Address, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

June 10, 1965


There is a new world about us— beset by hunger, energized by revolution, largely controlled by that half of the world’s people who are under the age of 25. In this world the United States— all of us, our children, and their children, must find our place for the future. It is not a world in which people can be judged by the color of their skins or their nationality— for its future will depend on finding and recognizing talent wherever it exists. It is not a world in which we can preserve all our advantages of wealth and position and comfort— but a world in which we must use those advantages for the benefit of others. It is not a world with which all our contacts can be clean and antiseptic, in which we can insist that all people conform to our ideas of what is right and fitting. Rather it is a world of awakened diversity, of hundreds of nations asserting their right to self-determination and full participation in world affairs. To deal with such a world—we will have to learn to accept the diversity, to disdain all stereotypes, to cast off all excess intellectual and social baggage. We cannot be ready for diversity abroad— until we return to its acceptance at home. We cannot deal justly and intelligently with the nations of the world— until we deal justly and intelligently with those of their people who seek to come here. And we will not be the country we should be— as long as we discriminate in defiance of our traditions, our common sense, and our own self-interest. For the strength of this nation, the very being of America, is its immigrants.