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Two Presidential Speeches on Civil Rights

Johnson finished what Kennedy started.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy announced plans to pursue the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law. His speech amounted to a forceful case for the morality of civil rights.

This nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

Johnson finishes Kennedy's work

Kennedy never had the chance to see civil rights through to passage – five months after this speech, JFK was assassinated in Dallas – but Lyndon Johnson, the master legislator, took up Kennedy's cause.

And, on July 2, 1964, barely a year after Kennedy's announcement, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; ended unequal application of voter registration requirements; and outlawed racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and public accommodations.

Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom.

Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities. Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders.

We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment.

We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights.

We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings—not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin.