[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from
Tonight we come together bound by our faith in a
mighty God, with genuine respect and love for our country, and inheriting the
legacy of a great Party, the Democratic Party, which is the best hope for
redirecting our nation on a more humane, just, and peaceful course.
This is not a perfect party. We are not a perfect
people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission: to feed the
hungry; to clothe the naked; to house the homeless; to teach the illiterate; to
provide jobs for the jobless; and to choose the human race over the nuclear
We are gathered here this week to nominate a
candidate and adopt a platform which will expand, unify, direct, and inspire our
Party and the nation to fulfill this mission. My constituency is the desperate,
the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected, and the despised. They are
restless and seek relief. They have voted in record numbers. They have invested
the faith, hope, and trust that they have in us. The Democratic Party must send
them a signal that we care. I pledge my best not to let them down.
There is the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity.
Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and
unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does
not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.
No generation can choose the age or circumstance in
which it is born, but through leadership it can choose to make the age in which
it is born an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, and peace, and justice. Only
leadership -- that intangible combination of gifts, the discipline, information,
circumstance, courage, timing, will and divine inspiration -- can lead us out of
the crisis in which we find ourselves. Leadership can mitigate the misery of our
nation. Leadership can part the
waters and lead our nation in the direction of the Promised Land. Leadership can
lift the boats stuck at the bottom.
I have had the rare opportunity to watch seven men, and then two, pour out their
souls, offer their service, and heal and heed the call of duty to direct the
course of our nation. There is a proper season for everything. There is a time
to sow and a time to reap. There's a time to compete and a time to cooperate.
I ask for your vote on the first ballot as a vote
for a new direction for this Party and this nation -- a vote of conviction, a
vote of conscience. But I will be proud to support the nominee of this
convention for the Presidency of the United States of America. Thank you.
I have watched the leadership of our party develop
and grow. My respect for both Mr. Mondale and Mr. Hart is great. I have watched
them struggle with the crosswinds and crossfires of being public servants, and I
believe they will both continue to try to serve us faithfully.
I am elated by the knowledge that for the first time
in our history a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, will be recommended to share our
Throughout this campaign, I've tried to offer leadership to the Democratic Party
and the nation. If, in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some
service, shed some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred
someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped
somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain.
For friends who loved and cared for me, and for a
God who spared me, and for a family who understood, I am eternally grateful.
If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper,
taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived
someone's fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my
grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive
me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart. My head -- so limited in its
finitude; my heart, which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am
not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As
I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet.
This campaign has taught me much; that leaders must be tough enough to fight,
tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit
them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and
keep on moving.
For leaders, the pain is often intense. But you must
smile through your tears and keep moving with the faith that there is a brighter
I went to see Hubert Humphrey three days before he died. He had just called
Richard Nixon from his dying bed, and many people wondered why. And I asked him.
He said, "Jesse, from this vantage point, the sun is setting in my life, all of the
speeches, the political conventions, the crowds, and the great fights are behind
me now. At a time like this you are forced to deal with your irreducible
essence, forced to grapple with that which is really important to you. And what
I've concluded about life," Hubert Humphrey said, "When all is said and done, we
must forgive each other, and redeem each other, and move on."
Our party is emerging from one of its most hard
fought battles for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in our
history. But our healthy competition should make us better, not bitter. We must
use the insight, wisdom, and experience of the late Hubert Humphrey as a balm
for the wounds in our Party, this nation, and the world. We must forgive each
other, redeem each other, regroup, and move one. Our flag is red, white and
blue, but our nation is a rainbow -- red, yellow, brown, black and white -- and
we're all precious in God's sight.
America is not like a blanket -- one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color,
the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt: many patches,
many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common
thread. The white, the Hispanic, the black, the Arab, the Jew, the woman, the
native American, the small farmer, the businessperson, the environmentalist, the
peace activist, the young, the old, the lesbian, the gay, and the disabled make
up the American quilt.
Even in our fractured state, all of us count and fit somewhere. We have proven
that we can survive without each other. But we have not proven that we can win
and make progress without each other. We must come together.
From Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City in 1964 to the Rainbow Coalition in San
Francisco today; from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we have experienced pain but
progress, as we ended American apartheid laws. We got public accommodations. We
secured voting rights. We obtained open housing, as young people got the right
to vote. We lost Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, Bobby, John, and Viola. The team that
got us here must be expanded, not abandoned.
