L.B.J.’s Gettysburg Address – NYTimes.com

Wake Forest University - LBJ rhetoric

Important speeches occasionally aren’t recognized immediately–but become more clear as time moves on.  One part of presidential power is rhetoric.

In American history, 1963 was a year rich in speeches. But of all the signature speeches that year, it’s the one that has been all but forgotten that might have transformed the country the most.

Fifty years ago, on Memorial Day in 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that foreshadowed profound changes that would be achieved in only 13 months and that mark us still

He demonstrates a call and response to Martin Luther King:

“For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ ”

…“The Negro today asks justice. We do not answer him — we do not answer those who lie beneath this soil — when we reply to the Negro by asking, ‘Patience.’ It is empty to plead that the solution to the dilemmas of the present rests on the hands of the clock.”

via L.B.J.’s Gettysburg Address – NYTimes.com.

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