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    英語演講10. Lyndon Baines Johnson - We Shall Overcome



    2008-10-16 22:19

    英語演講10. Lyndon Baines Johnson - We Shall Overcome


    10. Lyndon Baines Johnson - We Shall Overcome

    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, longsuffering 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 selfsatisfaction
    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 crisis. 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. And we are met here tonight as Americans not
    Democrats or Republicans. We are met here as
    Americans to solve that problem.

    This was the first nation
    in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great
    phrases of that purpose still sound in every American
    heart, North and South: "All men are
    created equal," "government by consent of the governed," "give me liberty or give me death."
    Well, those are not just clever words, or those are not just empty theories. In their name
    Americans have fought and died for two centuries, and tonight around the world they stand
    there as guardians of our liberty, risking their lives.

    Those words are a promise to every citizen that
    he shall share in the dignity of man. This
    dignity cannot be found in a man's possessions. it cannot be found in
    his power, or in
    his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It
    says that he shall share in freedom, he shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide
    for his family according to
    his ability and his merits as a human being.
    To apply any other test
    to deny a man his hopes because of his color, or race, or his religion, or the place of his
    is not only to do injustice, it is to deny America and to dishonor the dead who gave their
    lives for American freedom.

    Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish, it must be
    rooted in democracy. The most basic right of all
    was the right to choose your own leaders. The
    history of this country, in large measure, is the history of the expansion of that right to all
    of our people. Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about
    this there can and should be no argument.

    Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote.

    There is no reason which can excuse the denial
    of that right. There is no duty which weighs
    more heavily on us than
    the duty we have to
    ensure that right.

    Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in
    this country men and women are kept from voting
    simply because they are Negroes. Every device of which human ingenuity is capable has been
    used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is
    wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists, and if he
    manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not
    spell out his middle name or because he abbreviated a word on
    the application. And if he manages
    to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he
    passes this test. He may be asked to recite the
    entire Constitution, or explain the most
    complex provisions of State law. And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that
    he can read and write.

    For the fact is that
    the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has
    clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious
    discrimination. No
    law that we now have on the books and
    I have helped to put three of them there can
    ensure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In
    such a case our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution
    says that no person shall be
    kept from voting because of his race or his color. We have all sworn an oath before God to
    support and to defend that Constitution. We must
    now act in obedience to that oath.

    Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law
    designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to
    vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in
    the hands of the Democratic and Republican
    leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am
    grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason
    my friends, to give them my views, and to
    visit with my former colleagues. I've had
    prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which
    intended to
    transmit to
    the clerk tomorrow, but which
    I will
    to the clerks tonight. But I want
    to really discuss
    with you
    now, briefly, the main proposals of this legislation.

    This bill will
    strike down
    restrictions to voting in
    elections Federal,
    State, and local which
    have been
    used to
    deny Negroes the right to vote.
    This bill will establish a simple,
    uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to
    flout our
    Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States
    Government, if the State officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious,
    unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right
    to vote. Finally, this legislation will
    ensure that
    properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting.

    I will welcome the suggestions from all of the Members of Congress I
    have no doubt that I
    will get some on
    ways and means to strengthen
    this law and to
    make it effective. But
    experience has plainly shown
    this is the only path
    to carry out the command of the

    To those who seek to avoid action by their National Government in their own
    who want
    to and who seek to
    maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is
    simple: open your polling places to all your people.

    Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin.

    Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen
    of this land.

    There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution
    is plain. There is no
    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.

    the last time a President sent a civil rights bill
    to the Congress, it
    contained a provision
    protect voting rights in
    Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight
    months of debate.
    And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for my signature,
    the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated. This time, on this issue,
    there must be
    no delay, or no
    hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose.

    We cannot, we must
    not, refuse to protect
    the right of every American to vote in every
    he may desire to participate in. And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must
    not wait another eight
    months before we get a bill. We have already waited a hundred years
    and more, and the time for waiting is gone.

    So I ask you
    to join me in working long hours nights
    and weekends,
    if necessary to
    this bill. And I don't make that
    request lightly. For from the window where I sit with
    problems of our country, I recognize that
    from outside this chamber is the outraged
    conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations, and the harsh judgment of history
    on our acts.

    But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma
    is part of a
    far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America.
    It is the effort of
    American Negroes to secure for themselves the full
    blessings of American
    life. Their cause
    must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must
    overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

    And we shall overcome.

    As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I
    how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes
    and the structure of our society. But a century
    has passed, more than a hundred years since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free

    It was more than a hundred 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 a hundred 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. I
    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
    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've wasted our 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
    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, all North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies:
    poverty, ignorance, disease. They're our enemies, not our fellow
    man, not our neighbor. And
    these enemies too
    disease, and ignorance: we shall overcome.

    Now let none of us in any section
    look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another
    section, or the problems of our neighbors. There's really no part of America where the promise
    of equality has been
    fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham,
    in Philadelphia as well as
    Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.


    This is one nation. What
    happens in Selma or in
    Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to
    every American. But let
    each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities, and
    let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel
    to root out injustice wherever it exists.

