Senator John F. Kennedy of Mass., delivers a campaign speech, Oct. 25, 1960 in St. Charles, Illinois.
(image by Diamond Images/Getty Images)
"The right to vote in a free American election is the most powerful and precious right in the world--and it must not be denied on the grounds of race or color. It is a potent key to achieving other rights of citizenship. For American history--both recent and past--clearly reveals that the power of the ballot has enabled those who achieve it to win other achievements as well, to gain a full voice in the affairs of their state and nation, and to see their interests represented in the governmental bodies which affect their future. In a free society, those with the power to govern are necessarily responsive to those with the right to vote."
* John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights, 1963
There has been much honoring of the memory of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy this week, and rightly so. He was dynamic figure who preached a "new generation of leadership" vision that still serves as an antithesis to the listless, austerity-burdened rhetoric of so many of today's political figures -- including some in Kennedy's own Democratic party.
Kennedy saw himself as a liberal reformer, declaring in 1960 that: "If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"
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