John F. Kennedy photo

Statement by the President on the Sunday Bombing in Birmingham.

September 16, 1963

I KNOW I speak on behalf of all Americans in expressing a deep sense of outrage and grief over the killing of the children yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama. It is regrettable that public disparagement of law and order has encouraged violence which has fallen on the innocent. If these cruel and tragic events can only awaken that city and State--if they can only awaken this entire Nation--to a realization of the folly of racial injustice and hatred and violence, then it is not too late for all concerned to unite in steps toward peaceful progress before more lives are lost.

The Negro leaders of Birmingham who are counseling restraint instead of violence are bravely serving their ideals in their most difficult task--for the principles of peaceful self-control are least appealing when most needed.

Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall has returned to Birmingham to be of assistance to community leaders and law enforcement officials--and bomb specialists of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are there to lend every assistance in the detection of those responsible for yesterday's crime. This Nation is committed to a course of domestic justice and tranquility--and I call upon every citizen, white and Negro, North and South, to put passions and prejudices aside and to join in this effort.

Note: See also Items 365 and 372.

John F. Kennedy, Statement by the President on the Sunday Bombing in Birmingham. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235791

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