    As we meet
    here in this peaceful, historic chamber tonight, men
    from the South, some of
    whom were at Iwo Jima, men
    from the North who have carried Old Glory to far corners of the
    world and brought
    it back without a stain on
    it, men from the East and from the West, are all
    fighting together without
    regard to religion, or color, or region, in Vietnam. Men from every
    region fought for us across the world twenty years ago.

    And now
    in these common dangers and these common sacrifices, the South
    contribution of honor and gallantry no
    less than
    any other region in the Great Republic and
    in some instances, a great many of them, more.

    And I
    have not
    the slightest doubt
    that good men from everywhere in
    this country, from the
    Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden
    Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will
    rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all

    For all of us owe this duty. and I believe that all of us will respond to
    it. Your President makes
    that request of every American.

    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 called upon
    us 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
    faith in American democracy.

    For at
    the real
    heart of 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 there have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days
    come and go. But I pledge you
    that we intend to fight this battle where it should be
    fought in
    the courts, and in the Congress, and in the hearts of men.

    We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free
    speech does not carry with
    it, as has been said,
    the right
    to holler fire in a crowded
    We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not
    carry with it the
    to block public thoroughfares to

    We do
    have a right to protest, and a right
    to march under conditions that do
    not infringe the
    constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all
    those rights as long as I am
    permitted to serve in
    this office.


    We will guard against violence, knowing it
    strikes from our hands the very weapons which we
    seek: progress, obedience to law, and belief in
    American values.

    Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace.
    We seek order. We seek unity. But we
    not accept
    the peace of stifled rights, or the
    order imposed by fear, or the unity that
    stifles protest. For peace cannot be purchased at
    the cost of liberty.

    Selma tonight
    we had a good day there as
    in every city, we are working for a just
    and peaceful settlement
    And we must all remember that after this speech
    I am making
    tonight, after the police and the FBI and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have
    promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the Nation
    must still
    and work together. And when
    the attention of the nation
    has gone elsewhere, they must
    try to
    heal the wounds and to build a new

    This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence, as the history of the South
    shows. It
    is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly
    impressive responsibility in recent days last
    Tuesday, again

    The bill that I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But, in a larger sense,
    most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object
    is to open the
    city of hope to all people of all races.

    Because all Americans just must
    have the right to vote.
    And we are going to give them that
    right. All Americans must
    have the privileges of citizenship regardless
    of race. And they are
    going to
    have those privileges of citizenship regardless
    of race.

    But I would like to caution
    you and remind you
    that to exercise these privileges takes much
    more than just legal
    right. It requires a trained
    mind and a healthy body.
    requires a decent
    home, and the chance to find a job, and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of

    Of course, people cannot contribute to
    the nation
    if they are never taught to read or write,
    their bodies are stunted from hunger,
    if their sickness goes untended, if their life is spent
    hopeless poverty just drawing a welfare check. So we want
    to open
    the gates to opportunity.
    But we're also going to give all our people, black and white,
    the help that
    they need to walk
    through those gates.

    My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small MexicanAmerican
    school. Few of them could speak English, and I
    couldn't speak much
    Spanish. My students
    were poor and they often came to class without
    breakfast, hungry. And they knew, even in
    their youth, the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them. But
    they knew it was so, because I saw
    it in their eyes. I often walked home late in the afternoon,
    after the classes were finished, wishing there was more that I could do. But all I
    knew was to
    them the little that I
    knew, hoping that it might help them against
    the hardships that
    lay ahead.

    Transcription by
    E. Eidenmuller. Property
    of AmericanRhetoric.com. . Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.


    And somehow you
    never forget what poverty and hatred can do when
    you see its scars on the
    face of a young child.
    never thought
    then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in
    1965. It never even occurred to me in
    my fondest dreams that I might
    have the chance to
    help the sons and daughters of those students and to help people like them all over this

    now I do have that chance and
    I'll let you in on a secret I
    to use it. And I
    that you will
    use it with

    This is the richest and the most
    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 taxeaters.

    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 and all regions and all parties.

    I want
    to be the President who helped to
    end war among the brothers of this earth.

    And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker, and the Senator from Montana,
    the majority
    leader, the Senator from Illinois, the minority leader, Mr. McCulloch, and other Members of
    both parties, I
    came here tonight not
    as President Roosevelt came down
    one time, in
    person, to veto a bonus bill, not as President Truman came down one time to urge the
    passage of a railroad bill
    I came down here to ask you
    to share this task with me, and
    to share it with the people that we both work for. I want
    this to be the Congress, Republicans
    and Democrats alike, which did all these things for all these people.

    Beyond this great chamber, out yonder in fifty States, are the people that we serve. Who can
    tell what deep and unspoken
    hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen. We
    can guess, from our own
    lives, how difficult
    they often
    find their own
    pursuit of happiness,
    how many problems each little family has. They
    look most of all
    to themselves for their
    futures. But
    think that
    they also
    look to each of us.

    Above the pyramid on the great seal of the United States it says in Latin: "God has favored
    our undertaking." God will not favor everything that we do. It
    is rather our duty to divine His
    will. But I cannot help believing that
    He truly understands and that He really favors the
    undertaking that we begin here tonight.