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(1947) Henry A. Wallace, “Ten Extra Years”

Henry A. Wallace, the Vice President of the United States from 1941 to 1945 and the future candidate for the Presidency on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, chose the National Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma in December 1947 to outline his views on racial equality. The significance of the speechs title appears in its last two paragraphs.  The entire speech appears below.

I have not come here to address the convention of this great American fraternity—older than the state in which it holds its convention—in order to repeat simple truths.

I have not come here to recite facts about conditions you know fully well as I do—and which you have learned at more bitter cost.

Nor have I come to demonstrate my knowledge of the contributions the Negro people have made to building and defending this great nation.

These are themes better saved for audiences which have less grasp of the problem.  I used them recently in talking to large and receptive audiences in key southern cities.  I have used them, no less importantly, in many northern cities.  It is vital to prick consciences in the self-righteous North.

I am her to say: Jim Crow in America has simply got to go.

But I am not here to recite the economic facts and figures which support the case.  If there were no such facts, the simple immorality of segregation and discrimination is enough to condemn it.  It is enough to demand our every effort to destroy it.

I have come here to state my belief that the abolition of Jim Crow has top place on the agenda of a program for national defense.  I have come to say that until it is abolished the words “democracy” and “freedom” and “justice,” used so glibly to support our foreign policy, will ring hollow thorough-out the world.

I come to you as a liberal fellow American, one who served in the New Deal Administration which did more than any Administration since the time of Abraham Lincoln to improve the living conditions of the Negro people.  Yet I made these points only to emphasize that

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