Twenty years ago, tears welled up in our eyes as the bodies of Schwerner,
Goodman, and Chaney were dredged from the depths of a river in Mississippi.
Twenty years later, our communities, black and Jewish, are in anguish, anger,
and pain. Feelings have been hurt on both sides. There is a crisis in
communications. Confusion is in the air. But we cannot afford to lose our way.
We may agree to agree; or agree to disagree on issues; we must bring back
civility to these tensions.
We are co-partners in a long and rich religious history -- the Judeo-Christian
traditions. Many blacks and Jews have a shared passion for social justice at
home and peace abroad. We must seek a revival of the spirit, inspired by a new
vision and new possibilities. We must return to higher ground. We are bound by
Moses and Jesus, but also connected with Islam and Mohammed. These three great
religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, were all born in the revered and
holy city of Jerusalem.
We are bound by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, crying out
from their graves for us to reach common ground. We are bound by shared blood
and shared sacrifices. We are much too intelligent, much too bound by our
Judeo-Christian heritage, much too victimized by racism, sexism, militarism, and
anti-Semitism, much too threatened as historical scapegoats to go on divided one
from another. We must turn from finger pointing to clasped hands. We must share
our burdens and our joys with each other once again. We must turn to each other
and not on each other and choose higher ground.
Twenty years later, we cannot be satisfied by just
restoring the old coalition. Old wine skins must make room for new wine. We must
heal and expand. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Arab Americans. They,
too, know the pain and hurt of racial and religious rejection. They must not
continue to be made pariahs. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Hispanic
Americans who this very night are living under the threat of the Simpson-Mazzoli
bill; and farm
workers from Ohio who are fighting the Campbell Soup Company with a boycott to
achieve legitimate workers' rights.
The Rainbow is making room for the Native American, the most exploited people of
all, a people with the greatest moral claim amongst us. We support them as they
seek the restoration of their ancient land and claim amongst us. We support them
as they seek the restoration of land and water rights, as they seek to preserve
their ancestral homeland and the beauty of a land that was once all theirs. They
can never receive a fair share for all they have given us. They must finally
have a fair chance to develop their great resources and to preserve their people
and their culture.
The Rainbow Coalition includes Asian Americans, now being killed in our streets
scapegoats for the failures of corporate, industrial, and economic policies.
The Rainbow is making room for the young Americans. Twenty years ago, our young
people were dying in a war for which they could not even vote. Twenty years
later, young America has the power to stop a war in Central America and the
responsibility to vote in great numbers. Young America must be politically
active in 1984. The choice is war or peace. We must make room for young America.
The Rainbow includes disabled veterans. The color
scheme fits in the Rainbow. The disabled have their handicap revealed and their
genius concealed; while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their
disability concealed. But ultimately, we must judge people by their values and
their contribution. Don't leave anybody out. I would rather have Roosevelt in a
wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.
The Rainbow is making room for small farmers.
They have suffered tremendously under the Reagan regime. They will either
receive 90 percent parity or 100 percent charity. We must address their concerns
and make room for them. The Rainbow includes lesbians and gays. No American
citizen ought be denied equal protection from the law.
We must be unusually committed and caring as we expand our family to include new
members. All of us must be tolerant and understanding as the fears and anxieties
of the rejected and the party leadership express themselves in many different
ways. Too often what we call hate -- as if it were some deeply-rooted philosophy
or strategy -- is simply ignorance, anxiety, paranoia, fear, and insecurity. To
be strong leaders, we must be long-suffering as we seek to right the wrongs of
our Party and our nation. We must expand our Party, heal our Party, and unify
our Party. That is our mission in 1984.
We are often reminded that we live in a great nation -- and we do. But it can be
greater still. The Rainbow is mandating a new definition of greatness. We must
not measure greatness from the mansion down, but the manger up. Jesus said that
we should not be judged by the bark we wear but by the fruit that we bear. Jesus
said that we must measure greatness by how we treat the least of these.
President Reagan says the nation is in recovery.
Those 90,000 corporations that made a profit last year but paid no federal taxes
are recovering. The 37,000 military contractors who have benefited from Reagan's
more than doubling of the military budget in peacetime, surely they are
recovering. The big corporations and rich individuals who received the bulk of a
three-year, multibillion tax cut from Mr. Reagan are recovering. But no such
recovery is under way for the least of these.
