Political Headlines June 11, 2013: ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Obama Administration Over NSA Surveillance Program

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

ACLU sues over NSA surveillance program

Source: Washington Post, 6-11-13

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s surveillance program that collects from U.S. phone companies the call records of tens of millions of Americans….READ MORE

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Political Headlines June 11, 2013: Senate Moves Forward on Immigration Reform Bill Debate with a Vote of 82 to 15

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Moves Forward on Immigration Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-11-13

The Senate’s landmark immigration bill passed a key procedural test on Tuesday, the first step on a long road toward it becoming law.

The Senate voted on an overwhelming, bipartisan basis — 82-15 — to limit debate on the motion to proceed to the bill. That means the Senate debate on the bill will officially begin. Now, senators can give floor speeches and offer amendments to the legislation….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 11, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Immigration Reform

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Immigration Reform

Source: WH, 6-11-13 

East Room

10:38 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  It is a pleasure to have so many distinguished Americans today from so many different walks of life.  We’ve got Democrats and Republicans; we’ve got labor and business leaders up on stage; we have law enforcement and clergy — Americans who don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue, in fact, in some cases, don’t see eye-to-eye on just about any issue — (laughter) — but who are today standing united in support of the legislation that is front and center in Congress this week — a bipartisan bill to fix our broken immigration system.

And I have to say — please give Tolu another round of applause.  (Applause.)  It takes a lot of courage to do what Tolu did — to step out of the shadows, to share her story, and to hope that, despite the risks, she could make a difference.  But Tolu I think is representative of so many DREAMers out there who have worked so hard — and I’ve had a chance to meet so many of them who’ve been willing to give a face to the undocumented and have inspired a movement across America.  And with each step, they’ve reminded us — time and again — what this debate is all about.  This is not an abstract debate.  This is about incredible young people who understand themselves to be Americans, who have done everything right but have still been hampered in achieving their American Dream.

And they remind us that we’re a nation of immigrants.  Throughout our history, the promise we found in those who come from every corner of the globe has always been one of our greatest strengths.  It’s kept our workforce vibrant and dynamic.  It’s kept our businesses on the cutting edge.  It’s helped build the greatest economic engine that the world has ever known.

When I speak to other world leaders, one of the biggest advantages we have economically is our demographics.  We’re constantly replenishing ourselves with talent from across the globe.  No other country can match that history.  And what was true years ago is still true today — who’s beeping over there?  (Laughter.)  You’re feeling kind of self-conscious, aren’t you?  (Laughter.)  It’s okay.

In recent years, one in four of America’s new small business owners were immigrants.  One in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants.  Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by a first- or second-generation American. Think about that — almost half of the Fortune 500 companies when they were started were started by first- or second-generation immigrants.  So immigration isn’t just part of our national character.  It is a driving force in our economy that creates jobs and prosperity for all of our citizens.

Now, here’s the thing.  Over the past two decades, our immigration system hasn’t kept pace with changing times and hasn’t matched up with our most cherished values.

Right now, our immigration system invites the best and the brightest from all over the world to come and study at our top universities, and then once they finish — once they’ve gotten the training they need to build a new invention or create a new business — our system too often tells them to go back home so that other countries can reap the benefits, the new jobs, the new businesses, the new industries.  That’s not smart.  But that’s the broken system we have today.

Right now, our immigration system keeps families apart for years at a time.  Even for folks who, technically, under the legal immigration system, should be eligible to become citizens but it is so long and so cumbersome, so byzantine, that families end up being separated for years.  Because of a backlog in visas, people who come here legally — who are ready to give it their all to earn their place in America — end up waiting for years to join their loved ones here in the United States.  It’s not right. But that’s the broken system we have today.

Right now, our immigration system has no credible way of dealing with the 11 million men and women who are in this country illegally.  And, yes, they broke the rules; they didn’t wait their turn.  They shouldn’t be let off easy.  They shouldn’t be allowed to game the system.  But at the same time, the vast majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble.  They’re just looking to provide for their families, contribute to their communities.

