Interview with John Lewis
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

WELL, WHO WANTED YOU TO CHANGE THE SPEECH?

John Lewis:

Well, one suggestion was from a representative of the Archbishop of the Diocese of Washington, Archbishop Aubar—

John Lewis:

...of the speech. See, during the early discussion with representatives of SNCC, SCLC, all of the organizations, it was never—

John Lewis:

—it was never our design to come to Washington to support any particular piece of civil rights legislation. But before the march, by the time we got to Washington, some of the people, particularly the representative of the Urban League, the NAACP, and maybe organized labor, that segment of organized labor, wanted the march to support a piece of legislation, a proposed legislation, of President Kennedy. And we took exception to that. In one part of the speech I suggested that we could not support the Kennedy legislation beca—it did not guarantee the right of black people to vote. Kennedy had suggested that a person with a sixth grade education should be considered literate and any literate person should be able to register to vote. And SNCC and I think the southern wing of the movement took the position that the only qualification for being able to register to vote should be that of age and residence. And during the time leading up to the preparation of my speech, there was an article in the Montgomery Advertiser with a group of women in, in Rhodesia, and they had signs saying, "One man, one vote." And in my speech I said something like, "One man, one vote, is the African cry, it is ours, too. It must be ours." Some of the people objected to that, and another part of the speech where we suggested that well, that there was very little difference between the major political parties. That the party of Javits is the party of Goldwater, that the party of Kennedy is the party of Eastland. Then I raised the question, where is our party? And another part of the speech raised the question—