Rising tides don't lift all boats, particularly those stuck at the bottom. For
the boats stuck at the bottom there's a misery index. This Administration has
made life more miserable for the poor. Its attitude has been contemptuous. Its
policies and programs have been cruel and unfair to working people. They must be
held accountable in November for increasing infant mortality among the poor. In
Detroit one of the great cities of the western world, babies are dying at the
same rate as Honduras, the most underdeveloped nation in our hemisphere. This
Administration must be held accountable for policies that have contributed to
the growing poverty in America. There are now 34 million people in poverty, 15
percent of our nation. 23 million are White; 11 million Black,
Hispanic, Asian, and others -- mostly women and children. By the end of this
year, there will be 41 million people in poverty. We cannot stand idly by. We
must fight for a change now.
Under this regime we look at Social Security. The '81 budget cuts included nine
permanent Social Security benefit cuts totaling 20 billion over five years.
Small businesses have suffered under Reagan tax cuts. Only 18 percent of total
business tax cuts went to them; 82 percent to big businesses. Health care under
Mr. Reagan has already been sharply cut. Education under Mr. Reagan has been cut
25 percent. Under Mr. Reagan there are now 9.7 million female head families.
They represent 16 percent of all families. Half of all of them are poor. 70
percent of all poor children live in a house headed by a woman, where there is
no man. Under Mr. Reagan, the Administration has cleaned up only 6 of 546
priority toxic waste dumps. Farmers' real net income was only about half its
level in 1979.
Many say that the race in November will be decided
in the South. President Reagan is depending on the conservative South to return
him to office. But the South, I tell you, is unnaturally conservative. The South
is the poorest region in our nation and, therefore, [has] the least to conserve. In
his appeal to the South, Mr. Reagan is trying to substitute flags and prayer
cloths for food, and clothing, and education, health care, and housing.
Mr. Reagan will ask us to pray, and I believe in
prayer. I have come to this way by the power of prayer. But then, we must watch
false prophecy. He cuts energy assistance to the poor, cuts breakfast programs
from children, cuts lunch programs from children, cuts job training from
children, and then says to an empty table, "Let us pray." Apparently, he is not
familiar with the structure of a prayer. You thank the Lord for the food that
you are about to receive, not the food that just left. I think that we should
pray, but don't pray for the food that left. Pray for the man that took the food
to leave. We need a change. We need a change in November.
Under Mr. Reagan, the misery index has risen for the
poor. The danger index has risen for everybody. Under this administration, we've
lost the lives of our boys in Central America and Honduras, in Grenada, in
Lebanon, in nuclear standoff in Europe. Under this Administration, one-third of
our children believe they will die in a nuclear war. The danger index is
increasing in this world. All the talk about the defense against Russia; the
Russian submarines are closer, and their missiles are more accurate. We live in
a world tonight more miserable and a world more dangerous.
While Reaganomics and Reaganism is talked about often, so often we miss the real
meaning. Reaganism is a spirit, and Reaganomics represents the real economic
facts of life. In 1980, Mr. George Bush, a man with reasonable access to Mr.
Reagan, did an analysis of Mr. Reagan's economic plan. Mr. George Bush concluded
that Reagan's plan was ''voodoo economics.'' He was right. Third-party candidate
John Anderson said "a combination of military spending, tax cuts, and a balanced
budget by '84 would be accomplished with blue smoke and mirrors." They were
Mr. Reagan talks about a dynamic recovery. There's some measure of recovery.
Three and a half years later, unemployment has inched just below where it was
when he took office in 1981. There are still 8.1 million people officially
unemployed; 11 million working only part-time. Inflation has come down, but
let's analyze for a moment who has paid the price for this superficial economic
Mr. Reagan curbed inflation by cutting consumer
demand. He cut consumer demand with conscious and callous fiscal and monetary
policies. He used the Federal budget to deliberately induce unemployment and
curb social spending. He then weighed and supported tight monetary policies of
the Federal Reserve Board to deliberately drive up interest rates, again to curb
consumer demand created through borrowing. Unemployment reached 10.7 percent. We
experienced skyrocketing interest rates. Our dollar inflated abroad. There were
record bank failures, record farm foreclosures, record business bankruptcies;
record budget deficits, record trade deficits.
Mr. Reagan brought inflation down by destabilizing our economy and disrupting
family life. He promised -- he promised in 1980 a balanced budget. But instead
we now have a record 200 billion dollar budget deficit. Under Mr. Reagan,
the cumulative budget deficit for his four years is more than the sum total of
deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter combined. I tell you, we need a
How is he paying for these short-term jobs? Reagan's
economic recovery is being financed by deficit spending -- 200 billion dollars a year.
Military spending, a major cause of this deficit, is projected over the next
five years to be nearly 2 trillion dollars, and will cost about 40,000 dollars for
every taxpaying family. When the Government borrows 200 billion dollars annually to
finance the deficit, this encourages the private sector to make its money off of
interest rates as opposed to development
and economic growth.
Even money abroad, we don't have enough money domestically to finance the debt,
so we are now borrowing money abroad, from foreign banks, governments and
financial institutions: 40 billion dollars in 1983; 70-80 billion dollars in
1984 -- 40 percent of our total; over 100 billion dollars -- 50 percent of our
total -- in 1985. By 1989, it is projected that 50 percent of all individual
income taxes will be going just to pay for interest on that debt. The United
States used to be the largest
exporter of capital, but under Mr. Reagan we will quite likely become the
largest debtor nation.
About two weeks ago, on July the 4th, we celebrated our Declaration of
Independence, yet every day supply-side economics is making our nation more
economically dependent and less economically free. Five to six percent of our
Gross National Product is now being eaten up with President Reagan's budget
deficits. To depend on foreign military powers to protect our national security
would be foolish, making us dependent and less secure. Yet, Reaganomics has us
increasingly dependent on foreign economic sources. This consumer-led but
deficit-financed recovery is unbalanced and artificial. We have a challenge as
Democrats to point a way out.
Democracy guarantees opportunity, not success.
Democracy guarantees the right to participate, not a license for either a
majority or a minority to dominate.
The victory for the Rainbow Coalition in the
Platform debates today was not whether we won or lost, but that we raised the
right issues. We could afford to lose the vote; issues are non-negotiable. We
could not afford to avoid raising the right questions. Our self-respect and our
moral integrity were at stake. Our heads are perhaps bloody, but not bowed. Our
back is straight. We
can go home and face our people. Our vision is clear.
When we think, on this journey from slave-ship to
championship, that we have gone from the planks of the Boardwalk in Atlantic
City in 1964 to fighting to help write the planks in the platform in San
Francisco in '84, there is a deep and abiding sense of joy in our souls in spite
of the tears in our eyes. Though there are missing planks, there is a solid
foundation upon which to build. Our Party can win, but we must provide hope
which will inspire people to struggle and achieve; provide a plan that shows a
way out of our dilemma and then lead the way.
In 1984, my heart is made to feel glad because I know there is a way out --
justice. The requirement for rebuilding America is justice. The linchpin of
progressive politics in our nation will not come from the North; they, in fact,
will come from the South. That is why I argue over and over again. We look from
Virginia around to Texas, there's only one black Congressperson out of 115.
Nineteen years later, we're locked out of the Congress, the Senate and the
Governor's mansion. What does this large black vote mean? Why do I fight to win
second primaries and fight gerrymandering and annexation and at-large
[elections]. Why do we fight over that? Because I tell you, you cannot hold
someone in the ditch unless you linger there with them. Unless you linger there.
If you want a change in this nation, you enforce that Voting Rights Act. We'll
get 12 to 20 Black, Hispanics, female and progressive congresspersons from the
South. We can save the cotton, but we've got to fight the boll weevils. We've
got to make a judgment. We've got to make a judgment.
It is not enough to hope ERA will pass. How can we pass ERA? If Blacks vote in
great numbers, progressive Whites win. It's the only way progressive Whites
win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and
progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and
children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up
For all of our joy and excitement, we must not save
the world and lose our souls. We should never short-circuit enforcing the Voting
Rights Act at every level. When one of us rise[s], all of us will rise.
Justice is the way out. Peace is the way out. We should not act as if nuclear
weaponry is negotiable and debatable.
In this world in which we live, we dropped the bomb
on Japan and felt guilty, but in 1984 other folks [have] also got bombs. This
time, if we drop the bomb, six minutes later we, too, will be destroyed. It's
not about dropping the bomb on somebody. It is about dropping the bomb on
everybody. We must choose to develop minds over guided missiles, and think it
out and not fight it out. It's time for a change.
Our foreign policy must be characterized by mutual respect, not by gunboat
diplomacy, big stick diplomacy, and threats. Our nation at its best feeds the
hungry. Our nation at its worst, at its worst, will mine the harbors of
Nicaragua, at its worst will try to overthrow their government, at its worst
will cut aid to American education and increase the aid to El Salvador; at its
worst, our nation will have partnerships with South Africa. That's a moral
disgrace. It's a moral disgrace. It's a moral disgrace.
We look at Africa. We cannot just focus on Apartheid in Southern Africa. We must
fight for trade with Africa, and not just aid to Africa. We cannot stand idly by
and say we will not relate to Nicaragua unless they have elections there, and
then embrace military regimes in Africa overthrowing democratic governments in
Nigeria and Liberia and Ghana. We must fight for democracy all around the world
and play the game by one set of rules.
Peace in this world. Our present formula for peace
in the Middle East is inadequate. It will not work. There are 22 nations in the
Middle East. Our nation must be able to talk and act and influence all of them.
We must build upon Camp David, and measure human rights by one yard stick. In
that region we have too many interests and too few friends.
There is a way out -- jobs. Put America back to work. When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South
Carolina, the Reverend Sample used to preach every so often a sermon relating to
Jesus. And he said, "If I be lifted up, I'll draw all men unto me." I didn't
quite understand what he meant as a child growing up, but I understand a little
better now. If you raise up truth, it's magnetic. It has a way of drawing
With all this confusion in this Convention, the bright lights and parties and
big fun, we must raise up the simple proposition: If we lift up a program to
feed the hungry, they'll come running; if we lift up a program to study war no
more, our youth will come running; if we lift up a program to put America back
to work, and an alternative to welfare and despair, they will come working.
If we cut that military budget without cutting our defense, and use that money
to rebuild bridges and put steel workers back to work, and use that money and
provide jobs for our cities, and use that money to build schools and pay
teachers and educate our children and build hospitals and train doctors and
train nurses, the whole nation will come running to us.
As I leave you now, we vote in this convention and get ready to go back across
this nation in a couple of days. In this campaign, I've tried to be faithful to my
promise. I lived in old barrios, ghettos, and reservations and housing
I have a message for our youth. I challenge them to put hope in their brains and
not dope in their veins. I told them that like Jesus, I, too, was born in the
slum. But just because you're born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in
you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up.
I told them in every slum
there are two sides. When I see a broken window -- that's the slummy side. Train
some youth to become a glazier -- that's the sunny side. When I see a missing
brick -- that's the slummy side. Let that child in the union and become a brick
mason and build -- that's the sunny side. When I see a missing door -- that's
the slummy side. Train some youth to become a carpenter -- that's the sunny
side. And when I see the vulgar words and hieroglyphics of destitution on the
walls -- that's the slummy side. Train some youth to become a painter, an artist
-- that's the sunny side.
We leave this place looking for the sunny side
because there's a brighter side somewhere. I'm more convinced than ever that we
can win. We will vault up the rough side of the mountain. We can win. I just
want young America to do me one favor, just one favor. Exercise the right to
dream. You must face reality -- that which is. But then dream of a reality that
ought to be -- that must be. Live beyond the pain of reality with the dream of a
bright tomorrow. Use hope and imagination as weapons of survival and progress.
Use love to motivate you and obligate you to serve the human family.
Young America, dream. Choose the human race over the nuclear race. Bury the
weapons and don't burn the people. Dream -- dream of a new value system.
Teachers who teach for life and not just for a living; teach because they can't
help it. Dream of lawyers more concerned about justice than a judgeship. Dream
of doctors more concerned about public health than personal wealth. Dream of
preachers and priests who will prophesy and not just profiteer. Preach and
Our time has come. Our time has come. Suffering breeds character. Character
breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint.
Our time has come. Our
faith, hope, and dreams will prevail. Our time has come. Weeping has endured for
nights, but now joy cometh in the morning.
Our time has come. No grave can hold
our body down. Our time has come. No lie can live forever.
Our time has come. We
must leave racial battle ground and come to economic common
ground and moral higher ground. America, our time has come. We come from
disgrace to amazing grace.
Our time has come. Give me your tired, give me your
poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free and come November, there
will be a change because our time has come.