1963 May 30

VP Lyndon Johnson Gives Powerful Civil Rights Speech at Gettysburg


Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered a strong speech at Gettysburg in support of civil rights on this day. The civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, had gripped the nation and the world in the spring of 1963 (see the infamous use of fire hoses and police dogs against civil rights demonstrators on May 3, 1963). Johnson identified strongly with the aspirations of the civil rights movement. His speech was more passionate in its commitment to civil rights than was President John F. Kennedy’s far more famous, nationally televised speech on June 11, 1963.

See also LBJ’s celebrated Voting Rights Speech on March 15, 1965, and his unfortunately neglected Howard University speech on June 4, 1965.

LBJ: “In this hour, it is not our respective races which are at stake—it is our nation. Let those who care for their country come forward, North and South, white and Negro, to lead the way through this moment of challenge and decision. The Negro says, ‘Now.’ Others say, ‘Never.’ The voice of responsible Americans—the voice of those who died here and the great man who spoke here—their voices say, ‘Together.’ There is no other way.”

Read LBJ’s full speech: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/speeches.hom/630530.asp

Visit the Social Justice Gallery at the Johnson Presidential Library: http://www.lbjlibrary.org/exhibits/social-justice-gallery

Read Robert Caro’s monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power (1982); Means of Ascent (1990); Master of the Senate (2002); The Passage of Power (2012)

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