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 This is a Day of Affirmation, a celebration of liberty. We stand here in the name of freedom.

     At the heart of that Western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, groups, the state, exist for his benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any Western society.

     The first element of this individual liberty is the freedom of speech: the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest; to recall governments to their duties and obligations; above all, the right to affirm one’s membership and allegiance to the body politic–to society–to the men with whom we share our land, our heritage, and our children’s future.

     Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard, to share in the decisions of government which shape men’s lives. Everything that makes man’s life worthwhile–family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head–all this depends on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of men can be protected and preserved only where government must answer–not just to the wealthy, not just to those of a particular religion, or a particular race, but to all its people.
 

Robert F. Kennedy
University of Capetown
Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966

 

Listen to the speech here. 

 

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