speak to you as an American Jew.
Americans we share the profound concern of millions of people about
the shame and disgrace of inequality and injustice which make a mockery
of the great American idea.
Jews we bring to this great demonstration, in which thousands of us
proudly participate, a two-fold experience -- one of the spirit and one
of our history.
the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago
that when God created man, he created him as everybody's neighbor.
Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our
collective responsibility for the preservation of man's dignity and
our Jewish historic experience of three and a half thousand years we
ancient history began with slavery and the yearning for freedom. During
the Middle Ages my people lived for a thousand years in the ghettos of
. Our modern history begins with a proclamation of emancipation.
It is for these reasons
that it is not merely sympathy and compassion for the black people of
America that motivates us. It
is above all and beyond all such sympathies and emotions a sense of
complete identification and solidarity born of our own painful historic
I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in
Berlin under the Hitler
regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned
under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not
'.the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the
most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.
A great people which had
created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers.
They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and
in the face of mass murder.
America must not become a nation of onlookers.
America must not remain
silent. Not merely black
America , but all of
America . It must speak up and
act,. from the President down to the humblest of us, and not for the
sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the
sake of the image, the idea and the aspiration of America itself.
Our children, yours and
mine in every school across the land, each morning pledge allegiance to
the flag of the
United States and to the republic
for which it stands. They, the children, speak fervently
and innocently of this land as the land of "liberty and justice for
The time, I believe, has
come to work together - for it is not enough to hope together, and it is
not enough to pray together, to work together that this children's oath,
pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South,
may become. a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally renewed and