Quotations about   cause

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If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Fourth Annual Republican Women’s National Conference, Washington, DC (6 Mar 1956)
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Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and congresses. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.

Hmmmm.

But what do the dead say?

Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I’m glad i died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say i like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it’s good to think i got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me i’m dead but i died for decency and that’s better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here i am, i’ve been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it’s wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I’m happy, see how I sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Johnny Got His Gun (1938)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
Statement to the Court (18 Sep 1918)
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On being convicted of Sedition. Often paraphrased: "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).

Full quote: "Some people say they won’t work 'inside the system' -- they’re 'waiting for the revolution.' Well, when the ramparts are open, honey, I'll be there. But until then, I'm going to go right on zapping the business and government delinquents, the jockocrats, the fetus fetishists, and all the other niggerizers any way I can. The biggest sin is sitting on your ass."
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 28-Aug-17
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This is no day for the rabble-rouser, whether he be Negro or white. We must realize that we are grappling with the most weighty social problem of this nation, and in grappling with such a complex problem there is no place for misguided emotionalism. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for the goal of freedom, but we must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle. We must never struggle with falsehood, hate, or malice. We must never become bitter. I know how we feel sometime. There is the danger that those of us who have been forced so long to stand amid the tragic midnight of oppression—those of us who have been trampled over, those of us who have been kicked about — there is the danger that we will become bitter. But if we will become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, the new order which is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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Added on 8-Jun-17 | Last updated 8-Jun-17
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KATE: One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in, and yours is — Success.

HARRY: Ambition — it is the last infirmity of noble minds.

James Barrie (1860-1937) Scottish novelist and dramatist
The Twelve-Pound Look (1910)
Added on 24-May-17 | Last updated 24-May-17
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Just as every conviction begins as a whim so does every emancipator serve his apprenticeship as a crank. A fanatic is a great leader who is just entering the room.

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
New York World (6 Feb 1928)
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Added on 24-May-17 | Last updated 24-May-17
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A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man by one which is lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other, ambition. Ambition is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Sometimes misattributed to Marcus Aurelius.
Added on 17-May-17 | Last updated 17-May-17
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Zealots were always hard. Zeal distorts them. Makes the normal impulses convolute. Makes people fearless and greedless and loveless and finally monstrous. I was against zeal. But being against it didn’t make it go away.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Promised Land (1974)
Added on 15-Mar-17 | Last updated 15-Mar-17
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GERVAIS: Whenever I do a thing about animals, there’s always someone that goes, “What about children dying in Syria?” Yeah, that’s bad, too — can’t we care about both? Sometimes I go, “You carry on all your good work for the fucking children in Syria, and I’ll do this.” I love the fact that there’s a hierarchy of things that you’ve got to care about. I tweeted “I love humans — they’re just not my favorite animal.” That was to annoy people.

GQ: True, though?

GERVAIS: No, I’m not a maniac. Of course humans are my favorite animal. [pauses] But I’ve never met an animal who was a cunt.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
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Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the counsels of Omnipotence I cannot doubt; it is a part of the great moral improvement in the condition of man, attested by all the records of history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (11 Dec 1838)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
‘Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) Scottish evangelist and teacher
“My Utmost For His Highest” (1927)
Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon

Speaking of Helen of Troy. The literal translation is "Ship-destroyer, man-destroyer, city-destroyer."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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What the tender and poetic youth dreams to-day, and conjures up with inarticulate speech, is to-morrow the vociferated result of public opinion, and the day after is the character of nations.

Emerson - character of nations - wist_info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
(Attributed)

Quoted in James Comper Gray, The Biblical Museum: Old Testament (1876).
Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 1 “Introductory” (1859)
Added on 3-Aug-16 | Last updated 3-Aug-16
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All presidents start out to run a crusade, but after a couple of years they find they are running something less heroic and much more intractable: namely, the presidency.

Cooke - presidents start out to run a crusade - wist_info quote

Alistair Cooke (1908-2004) Anglo-American essayist and journalist
Talk About America, ch. 6 (1981)
Added on 1-Aug-16 | Last updated 1-Aug-16
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The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Sub-Treasury,” speech, Illinois House of Representatives (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 27-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Jul-16
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The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (18 Aug 1830)
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 6-Jul-16
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The humblest citizen of all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.

William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) American lawyer, statesman, politician, orator
Speech, National Democratic Convention, Chicago (1896)
Added on 9-Jun-16 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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Yes, Haven, most of us enjoy preaching, and I’ve got such a bully pulpit!

Roosevelt - bully pulpit - wist_info quote

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
(Attributed)

In George Haven Putnam, The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. 9, Introduction (1926). Roosevelt's reply when, during his first presidential term, Putnam accused him of tending to preach to people.
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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If a cause be good, the most violent attack of its enemies will not injure it so much as an injudicious defense of it by its friends.

Colton - injudicious defense - wist_info quote

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, #475 (1821 ed.)
Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 18-May-16
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Obstinacy in a bad cause is but consistency in a good.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, 1.25 (1642) [ed. Symonds (1886)]
Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 18-May-16
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There are things a man must not do even to save a nation.

Kempton - even to save a nation - wist_info quote

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
“To Save a Nation,” America Comes of Age (1963)
Added on 18-Apr-16 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
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Are there no ideals more stirring than those of martial glory? Is this generation conscious of calls to the service of native land in ways no more worthy than the way of taking a musket and killing somebody? You ask, in the language of Prof. James, for a moral equivalent for war. A patriot needs only look about to find numberless causes that ought to warm the blood and stir the imagination. The dispelling of ignorance and the fostering of education, the investigation of disease and the searching out of remedies that will vanquish the giant ills that decimate the race, the inculcation of good feeling in the industrial world, the cause of the aged, the cause of the men and women who had so little chance — tell me, has war anything that beckons as these things beckon with alluring and compelling power? Whoso wants to share the heroism of battle let him join the fight against ignorance and disease — and the mad idea that war is necessary.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) American industrialist and philanthropist
“A Plea for Peace,” New York Times (7 Apr 1907)
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Added on 8-Jan-16 | Last updated 8-Jan-16
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There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives.

Lorde - single issue - wist_info quote

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Learning from the 60s,” speech, Malcolm X weekend, Harvard University (Feb 1982)
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Reprinted in Sister Outsider (1984).
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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Like other idealisms, patriotism varies from a noble devotion to a moral lunacy.

Dean Inge - patriotism - wist-info

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)
Added on 12-Oct-15 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
“Gotta Serve Somebody” (1979)
Added on 25-Sep-15 | Last updated 25-Sep-15
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The essence of leadership is to get others to do something because they think you want it done and because they know it is worth while doing — that is what we are talking about.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Republican Campaign Picnic, Gettysburg (12 Sep 1956)
Added on 24-Sep-15 | Last updated 24-Sep-15
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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
(Spurious)

Not found in Lewis' writing. Variants:
  • James Waterman Wise, Jr., Christian Century (5 Feb 1936): "In a recent address here before the liberal John Reed club said that Hearst and Coughlin are the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any 'shirt' movement, nor with an 'insignia,' but it will probably be 'wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution.'"
  • Halford E. Luccock, Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938): "When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled 'made in Germany'; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism.'"
  • Harrison Evans Salisbury, The Many Americas Shall Be One (1971): "Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" [The quotation is not found in that book.]
Added on 4-Aug-15 | Last updated 4-Aug-15
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If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Harijan (6 Feb 1939)
Added on 17-Jul-15 | Last updated 17-Jul-15
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The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Sub-Treasury,” Speech, Illinois House of Representatives, Springfield (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 17-Mar-15 | Last updated 17-Mar-15
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Sorrow be damned & all your plans. Fuck the faithful, fuck the committed, the dedicated, the true believers; fuck all the sure & certain people prepared to maim & kill whoever got in their way; fuck every cause that ended in murder & a child crying.

Iain Banks (1954-2013) Scottish author
Against a Dark Background (1993)

Often paraphrased as "Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying."
Added on 23-Oct-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-14
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Be sure of the fact before you lose time in searching for a cause.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
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Added on 11-Sep-14 | Last updated 11-Sep-14
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The struggle which is not joyous is the wrong struggle. The joy of the struggle is not hedonism and hilarity, but the sense of purpose, achievement, and dignity.

Germaine Greer (b. 1939) English reformer, author, educator
The Female Eunuch, Introduction (1970)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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If it was a worthwhile fight, it didn’t matter who won; some good was sure to come of it.

Richard Brooks (1912-1992) American screenwriter, film director, novelist
Deadline: U.S.A. [film] (1952)

Line spoken by Ethyl Barrymore.
Added on 27-Aug-14 | Last updated 27-Aug-14
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Bolsheviks are sincere. Fascists are sincere. Lunatics are sincere. People who believe the Earth is flat are sincere. They can’t all be right. Better make certain first you’ve got something to be sincere about, and with.

Tom Driberg (1905-1976) British journalist and politician
Daily Express (1937)
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Added on 16-Jul-14 | Last updated 16-Jul-14
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What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, Dundee (10 Oct 1908)
Added on 26-May-14 | Last updated 25-Apr-17
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It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty, rather than of knowledge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #121 (14 May 1751)
Added on 31-Jan-14 | Last updated 31-Jan-14
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There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men. Imagine a congress of eminent celebrities, such as More, Bacon, Grotius, Pascal, Cromwell, Bossuet, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Napoleon, Pitt, etc. The result would be an Encyclopedia of Error.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
Letter to Mary Gladstone (24 Apr 1881)
Added on 14-Jan-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-14
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Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Sermon, Ebenezer Baptist Church (4 Feb 1968)

Full text. Adaptation by King of the 1952 homily "Drum-Major Instincts" by J. Wallace Hamilton. Paraphrased on the MLK memorial in Washington, DC, as, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness"; the inscription was later removed.
Added on 3-Sep-11 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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He that hath the worst Cause makes the most Noise

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #4203 (1732)
Added on 29-Dec-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Sometimes misquoted as: "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the decency to betray my country."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“On Being a Good Neighbor,” sec. 2, sermon, A Gift of Love (1963)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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