President John F. Kennedy quote: “This state…


President John F. Kennedy quote:

“This State, this city, this campus, have stood long for both human rights and human enlightenment — and let that forever be true. This Nation is now engaged in a continuing debate about the rights of a portion of its citizens. That will go on, and those rights will expand until the standard first forged by the Nation’s founders has been reached, and all Americans enjoy equal opportunity and liberty under law.

Black and white photograph of President John F. Kennedy seated at a desk in the Oval Office, looking to the side with a thoughtful expression, with an American flag and curtains in the background.
President John F. Kennedy

But this Nation was not founded solely on the principle of citizens’ rights. Equally important, though too often not discussed, is the citizen’s responsibility. For our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities. Each can be neglected only at the peril of the other. I speak to you today, therefore, not of your rights as Americans, but of your responsibilities. They are many in number and different in nature. They do not rest with equal weight upon the shoulders of all. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of responsibility. All Americans must be responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others, by virtue of their public or their private position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future, or their legacy from the past.

Increased responsibility goes with increased ability, for ‘of those to whom much is given, much is required.’”

“President John F. Kennedy quote: ‘This state…’” sources: President John F. Kennedy Wikiquote / Address at Vanderbilt University – May 18th, 1963 / Department of Defense. Defense Communications Agency. White House Communications Agency. (1962 – 06/25/1991) / Portrait of President John F. Kennedy is titled President Kennedy addresses nation on Civil Rights, 11 June 1963 – taken by Abbie Rowe / John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum / National Park Service / United States Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons


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