They’re our neighbors.  We know their kids.  Too often, they’re forced to do what they do in a shadow economy where shady employers can exploit them by paying less than the minimum wage, making them work without overtime, not giving them any benefits. That pushes down standards for all workers.  It’s bad for everybody.  Because all the businesses that do play by the rules, that hire people legally, that pay them fairly — they’re at a competitive disadvantage.  American workers end up being at a competitive disadvantage.  It’s not fair.  But that’s the broken system that we have today.

Now, over the past four years, we’ve tried to patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.  We made border security a top priority.  Today, we have twice as many border patrol agents as we did in 2004.  We have more boots on the ground along our southern border than at any time in our history.  And in part, by using technology more effectively, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades.

We focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who are endangering our communities.  And today, deportation of criminals is at its highest level ever.

And having put border security in place, having refocused on those who could do our communities harm, we also then took up the cause of the DREAMers, young people like Tolu who were brought to this country as children.  We said that if you’re able to meet some basic criteria, like pursuing a higher education, then we’ll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows so you can continue to work here, and study here, and contribute to our communities legally.

So my administration has done what we can on our own.  And we’ve got members of my administration here who’ve done outstanding work over the past few years to try to close up some of the gaps that exist in the system.  But the system is still broken.  And to truly deal with this issue, Congress needs to act.  And that moment is now.

This week, the Senate will consider a common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system.  It will build on what we’ve done and continue to strengthen our borders.  It will make sure that businesses and workers are all playing by the same set of rules, and it includes tough penalties for those who don’t.  It’s fair for middle-class families, by making sure that those who are brought into the system pay their fair share in taxes and for services.  And it’s fair for those who try to immigrate legally by stopping those who try to skip the line.  It’s the right thing to do.

Now, this bill isn’t perfect.  It’s a compromise.  And going forward, nobody is going to get everything that they want — not Democrats, not Republicans, not me.  But this is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles that I and the people on this stage have laid out for common-sense reform.

First of all, if passed, this bill would be the biggest commitment to border security in our nation’s history.  It would put another $6.5 billion — on top of what we’re already spending — towards stronger, smarter security along our borders.  It would increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers.  It would finally give every employer a reliable way to check that every person they’re hiring is here legally.  And it would hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.  So it strengthens border security, but also enforcement within our borders.

I know there’s a lot of talk right now about border security, so let me repeat — today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades.  And if passed, the Senate bill as currently written and as hitting the floor would put in place the toughest border enforcement plan that America has ever seen.  So nobody is taking border enforcement lightly.  That’s part of this bill.

Number two, this bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally.  So that pathway is arduous.  You’ve got to pass background checks.  You’ve got to learn English.  You’ve got to pay taxes and a penalty.  And then you’ve got to go to the back of the line behind everybody who’s done things the right way and have tried to come here legally.

So this won’t be a quick process.  It will take at least 13 years before the vast majority of these individuals are able to even apply for citizenship.  So this is no cakewalk.  But it’s the only way we can make sure that everyone who’s here is playing by the same rules as ordinary families — paying taxes and getting their own health insurance.

That’s why, for immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship.  If we’re asking everybody to play by the same rules, you got to give people a sense of certainty that they go through all these sacrifices, do all this, that there’s at the end of the horizon, the opportunity — not the guarantee, but the opportunity — to be part of this American family.  And by the way, a majority of Americans support this idea.

Number three, this bill would modernize the legal immigration system so that, alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’re also attracting the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers from around the world who will ultimately grow our economy.  And this bill would help make sure that our people don’t have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them here in America.

So that’s what immigration reform looks like:  Smarter enforcement; a pathway to earned citizenship; improvements to our legal system.  They’re all common-sense steps.  They’ve got bipartisan support.  They’ve got the support of a broad cross-section of leaders from every walk of life.  So there’s no reason Congress can’t get this done by the end of the summer.

Remember, the process that led to this bill was open and inclusive.  For months, the bipartisan Gang of Eight looked at every issue, reconciled competing ideas, built a compromise that works.  Then the Judiciary Committee held numerous hearings.  More than a hundred amendments were added, often with bipartisan support.  The good news is every day that goes by, more and more Republicans and Democrats are coming out to support this common-sense immigration reform bill.

