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Home » Lyndon B. Johnson: The American Promise 1965 Speech (Full Transcript)

Lyndon B. Johnson: The American Promise 1965 Speech (Full Transcript)

Lyndon B. Johnson – The American Promise Speech on the Voting Rights Act

In the wake of the ugly violence perpetuated against civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama in 1965, Johnson adapted the “We Shall Overcome” mantra in this call for the country to end racial discrimination. By throwing the full weight of the Presidency behind the movement for the first time, Johnson helped usher in the Voting Rights Act.

Best quote from this speech:

“There is no moral issue. It is wrong — deadly wrong — to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the Congress: I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.

I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.

There, long-suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many were brutally assaulted. One good man, a man of God, was killed.

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.

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