudes, but a reason-based application of principle. Listen to Kennedy's speech, then come here and spell out what he said wrong.

Anonymous said...


I love, love, love your stuff and as someone who checked out Larry Auster from time to time and tried to have a reasonable debate with him (and soon realized it was futile), your blog war with Auster was "off the charts", as the kids like to say.

Anyway, I think our current President gets a bad rap because he is not a good speaker. But in my humble opinion, he has VERY GOOD speech writers. See this for one example:

SJ said...

I don't think Reagan would ever give such a stirring speech about civil rights.

The ketchup as a vegetable part is truly hilarious...I almost wish I was in this country when Reagan was president, just to see why he's so deeply hated and loved at the same time.

Dougfp said...

I never hated Reagan. He was above all else, a fairly likable guy. But I am a little sick of seeing everything from hospitals to highways named after him like he was Abraham Lincoln. It's like Bill Maher said a couple of weeks ago...the Right's worship of Reagan seems a little...well, gay.

Not that that's a bad thing.

Thordaddy said...

Mr. Mills,

My question was in relation to what you stated and not what was said by ex-President Kennedy.

But, I must admit that the quote you provided sounds very traditional and not at all in the mold of modern liberalism. In fact, liberal icons are bound to fade into oblivion as the march of liberal progress proceeds.

I mean, how many speeches about freedom, equality and tolerance can one endure before it sounds like nothing more than a marketing ploy by one of the major parties?

Anonymous said...

President Kennedy was the greatest presidentin U.S. History. I bessech everyone to take the time and study his political biograpy. He was an amazing president that truly cared about America and its citizens. He was the very first president to speak out about civil rights. This was very brave cnsidering the mindset back in the 1960s. His birthday should be a national holiday.