|Lyndon B. Johnson’s Voting Rights Speech: “We Shall Overcome,” 1965
After police and other whites brutally attacked civil rights protestors in Selma, Alabama, Johnson went before Congress to confront the country’s history of racism and demand passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“…even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
“As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed, more than a hundred years, since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight.”