John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Defremery Park, Oakland, CA

November 02, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Byron Rumford, distinguished Californians, Jeff Cohelan, who I hope you are going to elect Congressman from this district - he is a great one. I want us to go all the way for him, because he is fighting for this district and the United States; George P. Miller, with whom I served in the Congress for 14 years, who speaks for this district and for the United States; Governor Brown, Allen Broussard, ladies, and gentlemen - we are not discriminating against you over there. [Laughter.] I am here tonight, here in California, in the closing days of this campaign, to ask your help, to ask your help in defeating the Republican Party. [Applause.] I understand Mr. Nixon is coming here on Saturday. He is going to South Carolina on Thursday and coming here on Saturday. I want you to ask him three questions:

First, name one piece of progressive legislation in behalf of the people that he has supported that has been enacted into law, just one that served the people. [Response from the audience.]

Second, I would like to have him explain why, when a bill was up seven times, seven times, in the House of Representatives, when he and I were both on the Labor Committee, seven times to provide fair employment practices, why I voted for it seven times and he voted against it seven times. [Response from the audience.]

Ladies and gentlemen - we are on again. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an important election, and I come here and ask your help. I speak for the party of progress in 1960. I speak for the party that is committed to a progressive platform to advance equal opportunity for all Americans. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon represents a party which has opposed progress for 25 years. It opposed progress under Franklin Roosevelt. Mr. Nixon leads a party that voted 90 percent in the 1930's against a 25-cent minimum wage. He leads a party that voted 90 percent against $1.25 minimum wage in 1960. Mr. Nixon leads a party that controlled the House, the Senate and the White House in 1953 and 1954. Not a single civil rights bill saw the light of day in either body.

I am not interested in commitments to progress in 1960. I want to look at the record. I want to look at the record, and I want the people of this State and country to know the record of Richard Nixon and the Republican Party. It has stood against progress for 25 years. And we stand for progress and this country needs it. This country has to move ahead. I don't see any reason why here in this rich country of ours, 35 percent of our brightest boys and girls who graduate from high school never see the inside of a college. I don't see any reason why 15 million Americans should live in substandard housing. I don't see any reason why a Negro baby and a white baby born side by side on the same day, that that white baby has three times as much chance of finishing high school, four times as much chance of finishing college, one-fourth as much chance of being out of work, four times as much chance of owning his own home. We want opportunities for all. We want fairness for all. We want progress for all. [Applause.]

Today, the most important new continent in the world is Africa. Do you know how many Negroes there are in our Foreign Service, out of 6,000 people? Do you know how many Federal district judges there are in the United States who are Negroes? I think we can do better. I don't say that everyone has the same talent, but I think everyone should have the same chance to develop his talent. That is what we say. [Applause.]

We are committed to progress. We are committed to national justice. We are committed to using the talents of every man and woman. We are committed to moving this country ahead. We are committed to full employment. We are committed to going ahead. The Republican Party is committed to standing still and looking to the past. And I come here tonight in Oakland once again in the closing days of this campaign and ask your hand, your voice. I ask you to join us in moving this country ahead. [Applause.]

Franklin D. Roosevelt fought this same fight in the 1930's, social security, minimum wage, housing, unemployment compensation, and fair opportunity. We fight it now in the sixties. This is your fight. You are involved in this. You hold jobs. You live in homes. You want your children educated. You want full employment. You want medical care when you are older and social security. You want progress. You know this country either moves ahead or falls back. Nobody stands still in the 1960's. This is your country. This is your fight and I ask you to join me in retiring Richard Nixon to Whittier, Calif. [Applause.]

I want the people of the world to know that in 1960 a new generation of Americans is taking over, a generation committed to progress, committed to picking this country up and moving it forward. I want America to stand as a symbol around the world of what freedom can do. I want everyone in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, to look to us, not to Khrushchev, but to us. What this country can do, fairness for all people, justice - I want progress and we are going to get it. I ask your help. [Applause.]

I ask you to march with us. I want to make it clear that the fight in 1960 is between those who are comfortable and those who are concerned, between those who want progress and those who look to the good old days, between those who stand where Dewey stood and Landon and all the others, and those who stand where Woodrow Wilson stood and Franklin Roosevelt. I come here to Oakland in the last 5 days of this campaign, and I ask your help in moving California and the Nation and strengthening the cause of freedom. Join us. Move with us. Let's go. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Defremery Park, Oakland, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives