No other racial or ethnic group in our history has been treated in such a manner. No other group was brought to these shores as slaves, against their will. Of the scores of statues in the U.S. Capitol Building, there is not one which honors a representative of this particular race. It is not hard to understand why this vote has become a symbol to so many Americans.
Many black Americans clearly regard this vote not as a vote on any one man, his achievements, or his human shortcomings, but as a vote for or against accepting them as full-fledged, equal members of American society. It has become a way of saying that the contribution of millions of Americans both in peace and in war where their sons laid down their lives for our country, is fully recognized by all of the American people. Congress has been asked to say symbolically that our Nation has taken a step toward putting the discrimination of the past behind us and toward committing ourselves to the brotherhood and sisterhood of allof our people. Mr. President, like many others in this body, I believe that there is a moral compulsion to make this symbolic expression, to affirm that all of us as Americans, of every race, color, and creed, desire to walk hand in hand as brothers and sisters in God’s human family.”