Speech at the University of Alabama

March 18, 1966


Tuscaloosa, AL

There are many paths to action—to service and sacrifice—open to young people. You can, as many of you will, serve your country in the lines of battle in defense of American interests around the world. You are needed in programs to help release the poor and helpless from the bonds of material misery and prejudice. Educated men and women are needed here in local programs of education and health. You are needed in the Vista Volunteers, in state and national efforts to wipe out poverty. You are needed in the Peace Corps, working to help those in less fortunate countries build a richer life and hope. There is not a person in this room who does not possess a skill which can help transform the life of people in villages in distant continents. You are needed to be involved in public service, in Alabama or in Washington, in private foundations or in the classroom, teaching or building. With your education and training, the comfortable life would be the attractive and the easier alternative. It is easier to build one’s own career, to enjoy the approbation of friends and family and community, than to take up the friction and controversy that comes with participation in public affairs. But for our guide, we could do no better than to take the indomitable Alabaman whose sightless vision gave such illumination to others. For Helen Keller told us that “security is mostly a superstition— Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”