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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.