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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Fulton and Nostrand, Brooklyn, NY

October 20, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to present to you Judge Ughetta, who is running for the Court of Appeals in New York State. [Applause.] Your Congressman today. [Applause.]

My name is John Kennedy, and I come here as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States. [Applause.] I come here as the standard bearer of a party which in this century has run men like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and I run in their tradition.

I want to make it clear that this is a contest between two candidates and two political parties who disagree on what is needed to be done to make our country strong. The Democratic Party and I believe in a minimum wage of $1.25. We believe in urban renewal and better housing. We believe in a stronger economy that provides full employment, and we believe in equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of their race or regardless of their religion. And I come over here to Brooklyn and ask your help. [Applause.)

In the first television debate with Mr. Nixon, I said in this country of ours, which prides itself on being the symbol of freedom, I saw no reason why, if a Negro baby and a white baby were born side by side, that white baby had twice as much chance of finishing high school as the Negro baby; he had three times as much chance of getting to college as the Negro baby; he had four times as much chance, the white baby did, of having a job and of being a professional man as that Negro baby, and that Negro baby was four times more likely to be unemployed in his life than that white baby.

I don't say that all people have equal talent, but what I do say is that everyone should have their chance to develop their talent equally, and I want to make it clear that whether I am elected President of the United States or not, whether I continue in the Senate, or whether I win the office, this country in the next 4 years is going to make progress forward in providing every American with his constitutional rights.

I want it said at the end of our administration, if we are successful, that every American had an equal chance, every American had a fair chance to develop his talents, and that is all we ask and that is all that any American asks. [Applause.]

We stand for that, win or lose, up or down, fair winds or not. We are committed to that program, not just as Democrats, but as Americans. We are a free country, and there are not many free countries, and we want everyone to be free. When an African diplomat comes here and can't find decent housing in Washington, it isn't because he is an African; it is because he is a Negro. Do you know of 200 Federal district judges, there is not one that is a Negro? Do you know how many members of our Foreign Service are Negroes, even though the majority of the world is colored? Twenty-six out of 6,000.

Well, we can do better and we are going to have to do better if we are going to survive. [Applause.] Africa today has one-fourth of all the votes in the General Assembly. Do you know there are four countries in Africa without a single American diplomat representing us? Do you know that we brought more students from all over the world to study here than we did 10 years ago? We offered at the time of the Congo in June 300 scholarships. Do you know that was more scholarships to Africa and the Congo than we had offered to all of Africa the year before? I believe we can do better.

I think it is time we stopped standing still. I think it is time we started moving ahead as Americans and as believers in freedom. I want to make it very clear that we stand on this issue. We stand for moving ahead in the 1960's. We stand for full employment, and better housing. I stand where Franklin Roosevelt stood, and I come to Brooklyn which supported him, and ask your help. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Fulton and Nostrand, Brooklyn, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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