A Message About Justice from the Campaign Trail

“No-knock and preventive detention are not bills that will reduce the crime rate...They will reduce a citizen’s rights in a free society. They mean that a man’s home can be invaded upon the mere whim of a law enforcement official. They mean that a man is guilty until proven innocent.”
Sargent Shriver | Philadelphia, PA| August 18, 1972

Our Quote of the Week, from Sargent Shriver’s 1972 Vice Presidential campaign, makes a statement about justice that continues to feel timely, and urgent, in 2020.

In an explosive and sweeping campaign speech to Black broadcasters at the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers, Sargent Shriver raised several issues that continue to occupy the minds of many voters in 2020. He criticized political leaders who were prone to hypocrisy and dishonesty. He lamented the fact that TV and other media did not accurately depict the diversity of Americans, with broadcasters often choosing to favor “the world of middle class whites.” He acknowledged the economic struggles of far too many Americans, particularly those of BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). And he stressed that to address all of these issues would be “to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens.”

Shriver’s emphasis on race and justice is evident throughout the speech. This isn’t surprising, given his training as an attorney, his work in civil rights, and his efforts in poverty law. In 2020, we continue to deal with the impact of unjust policies that have roots, as Shriver points out, in President Nixon’s War on Drugs. The acceleration of mass incarceration and the trauma of no-knock policies continue today--think, for example, of Breonna Taylor’s killing, which was a direct result of a no-knock raid. As we head towards the end of the current presidential campaign, we must demand a new direction from our leaders, so that the systemic injustices that have robbed the freedoms and derailed the lives of millions of Americans come to an end.

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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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