[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text
version below transcribed directly from audio]
I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination
for the presidency of the United States of America.
I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud.
I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although
I am a woman and I'm equally proud of that.
I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special
I stand here now without endorsements from many big-name politicians or
celebrities or any other kind of prop. I do not intend to offer to you
the tired and glib clichés, which for too long have been [an] accepted part of
our political life.
I am the candidate of the people of America. And my presence before you,
now, symbolizes a new era in American political history. I have always
earnestly believed in the great potential of America. Our constitutional
democracy will soon celebrate its 200th anniversary, effective testimony
to the longevity of our cherished Constitution, and its unique Bill of
Rights, which continues to give to the world its inspirational message
of freedom and liberty.
We Americans are a dynamic people because of our rugged individuality
and our cherished diversity, because of our belief in human dignity,
because of our generosity and good will to our fellow man -- and most
importantly, because of our tradition of moving forward, forward to
actively confront those problems which plague us in a world growing more
complex each year.
Like all human beings, we have made mistakes. Our involvement in Vietnam
was and remains at this very moment a terrible tragedy. To have
intervened in the civil war in that country, and then later to have
intervened in still two more countries, Laos and Cambodia, was an
ill-conceived blunder whose consequences all of us have had to suffer.
To leave our men there, or to increase massive bombing in the process of
withdrawing them, is to compound the havoc and misery which we are
inflicting on the peoples of Indochina; [on our] own young men who have
been killed and mutilated and rendered drug addicts; and ourselves --
ourselves, whose hard-earned has, during a serious economic recession,
made up the billions of dollars spent in Vietnam when we so urgently
needed these resources at home.
During last year, 1971, more civilians were killed and wounded in
Indochina, and many more made refugees, than at any time in our history.
And Vietnam continues to cost us one million dollars a day -- this
despite President Nixon's promise, four years ago, to end this
Script: "Never has so much
military, economic, and diplomatic power been used so
ineffectively as in Vietnam. If, after all of this time, and all
of this sacrifice, and all of this support, there is still no
end in sight, then I say that the time has come for the American
people to turn to new leadership not tied to the policies and
mistakes of the past. I pledge to you: We shall have an
honorable end to the war in Vietnam."
Our unique economic system has made America the wealthiest nation in
history. Yet, we have undergone another economic recession in which
millions of Americans have lost their jobs and are unable to find work
-- the highest number in ten years. And at the same time, prices have
soared on even the essentials of life -- food, clothing, and medical
Vietnam and its horrors, which have dominated our newspapers
and television[s] for eight long years; and beyond the economic
recession, which has caused severe hardship [at] home to so many
Americans, is the visible, ongoing destruction of our natural
environment, and our loss of a sense of personal security in our own
Perhaps even more fundamental is our loss of the feeling of community;
shock at the continuing injustices and inequities in the land that we
love; our suspicions of pervasive constitutional incompetence and
corruption; our feeling that there's an absence of respectable authority
in our nation; and our loss of confidence in ourselves, with apathy or
despair arising from the conviction that we are powerless to make
ourselves heard or felt in remedying our ills.
Americans, we have looked in vain to the Nixon Administration for the
courage, the spirit, the character, and the words to lift us, to bring out
the best in us, to rekindle in each of us our faith in the
Yet, all that we have received in return is just another smooth exercise
in political manipulation, deceit and deception, callousness and
indifference to our individual problems, and the disgusting playing of
divisive politics -- pinning the young against the old, labor against
management, North against South, black against white.2
The abiding concern
of this Administration has been one of political expediency rather than
the needs of man's nature. The President has broken his promises to us,
and has therefore lost his claim to our trust and confidence in him.
cannot believe -- I cannot believe that this Administration would have ever
been elected four years ago if we had known then what we know today --
we are entering -- we are entering a new era in which we must, as Americans,
demand stature and size in our national
leadership -- leadership -- leadership which is fresh, leadership which is open, and leadership which
is receptive to the problems of all Americans.
I have faith in the
American people. I believe that we are smart enough to correct our
mistakes. I believe we are intelligent enough to recognize
the talent, energy, and dedication which all Americans, including women and
minorities, have to offer.
I know from my travels to the cities and small
America that we have a vast potential which can and must be put to
constructive use in getting this great nation together.
I know that millions of Americans from all walks of life agree with me that
leadership does not mean putting the ear to the ground to follow public
opinion, but to have the vision of what is necessary and the courage to
make it possible -- not by force, violence, or intimidation, but by
persuasion, example, and law.
We must turn away from the control of the prosaic -- the privilege[d],
and the old-line, tired politicians -- to open our society to the
energies and abilities of countless new kinds of groups of Americans --
women, blacks, browns, Indians, Orientals, and youth, so that they can
develop their own full potential and thereby participate equally and
enthusiastically in building a strong and just society, rich -- rich in
its diversity and noble in its quality of life.
I stand before you today to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the
American people will not vote for a qualified -- qualified candidate
simply because he is not white, or because she's not a male. I do not
believe that in 1972 the great majority of Americans will continue to
harbor such narrow and petty prejudices. I am convinced that the
American people are in a mood to discard the politics and the political
personalities of the past. I believe that they will show, in 1972 and
thereafter, that they intend to make independent judgments on the merits
of a particular candidate based on that candidate's intelligence,
character, physical ability, competence, integrity, and honesty.
It is -- It is, I feel, the duty of responsibility leaders of this
country to encourage and maximize -- not to dismiss or minimize -- such
Americans all over are demanding a new sensibility, a new philosophy of
government from Washington.
Instead of sending spies to snoop on
Earth Day, I would welcome the efforts of concerned
citizens of all ages to stop the abuse of our environment.
Instead of watching a football game on television, while young people beg
for the attention of their President concerning our actions abroad, I
would encourage them to speak out, organize for peaceful change, and vote in
Instead of blocking efforts to control the huge amounts of
money given political candidates by the rich and the
powerful, I would provide certain limits on such amounts, and encourage
people of this nation to contribute small sums to the candidates of
Instead of calculating the political costs of this or that
policy, and of weighing favors of this or that group,
depending on whether that group voted for me in 1968, I would remind all
Americans at this hour of the
words of Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided
[against itself] cannot stand."3
We Americans -- We Americans are all fellow countrymen, one day confronting
the judgment of history in our country. We are all God's children and the
will of each of us is as precious as the will of the most
powerful General or corporate millionaire.
Our will -- our will can create a new American in 1972: one where
there's freedom from violence and war at home and abroad; where there's
freedom from poverty and discrimination; where there exists at least a
feeling that we are making progress and assurance for everyone, medical
care, employment, and decent housing; where we more decisively clean up
our streets, our water, and our air; where we work together, black and
white, to rebuild our neighborhoods, and to make our cities quiet,
attractive, and efficient; and, fundamentally, where we live in the
confidence that every man and every woman in America has at long last
the opportunity to become all that he was created of being, such as his
In conclusion, all of you who share this vision, from New York to
California, from Wisconsin to Florida, are brothers and sisters on the
road to national unity and a new America.
Those of you -- Those of you who
were locked outside of the convention hall in 1968, those of you who can
now vote for the first time, those of you who agree with me that the
institutions of this country belong to all of the people who inhabit it,
those of you who have been neglected, left out, ignored, forgotten, or
shunned aside for whatever reason: Give me your help at this hour! Join me
in an effort to
reshape our society and regain control of our destiny as we go down the
Chisholm Trail for 1972.