On this day in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement, where black Americans were fighting for equal rights, was in one of the biggest fights–even though the President had said that schools should not be separate for whites & blacks, state governors were still enforcing it. On June 11, 1963, two black students tried to go to the University of Alabama, but the Governor blocked their way. President John F. Kennedy sent the National Guard to escort the two students into the school.
Later that night, President Kennedy gave a speech to the country and said some things that still make sense today. President Kennedy was a supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, but a lot of the changes he proposed got voted against. So he talked to the people of America instead.
…It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal… It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.
JFK — June 11, 1963
You’ve heard from your parents, teachers, pastors–treat everyone equally, with respect, kindness and humility–putting other people before yourself. But that now needs to have something added to it–you need to act and not just watch things happen. Talk to your parents on ways you can do this–how can you call out someone who says mean things?
17 If you fail to do what you know is right, you are sinning.
James 4:17 (ERV)
22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. 23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. 25 But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard.
James 1:22-25 (ERV)
President Kennedy challenged people 57 years ago, but there are still too many people who think they are better than other people–whether black or brown. It ought to be possible for us to make a world where people are not kept from schools, jobs, houses, lives –because of the color of their skin.
“A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality… ”
JFK — June 11, 1963
Dear Father, help me to be a light to the world–to show your Love to everyone, to treat them kindly, fairly, and with humility. Show me how to stand up when I see and hear wrong things in the world. Amen.