President Carter on Human Rights
01:14:19 - 01:17:01
President Carter continues: "Next week marks another human rights anniversary, Bill of Rights Day. Our Nation was conceived in liberty, in Lincoln's words, but it has taken nearly two centuries for that liberty to approach maturity. For most of the first half of our history, black Americans were denied even the most basic human rights. For most of the first two-thirds of our history, women were excluded from the political process. Their rights and those of Native Americans are still not constitutionally guaranteed and enforced. Even freedom of speech has been threatened periodically throughout our history. Only in the last 10 to 12 years have we achieved what Father Hesburgh has called the legal abandonment of more than three centuries of apartheid. And the struggle for full human rights for all Americans, black, brown, and white; male and female; rich and poor, is far from over. To me, as to many of you, these are not abstract matters or ideas. In the rural Georgia country where I grew up, the majority of my own fellow citizens were denied many basic rights, the right to vote, the right to speak freely without fear, the right to equal treatment under the law. I saw at first hand the effects of a system of deprivation of rights. I saw the courage of those who resisted that system. And finally, I saw the cleansing energies that were released when my own region of this country walked out of darkness and into what Hubert Humphrey, in the year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration, called the bright sunshine of human rights. The American Bill of Rights is 187 years old, and the struggle to make it a reality has occupied every one of those 187 years. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is only 30 years old. In the perspective of history, the idea of human rights has only just been broached. I do not draw this comparison because I want to counsel patience. I draw it because I want to emphasize, in spite of difficulties, steadfastness and commitment."