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MARCH ON MONTGOMERY FROM SELMA MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
25 March 1965
By God, we are here! Little more need be said.
No words could be as eloquent as this magnificent, historic march, which has been made possible by the superlative leadership of Dr. King and his associates.
This morning as we walked together, I said to Dr. King that this must be your greatest triumph in the sense of all the obstacles that had to be overcome; and he agreed that it was.
Incidentally, I have discovered in the course of this March that in addition to being a great leader, Dr. King is quite a walker. In fact he walked with such ease, in a gliding sneaky sort of stride that I began to wonder whether he was not getting a little help from the Lord. The Lord was certainly not helping my aching legs.
Governor Wallace and some others denounce many of us who are not Alabamians of being "outsiders" and "meddlers", and that includes me.
I soutly deny this
I am here as an American; an American with a conscience, a sense of justice, and a deep concern for all of the people and problems of our country. I came here to identify with the just cause of the right of Alabama Negroes to vote as our President himself has said every good American. should
I say to Governor Wallace that no American can ever be an
― 2 ―"outsider" anywhere in this country. And, Governor, all these people out here, who have come in a great phalanx, are very great Americans, black and white, the greatest, for they seek to bring unity and maximum strength to this country to the end that it may become, as it can become, white and black together, the greatest society not only of contemporary times but in the entire history of mankind. And lest the Governor has forgotten it, Alabama lost its attempt to leave this Union more than a century ago. Apparently, he has forgotten it, for I see the Confederate flag flying up there over the dome of the Capitol. I have never spoken before under the shadow of that flag, and I must say that it makes me feel uneasy; even a bit treacherous to do so. That flag should have come down over a century ago.
If Governor Wallace or anyone else doubted that two southern causes have been forever lost - the cause of the Confederacy and the inhuman, un-American attempt to keep Negro citizens suppressed and oppressed, all doubts had to be dissipated when we marched through Confederate Square, not long ago, singing "We Shall Overcome".
What we are doing here is an all-American attack on an all-American problem;
In the UN we have known from the beginning that secure foundations for peace in the world can be built only upon the principles and practices of equal rights and status for all peoples, respect and dignity for all men.
The world, I can assure you, is overwhelmingly with us.
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I am sorry that it was necessary for protection to be given to the March by the Federal Government by federalizing the Alabama National Guard. But the fact that the Government did so was an indication of the firm determination of our Government to protect the human rights of all of its citizens.
But I have a word of advice to our Government if there is a next time: be sure that the federalized troops are not wearing confederate flags on their jackets.
There is a great old song saying "there'll be some changes made". Well, our presence here today testifies that some changes have been made in Alabama, and a whole lot more are going to be made and very quickly.
I earnestly salute every one of you for expressing by your presence here the finest in the American tradition; you are in truth the modern day "Minute Men" of the American national conscience. You have written a great new chapter in the heroic history of American freedom.