And I’m sure the bill will go through a few more changes in the weeks to come.  But this much is clear:  If you genuinely believe we need to fix our broken immigration system, there’s no good reason to stand in the way of this bill.  A lot of people — Democrats and Republicans — have done a lot of good work on this bill.  So if you’re serious about actually fixing the system, then this is the vehicle to do it.

If you’re not serious about it, if you think that a broken system is the best America can do, then I guess it might make sense to try to block it.  But if you’re actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken system, this is the vehicle to do it.  And now is the time to get it done.  There is no good reason to play procedural games or engage in obstruction just to block the best chance we’ve had in years to address this problem in a way that’s fair to middle-class families, to business owners, to legal immigrants.

And there’s no good reason to undo the progress we’ve already made — especially when it comes to extreme steps like stripping protections from DREAMers that my administration has provided, or asking law enforcement to treat them the same way they treat violent criminals.  That’s not who we are.

We owe it to America to do better.  We owe it to the DREAMers to do better.  We owe it to the young people like Tolu and Diego Sanchez, who’s with us here today.  Where’s Diego?  Right here.  Diego came here from Argentina with his parents when he was just a kid, and growing up, America was his home.  This is where he went to school.  This is where he made friends.  This is where he built a life.  You ask Diego and he’ll tell you he feels American in every way — except one; on paper.

In high school, Diego found out that he was undocumented.  Think about that.  With all the stuff you’re already dealing with in high school — (laughter) — and suddenly, oh, man, really?  (Laughter.)  So he had done everything right — stayed out of trouble, excelled in class, contributed to his community — feeling hopeful about his future, and suddenly he finds out he’s got to live in fear of deportation. Watching his friends get their licenses knowing he couldn’t get one himself.  Seeing his classmates apply for summer jobs knowing he couldn’t do that either.

When Diego heard that we were going to offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows, he went and signed up. All he wanted, he said, was a chance to, “live a normal life” and to “contribute to the country I love.”  And Diego, this year, was approved for deferred action.  A few weeks ago, he graduated from St. Thomas University, where he was student body president and “Student of the Year.”  (Applause.)

So now he’s set his sights higher — master’s degree and then law school so he can pursue a career in public policy, help America shape its future.  Why wouldn’t we want to do the right thing by Diego?  What rationale is there out there that wouldn’t want to make sure Diego achieves his dreams?  Because if he does, that helps us all achieve our dreams.

So in the weeks to come, you’ll hear some opponents of immigration reform try to gin up fear and create division and spread the same old rumors and untruths that we’ve heard before. And when that happens, I want you to think about Tolu.  I want you to think about Diego.  And I want you to think about your own parents and your own grandparents and your own great grandparents, and all the men and women and children who came here.  The notion that somehow those who came through Ellis Island had all their papers right — (laughter) — had checked every box and followed procedures as they were getting on that boat — they were looking for a better life just like these families.  And they want to earn their way into the American story.

And if you’re willing to stand with them — and if you’re willing to stand with all these outstanding leaders up here — then now is the time to make your voice heard.  You need to call and email and tweet your senators and tell them, don’t kick this problem down the road.  Come together.  Work together.  Do your job not only to fix a broken immigration system once and for all, but to leave something better for all the generations to come, to make sure we continue to be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  Do the right thing.

Thanks.  God bless you.  God bless America.

END
11:02 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts June 11, 2013: House Speaker John Boehner’s Interview with George Stephanopoulos on NSA Leak, Immigration Reform And More on ABC News’ Good Morning America — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Transcript: Exclusive Interview With House Speaker John Boehner on NSA Leak, Immigration Reform And More

Source: ABC News, 6-11-13

RELATED: John Boehner Talks NSA Leaks, IRS Scandal and Immigration With George Stephanopoulos

PHOTO: George Stephanopoulos interviews House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in New York, June 10, 2013.

