The following address, “100 Years After Lincoln's Gettysburg Address” by E. Washington Rhodes, editor-publisher of the Philadelphia Tribune and president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was delivered at exercises in the Gettysburg National Cemetery Tuesday afternoon:
“I consider it a great privilege to have been invited as a representative of the American Negro people to participate in an occasion of such national, historic importance, at this time of racial tension and unrest. This, then, is an historic moment of high honor and high drama, which will be forever cherished by the American Negro people, as they march with heads erect to the goal of full and complete equality of citizenship rights.
PD / Abbie Rowe
“One hundred years after the Battle of Gettysburg, 100 years after the Gettysburg Address, the anguished expectations and hopes of Abraham Lincoln for a united nation remain unrealized, unfulfilled in American life. The present, grave Civil Rights struggle attest to this melancholy, tragic fact.
“The 'March On Washington' on August 28, 1963, ended at the Lincoln Memorial – at the knees of Lincoln – at the knees of a magnificent stone image. Today, as we evoke the living, breathing presence of Abraham Lincoln here at Gettysburg, we and the entire nation should become acutely aware of his great, compassionate heart sustained by a statesmanship unparalleled in his day. By nature, by instinct, Lincoln understood statesmanship, and became not only one of America's greatest statesmen, but also one of the world's greatest statesmen and is so recognized throughout the world today.
“It has been said that 'statesmanship is characterized by wisdom, breadth of vision or regards for the general welfare rather than partisan interest.' May God grant to us in unstinting measure both the determination and the will to substitute statesmanship for racial antipathies – statesmanship for political expediency and frivolity – statesmanship for educational, social and economic inequities – statesmanship for fragmented views of life – statesmanship for sectional hatreds – statesmanship for walls of hostile silence. Such positive, affirmative, imperative action alone can satisfy the great compassionate heart of Abraham Lincoln 100 years after the Gettysburg Address.
"Abraham Lincoln prior to his election as President, quoting from Holy Writ, declared with the wisdom of the ages that 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' He continued: 'I believe this government cannot permanently endure half slave and half free.'
“With all the vigor at my command and the great esteem which I have for my beloved country, I am respectfully urging my fellowmen to take note that this is as true today as it was centuries ago – a house divided against itself cannot stand.
“Second – class citizenship with all of its attendant evils must end. Unless men of substance and creative minds take positive action, move forward with alertness and stout hearts to remove this injustice, I fear that government of the people, by the people and for the people, will soon be endangered beyond repair.”
|Rhodes visiting Kennedy's Oval Office in 1962.|
PD / Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston