Sargent Shriver Discusses the Peace Corps on Meet the Press (December 15, 1963)

This fiery interview, given in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, covers many topics that are still crucial for us in the 21st century. Sargent Shriver discusses the importance of the Peace Corps for the United States, from both a political and social perspective. He stresses the importance of cultivating service and fostering strong relations with other countries. Towards the end of the interview, Shriver says that there are “no racial problems in the Peace Corps.” Shriver was specifically referring to his belief that there was no racism in the organization’s hiring practices, a statement which he backs up by citing volunteer demographics. However, given the systemic nature of racism, it is impossible to listen to his statement and to believe that Black Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s experienced no racism. Sargent Shriver’s statement reminds us that those of us who are intent on upholding civil and human rights must be vigilant when it comes to seeing racial bias and discrimination. We must be aware, particularly if we are White, of our blind spots, and we must work to be anti-racist.

Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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