George Stephanopoulos interviews House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in New York, June 10, 2013. (ABC News)

House Speaker John Boehner sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” to discuss the NSA leak, immigration reform, the IRS scandal and much more.

Here is the full transcript of the interview:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker, thank you for doin’ this. Let’s talk first about these– revelations about the National Security Agency. Edward Snowden has come forward, said he brought the documents into the public eye. His supporters say he’s– a whistle-blowing patriot. His critics say he’s betrayed the country, broken the law. Where do you stand?

JOHN BOEHNER: He’s a traitor. The president outlined last week that these were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe, and give us tools– to fight the terrorist threat th– that we face. The president also outlined that there are appropriate safeguards in place– to make sure that– there’s– there’s no– snooping, if you will– on Americans– here at home. But– the disclosure of this information– puts Americans at risk. It shows– our adversaries what our capabilities are. And– it’s a giant violation of the law….READ MORE

On This Day in History June 11, 1963…. 50th Anniversary: President John F. Kennedy Gives Televised Speech on Civil Rights to the Nation

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program.

kennedycrban.jpg

John F. Kennedy delivering the Civil Rights Address (Wikimedia Commons)

On This Day in History June 11, 1963…. President John F. Kennedy gave a televised speech on civil rights to the nation from the White House oval office paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It was a busy day for the civil rights movement; Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace in his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” physically prevented two African American students; Vivian Malone and James Hood, from registering at the University of Alabama despite a court order the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. President Kennedy was forced to send the US National Guard to end the conflict, and ensure the students could enter the university building and register.

Hours later, in the early morning of June 12th, African American civil rights activist and leader Medgar Evers was killed in Mississippi. He was shot in the back while entering into his home after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Evers was shot by Byron De La Beckwith, who belonged to the White Citizens’ Council, a segregationist group. Although first arrested on June 21, 1963 for Evers’ murder, it took until 1994 for De La Beckwith to be convicted of the crime. Also in the north, Boston city school officials began a ten year battle with the NAACP over segregation the same evening as President Kennedy’s speech.

It was against this turmoil in the nation over civil rights that President Kennedy called and booked time on all three major networks for him to speak to the nation at 8 PM EDT on civil rights and the situation in Alabama.

In a hastily drafted speech by Ted Sorensen and revised by Kennedy. The President told Americans that segregation is a “moral issue” that is wrong. Kennedy stated; “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” President Kennedy accomplished two points in his speech, the introduction of civil rights legislation, and the beginning of significant comprehensive school desegregation.

Kennedy pleaded to the American people that civil rights is the responsibility of all citizens; “It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all… Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Kennedy specifically emphasized the lack of action since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1954 in the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education which ended the legality of the separate but equal system. Kennedy lamented; “Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job. The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.”

In his speech, President Kennedy began an active pursuit of Congressional legislation that would end segregation, stating; “Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law…. I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.”

Kennedy also introduced the pursuit of the vote for all African Americans stating; “Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” With his speech that night, Kennedy was pushing in motion not only the Civil Rights Act, but the subsequent Voting Rights Act passed two years later in 1965 which guaranteed the vote to all Americans.

Kennedy concluded his speech with a request of support from the American public for his sweeping and necessary proposals based on Constitutional rights for all Americans; “Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents…. This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.”

Kennedy submitted a civil rights bill to Congress the next week on June 19, which historian Robert Dallek in his biography of President Kennedy, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 described as “the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country’s history.” The law would guarantee the right to vote for all with the minimum of a sixth grade education, and end discrimination in all public and commercial facilities establishments and accommodations. Kennedy also requested that the attorney general be granted expanded powers to implement school desegregation, asked to end job discrimination and create job training opportunities and a “community relations service.” Kennedy used the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution to justify the contents of his proposed bill. President Kennedy continued pushing Congress to pass civil rights legislation with bipartisan support until his assassination five months later in November 1963.

The leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. approved of President Kennedy’s speech and described it as ‘the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president’.” King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on August 28th, over two months later during the March on Washington would eclipse Kennedy’s speech as the most relevant to advancing civil rights.

