Address at the Society of Friends of Puerto Rico Eugenio Maria de Hostos “One-America” Award Dinner, New York City

May 13, 1966


New York, NY

The dispossessed and the landless will not strive and sacrifice to improve land they do not own, and whose proceeds they do not share. Parents will not sacrifice to ensure education for their children, the children themselves will not study, if the schools to which they go end in the third grade. Individual entrepreneurs will not flourish in a closed society, a society which reserves all wealth and power and privilege for the same classes, the same families, which have held that wealth and power for the past 300 years . . . So a revolution is coming—a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough—but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we can not alter its inevitability . . . No matter how rich or powerful a nation may grow, children condemned to ignorance, families enslaved to land they cannot hope to own, are denied this dignity—the fulfillment of talent and hope—which is the purpose of economic progress. Progress without justice is false progress—and a false hope. Thus education and land reform must be at the heart of our concern for change in Latin America; and among the highest priorities of Latin American governments themselves.