Ladies And Gentlemen,
Let me speak to you about three major areas of difficulty
within the purview of my responsibilities that sap our national
strength, that weaken our people, that require our immediate
In too many communities of our country, organized crime has
become big business. It knows no state lines. It drains off
millions of dollars of our national wealth, infecting legitimate
businesses, labor unions, and even sports. Tolerating organized
crime promotes that cheap philosophy that everything is a
racket. It promotes cynicism among adults. It contributes
to the confusion of the young and to the increase of juvenile
It is not the gangster himself who is of concern. It is what
he is doing to our cities, our communities, our moral fiber.
Ninety percent of the major racketeers would be out of business
by the end of this year if the ordinary citizen, the businessman,
the union official, and the pubic authority stood up to be
counted and refused to be corrupted.
This is a problem for all America, not just the FBI or the
Department of Justice. Unless that basic attitude changes
here in this country, the rackets will prosper and grow. Of
this I am convinced ...
Our enemies assert that capitalism enslaves the worker and
will destroy itself. It is our national faith that the system
of competitive enterprise offers the best hope for individual
freedom, social development, and economic growth.
Thus, every businessman who cheats on his taxes, fixes prices
or underpays his labor, every union official who makes a collusive
deal, misuses union funds, damages the free enterprise system
in the eyes of the world and does a disservice to the millions
of honest Americans in all walks of life.
Where we have evidence of violations of laws by the "respectables,"
we will take action against the individuals involved, as well
as against their companies. But in the end, this also is not
a situation which can be cured by the Department of Justice.
It can only be cured by businesses and unions themselves.
The third area is one that affects us all the most directly
- civil rights. The hardest problems of all in law enforcement
are those involving a conflict of law and local customs. History
has recorded many occasions when the moral sense of a nation
produced judicial decisions, such as the 1954 decision in
Brown v. Board of Education, which required difficult
I have many friends in the United States Senate who are Southerners.
Many of these friendships stem from my work as counsel for
the Senate Rackets Committee, headed by Senator John McAllen
of Arkansas, for whom I have the greatest admiration and affection.
If these Southern friends of mine are representative Southerners
- and I believe they are - I do not pretend that they believe
with me on everything or that I agree with them on everything.
But, know them as I do, I am convinced of this:
Southerners have a special respect for candor and plain talk.
They certainly don't like hypocrisy. So, in discussing this
third major problem, I must tell you candidly what our policies
are going to be in the field of civil rights and why.
First let me say this: The time has long since arrived when
loyal Americans must measure that impact of their actions
beyond the limits of their own towns or states. For instance,
we must be quite aware of the fact that 50 percent of the
countries in the United Nations are not white; that around
the world, in Africa, South America, and Asia, people whose
skins are a different color than ours are on the move to gain
their measure of freedom and liberty.
From the Congo to Cuba, from South Vietnam to Algiers, in
India, Brazil, and Iran, men and women and children are straightening
their backs and listening - to the evil promises of Communist
tyranny and the honorable promises of Anglo-American liberty.
And these people will decide not only their future but now
the cause of freedom fares in the world.
In the United Nations we a striving to establish a rule of
law instead of a rule of force. In that forum and elsewhere
around the world our deeds will speak for us.
In the worldwide struggle, the graduation at this university
of Charlene Hunter and Hamilton Holmes will without question
aid and assist the fight against Communist political infiltration
and guerilla warfare.
When parents send their children to school this fall in Atlanta,
peaceably and in accordance with the rule of law, barefoot
Burmese and Congolese will see before their eyes Americans
living by the rule of law.
The conflict of views over the original decision in 1954 and
our recent move in Prince Edward County [Virginia] is understandable.
The decision in 1954 required action of the most difficult,
delicate, and complex natures, going to the heart of Southern
It is now being said that the Department of Justice is attempting
to close all public schools in Virginia because of the Prince
Edward situation. That is not true, nor is the Prince Edward
suit a threat to local control.
We are maintaining the orders of the courts. We are doing
nothing more or less. And if any one of you were in my position
you would do likewise, for it would be required by your oath
of office. You might not want to do it, you might not like
to do it, but you would do it.
For I cannot believe that anyone can support a principle which
prevents more than a thousand of our children in one county
from attending public school - especially when this step was
taken to circumvent the orders of the court.
Our position is quite clear. We are upholding the law. Our
action does not threaten local control. The federal government
would not be running the schools in Prince Edward County any
more than it is running the University of Georgia or the schools
in my state of Massachusetts.
In this case - in all cases - I say to you today that if the
orders of the court are circumvented, the Department of Justice
We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move.
Here on this campus, not half a year ago, you endured a difficult
ordeal. And when your moment of truth came, the voices crying
"force" were overridden by the voices pleading for
And for this, I pay my respects to your Governor, your legislature
and most particularly to you, the students and faculty of
the University of Georgia. And I say, you are the wave of
the future - not those who cry panic. For the country's future
you will and must prevail.
I happen to believe that the 1954 decision was right. But,
my belief does not matter - it is the law. Some of you may
believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is
the law. And we both respect the law. By facing this problem
honorably, you have shown to all the world that we Americans
are moving forward together - solving this problem - under
the rule of law.