However civil rights would become central to Kennedy’s legacy, and without the President taking initial action with this speech and laying out his bold vision and plan to make a civil rights a reality for all Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never would have passed and signed into law on July 2, 1964.

IN THE NEWS

The Day President Kennedy Embraced Civil Rights—and the Story Behind It

Source: The Atlantic, 6-11-13

50 years ago today, the president gave his now-famous Civil Rights Address. But it was Martin Luther King Jr. and the Birmingham protesters who deserved the credit.

“Can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit it over the fence!” That was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s private verdict on President John F. Kennedy’s famous Civil Rights Address, delivered fifty years ago on June 11, 1963….READ MORE

John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Speech Remembered On 50th Anniversary

Source: Huffington Post, 6-11-13

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave his Civil Rights Address, calling for the legislation that later became the Civil Rights Act Of 1964….READ MORE

Watch: JFK’s civil rights speech, 50 years ago

Source: MSNBC, 6-11-13

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the nation after a day of racial turmoil in the state of Alabama….READ MORE

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Peniel E. Joseph: Kennedy’s Finest Moment

Source: NYT, 6-12-13

JUNE 11, 1963, may not be a widely recognized date these days, but it might have been the single most important day in civil rights history….

But the most important event was one that almost didn’t happen: a hastily arranged speech that evening by President John F. Kennedy….READ MORE

Tufts Professor Recalls Momentous, Overlooked JFK Speech From 50 Years Ago

Download

Source: NPR Boston WBUR, 6-11-13

When 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. It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodations.

Fifty years ago Tuesday, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation in a televised speech sometimes called one of the best of his presidency. But that speech would be overshadowed by other events of June 11, 1963, and of the early hours of the next day.

WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with Peniel Joseph, a history professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, about this date 50 years ago, which he calls the most significant date in civil rights history….READ MORE

QUOTES

Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights

June 11, 1963

Source: Presidency, UCSB

audio

Good evening, my fellow citizens:This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.

That they were admitted peacefully on the campus is due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was rounded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet-Nam 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.

It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.

The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the Nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing a high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day, one-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year, a life expectancy which is 7 years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much.

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, 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; that we have no class or cast system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.

It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.

Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law. The Federal judiciary has upheld that proposition in a series of forthright cases. The executive branch has adopted that proposition in the conduct of its affairs, including the employment of Federal personnel, the use of Federal facilities, and the sale of federally financed housing.

But there are other necessary measures which only the Congress can provide, and they must be provided at this session. The old code of equity law under which we live commands for every wrong a remedy, but in too many communities, in too many parts of the country, wrongs are inflicted on Negro citizens and there are no remedies at law. Unless the Congress acts, their only remedy is in the street.

I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.

This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an arbitrary indignity that no American in 1963 should have to endure, but many do.

I have recently met with scores of business leaders urging them to take voluntary action to end this discrimination and I have been encouraged by their response, and in the last 2 weeks over 75 cities have seen progress made in desegregating these kinds of facilities. But many are unwilling to act alone, and for this reason, nationwide legislation is needed if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts.

I am also asking Congress to authorize the Federal Government to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public education. We have succeeded in persuading many districts to de-segregate voluntarily. Dozens have admitted Negroes without violence. Today a Negro is attending a State-supported institution in every one of our 50 States, but the pace is very slow.

Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job.

The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.

Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency.

Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom’s challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.

My fellow Americans, this is a problem which faces us all–in every city of the North as well as the South. Today there are Negroes unemployed, two or three times as many compared to whites, inadequate in education, moving into the large cities, unable to find work, young people particularly out of work without hope, denied equal rights, denied the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter or go to a movie theater, denied the right to a decent education, denied almost today the right to attend a State university even though qualified. It seems to me that these are matters which concern us all, not merely Presidents or Congressmen or Governors, but every citizen of the United States.

This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents.

We cannot say to 10 percent of the population that you can’t have that right; that your children can’t have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that.

Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents.

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

We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.

This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.
Thank you very much.

Delivered from the President’s office at 8 p.m.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: “Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights,” June 11, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9271.

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