Address at the Day of Affirmation at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

June 6, 1966


Cape Town, South Africa

The first element of individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas . . . above all the right to affirm one’s membership and allegiance to the body politic—to society—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. And even government by the consent of the governed, as in our own Constitution, must be limited in its power to act against its people; so that there maybe no interference with the right to worship, or with the security of the home; no arbitrary imposition of pains or penalties by officials high or low; no restriction on the freedom of men to seek education or work or opportunity of any kind, so that each man may become all he is capable of becoming.