There’s one of them in the tree. I just want to let you know, those of you sitting down front here, that there are a whole lot of people out there under the trees. My friends, we are here today because we want the Congress of the United States to hear from us in person what many of us have been telling our public officials back home. That is, we want freedom now. We came here to petition our law makers to be as brave as our citizens and our marchers. To be as daring as James Meredith
To be as unafraid as the nine children of Little Rock
. To be as forthright as the governor of North Carolina
. To be as dedicated as the archbishop of St. Louis
. We came to speak here to our Congress, to those men and women who speak here for us in that marbled forum over yonder on the hill.
They know from their vantage point here of the greatness of this whole nation, of it’s reservoirs of strength and of the sicknesses which threaten always to sap its strength and to erode in one or another selfish, stealthy and species fashion the precious liberty of the individual, which is the hallmark of our country among the nations of the earth. We have come asking the enactment of legislation that will affirm the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And that will place the resources and the honor of the government of all the people behind the pledge of equality and the Declaration of Independence. We want employment. And with it, we want the pride, responsibility and self respect that goes with equal access to jobs. Therefore, we want an FEPC bill as a part of the legislative package. Now for nine years, our parents and their children have been met with either a flat refusal or a token action in school desegregation. Every added year of such treatment is a leg iron upon our men and women of 1980.
The Civil Rights Bill now under consideration in the Congress must give new powers to the justice department to enable it to speed the end of Jim Crow schools, south and north. We are sick of those jokes about public accommodations. We think, for example, that if Mrs. Murphy, rugged individualist that she must be, has taken her chances with the public thus far, she can get along without the solicitous protection of the august Senate of the United States.
It is true of course, that Mrs. Murphy might get a Negro traveler here and there in her boarding house or in her tourist home. But then we must remember this, she might get a white procurer or a white embezzler too. So the Congress must require nondiscriminatory public accommodation. Now, my friends all over this land and especially in parts of the deep south, we are beaten, kicked, maltreated, shot, and killed by local and state law enforcement officers.
It is simply incomprehensible to us here today and to millions of others far from this spot that the United States government, which can regulate the contents of a pill apparently is powerless to prevent the physical abuse of citizens within its own borders. The attorney general must be empowered to act on his own initiative in the denial of any civil right, not just one or two, but any civil right in order to wipe out this shameful situation. Now, the president’s proposals represent so moderate an approach that if it is weakened or eliminated, the remainder will be little more than sugar water. Indeed as it stands today, the package needs strengthening.
And the president should join us in fighting to be sure that we get something more than pap. Finally, we hear talk of protocol, procedures and rules, including the Senate filibuster rule. We have a thought on that. We declare that rules are made to enable a Congress to legislate and not to keep it from legislating. And we’re tired of hearing rules cited as a reason why they can’t act. We expect the passage of an effective civil rights bill. We commend those republicans in both houses who are working for it. We salute those democrats in both houses who are working for it.
In fact, we even salute those from the south who want to vote for it but don’t dare to do so. And we say to those people, just give us a little time and one of these days we’ll emancipate you! We’ll get to the place where they can come to a civil rights rally too. If those who support the bill will fight for it as hard and as skillfully as the southern opposition fights against it, victory will be ours. Just by your presence here today, we have spoken loudly and eloquently to our legislatures. When we return home, keep up the speaking by letter, telegram, telephone, and wherever possible by a personal visit.
Remember that this has been a long fight. We were reminded of it by the news of the death yesterday in Africa
of Dr. W.E. Du Bois
. Regardless of the fact that in his later years, Dr. Du Bois
chose another path. It is incontrovertible that at the dawn of the twentieth century, his was the voice that was calling to you to gather here today in this cause. If you want to read something that applies to 1963
, go back and get a volume of the Souls of Black Folk by Du Bois
published in 1903
. Well my friends, you got religion here today. Don’t backslide tomorrow. Remember Luke’s account of the warning that was given to us all. No man, he wrote, having put his hand to the plow
and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God. Thank you.
I’ve been buked and I’ve been scorned. I’ve been buked Lord and I’ve been scorned. Oh, I’ve been buked Lord and oh I’ve been scorned. Yes, I’ve been talked about so [incomprehensible] But the one thing I’ve done wrong, but the one thing I’ve done wrong, oh the one thing I’ve done wrong Lord, you know I’ve stayed in the valley Lord too long. You know I’m going to tell my Lord when I get home. You know I’m going to tell my Lord when I get home. Yes, I’m going to tell my, my Lord when I get home. How you’ve been mistreating me so long. You know I’ve been buked. I’ve been scorned. Oh yeah. I’ve been buked Lord and I’ve been scorned, oh Lord. I’ve been talked about so long. Hallelujah my Lord. By me Lord, stand by me. Stand by me Lord, stand by me. Stand by Lord by me. Lord I can’t stand stand this alone. Lord if you lead. Lord if you lead your child, I cannot make it alone.
How we got over. How did we make it over. You know our soul looked like it wondered how we made it over. Tell me how we got over, Lord, Lord, Lord. We had a mighty hard time coming on over. You know my soul looked like it wondered how did I make it over. Well, soon as I can see Jesus, the man that died for me. The man that bled and suffered, you know he hung on Calvary. And I’ve got to thank him, for how he pardoned me. I’m going to thank God for how he pardoned me.
Thank my God how he kept me. Oh, I’m going to thank him for never left me. I’m going to thank him for holding me. I’m going to thank God for giving me victory. I’ve got joy, everlasting [incomprehensible] I never get tired. You know I’m going to shout. And I’m going to sing glory hallelujah. You know I’m going to thank him, thank him for being for God being so good to me.