An integral part of all this is that we make a total effort
to guarantee the ballot to every American of voting age -
in the North as well as in the South. The right to vote is
the easiest of all rights to grant. The spirit of our democracy,
the letter of our Constitution and our laws require that there
be no further delay in the achievement of full freedom to
vote for all. Our system depends upon the fullest participation
of all its citizens.
The problem between the white and colored people is a problem
for all sections of the United States. And as I have said,
I believe there has been a great deal of hypocrisy in dealing
with it. In fact, I found when I came to the Department of
Justice that I need look no further to find evidence of this.
I found that very few Negroes were employed above a custodial
level. There were 950 lawyers working in the Department of
Justice in Washington and only 10 of them were Negroes. At
the same moment the lawyers of the Department of Justice were
bringing legal action to end discrimination, that same discrimination
was being practiced within the department itself.
At a recent review for the visiting leader of a new African
state, there was only one Negro in the guard of honor. At
the Bureau of the Budget, Negroes were used only for custodial
The federal government is taking steps to correct this.
Financial leaders from the East who deplore discrimination
in the South belong to institutions where no Negroes or Jews
are allowed, and their children attend private schools where
no Negro students are enrolled. Union officials criticize
Southern leaders and yet practice discrimination within their
unions. Government officials belong to private clubs in Washington
where Negroes, including ambassadors, are not welcomed even
My firm belief is that if we are to make progress in this
area - if we are to be truly great as a nation, then we must
make sure that nobody is denied an opportunity because of
race, creed, or color. We pledge, by example, to take action
in our own backyard - the Department of Justice - we pledge
to move to protect the integrity of the courts in the administration
of justice. In all this, we ask your help - we need your assistance.
I come to you today and I shall come to you in the years ahead
to advocate reason and the rule of law.
It is in this spirit that since taking office I have conferred
many times with responsible public officials and civil leaders
in the South on specific situations. I shall continue to do
so. I don't expect them always to agree with my view of what
the law requires, but I believe they share my respect for
the law. We are trying to achieve amicable, voluntary solutions
without going to court. These discussions have ranged from
voting and school cases to incidents of arrest which might
lead to violence.
We have sought to be helpful to avert violence and to get
voluntary compliance. When our investigations indicate there
has been a violation of law, we have asked responsible officials
to take steps themselves to correct the situation. In some
instances, this has happened. When it has not, we have had
to take legal action.
These conversations have been devoid of bitterness or hate.
They have been carried on with mutual respect, understanding,
and goodwill. National unity is essential, and before taking
any legal action we will, where appropriate, invite the Southern
leaders to make their views known in these cases.
We, the American people, must avoid another Little Rock or
another New Orleans. We cannot afford them. It is not only
that such incidents do incalculable harm to the children involved
and to the relations among people. It is not only that such
convulsions seriously undermine respect for law and order,
and cause serious economic and moral damage. Such incidents
hurt our country in the eyes of the world ...
For on this generation of Americans falls the full burden
of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say
all men are created equal and are equal before the law. All
of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil
world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing,
so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.
To the South, perhaps more than any other section of the country,
has been given the opportunity and the challenge and the responsibility
of demonstrating America at its greatest - at its full potential
of liberty under law.
You may ask, will we enforce the Civil Rights statutes?
The answer is: Yes, we will.
We also will enforce the antitrust laws, the antiracketeering
laws, the laws against kidnapping and robbing federal banks,
and transporting stolen automobiles across state lines, the
illicit traffic of narcotics, and all the rest.
We can and will do no less.
I hold a constitutional office of the United States government,
and I shall perform the duty I have sworn to undertake - to
enforce the law, in every field of law and every region.
We will not threaten, we will try to help. We will not persecute,
we will prosecute.
We will not make or interpret the laws. We shall enforce them
- vigorously, without regional bias or political slant.
All this we intend to do. But all the high rhetoric on Law
Day about the noble mansion of the law, all the high-sounding
speeches about liberty and justice, are meaningless unless
people - you and I - breathe meaning and force into it. For
our liberties depend upon our respect for the law.
On December 13, 1889, Henry W. Grady of Georgia said these
words to an audience in my home state of Massachusetts:
This hour little needs the loyalty that is loyal to one section
and yet holds the other in enduring suspicion and estrangement.
Give us the broad and perfect loyalty that loves and trusts
Georgia alike with Massachusetts - that knows no South, no
North, no East, no West, but endears with equal and patriotic
love every foot of our soil, every state of our union.
A mighty duty, sir, and a mighty inspiration impels every
one of us tonight to lose in patriotic consecration whatever
estranges, whatever divides. We, sir, are Americans - and
we shall stand for human liberty!
later, Mr. Grady was dead, but his words live today. We stand
for human liberty.
The road ahead is full of difficulties and discomforts. But
as for me, I welcome the challenge. I welcome the opportunity,
and I pledge my best effort - all I have in material things
and physical strength and spirit to see that freedom shall advance
and that our children will grow old under the rule of law.