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As Old as Scripture

April 12, 2015

With the civil unrest over a police shooting in Ferguson, MO still fresh in memory, a scandal involving racist police video and texts in Fort Lauderdale, FL [1], and a questionable police shooting caught on camera this week, in North Charleston, SC, I offer you a portion of the speech by Pres. John F. Kennedy on what was ultimately signed into law as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In retrospect, two things are striking about this speech. Pres. Kennedy referred publicly to Scripture, actually relying on it for moral authority. That would not be considered politically correct these days. And the President called the issue of racial equality “as old as the Scriptures”. That statement is profound.

Hatred dates as far back as Hammurabi, as far back as Eden. Whether we pass it along by nature or nurture, hatred is part of mankind’s tainted legacy. That makes exorcising it all the more difficult. Each generation must decide for itself which side to take.

Fifty years have passed since this speech was made; a hundred and fifty, since a Civil War was fought over the issue of racial equality.

A black man has been elected President of the United States, but still that issue has not been fully put to rest. In fact, some of those opposed to the current president’s policies routinely use racial innuendo to mock him – as if they were the “cool kids” at school, sharing an inside joke rather than undermining our democracy.

We have not learned much, it seems.

“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and it is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated…

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in Congress, in your state and local legislative body and, above all, in all our daily lives…”

[1] Huffington Post, “Florida Cops Fired Over Racist Texts, KKK Video” by Andy Campbell, 3/22/15,


  1. brilliant summation

  2. Planting Potatoes permalink

    good timing for your post! God bless!

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