Skip to main content

View Diary: Healing, truth and reconciliation in South Africa (163 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  lbj didn't apologize, but he did say... (8+ / 0-)
    There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government--the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country--to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

    But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, "what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

    There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

    As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed--more than 100 years--since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln--a great President of another party--signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

    A century has passed--more than 100 years--since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

    And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all--all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

    And these enemies too--poverty, disease and ignorance--we shall overcome.

    The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

    And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right--not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

    And I'll let you in on a secret--I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

    This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

    I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

    sorry for the long quotes.  i hadn't read this speech before.  i found it quite inspirational, and not a little ironic given his war legacy...

    link to speech

    Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

    by No Exit on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:56:36 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  LBJ's life is a study in classical tragedy. (5+ / 0-)

      What he accomplished domestically has long been overshadowed by his catastrophic foreign policy toward Vietnam. It is still reverberating for us all that we did not have the gains alone.
      I highly, highly recommend the Robert Caro multi-volume biography of LBJ. They're long, detailed, and written in a rather baroque style--but Caro does a brilliant job of capturing LBJ's contradictions. (And he does a very fine job of placing him and his political career into context.)

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:08:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LBJ did move us forward (6+ / 0-)

      on civil rights - no doubt about it.

      I agree with PK that the Vietnam War and his involvement. I think it created an impossible barrier for him.

      Though I was never an Edwards supporter, for a long list of reasons better not rehashed here, had he become President (without baggage) he could have probably pulled off the apology.  But all of this is speculative and historical fiction.

      heh.

      I hope we have a future that will embrace this.

       

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:15:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Precisely that (3+ / 0-)

      This notion of keeping the promise of equality and freedom as the way to set right the wrongs is said here better than I could.  

      Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:10:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site