Selected Speeches

Senator Kennedy Addressing the Houston Ministerial Association

Read Senator Kennedy’s Speech at Greater Houston Ministerial Association

Video of the speech may be viewed on the Kennedy Library website.

“I believe in an America … where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice”

President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address

Read President Kennedy’s Speech at Inauguration

Video of the Inaugural Address may be viewed at the John F. Kennedy Library website

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty”

President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice University

Read President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice

Video of the speech may be viewed on the John F. Kennedy Library website

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win …”

President Kennedy’s Address at American University

Read President Kennedy’s Commencement Address at American University

Video of the speech may be viewed of the John F. Kennedy website

“What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women …”

“It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation … and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

We preach freedom … but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes …

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue …

Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States … to make a commitment … to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law.”

President Kennedy’s Speech for Dallas

“America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”


Kennedy’s team of speechwriters included Ted Sorensen, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., and Richard Goodwin.  No president can write every word of his speeches.  Yet, to quote from Ted Sorensen, “John Kennedy was the true author of all of his speeches and writings.  They set forth his ideals and ideas, his decisions and policies, his knowledge of history and of politics.  He played a role in every major speech, selecting the subject matter and themes, arguments and conclusions..  More importantly, he alone was responsible for the decision that lay at the heart of every major speech … which reflected turning points in American history for which he was responsible.” 1

1 Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, (Editors), JFK: A Vision for America, Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 2017. p 22.

Photo Credits:

Photo of Senator Kennedy and Audience Photo at Houston Ministerial Association, 1960. Courtesy of John F. KennedyPresidential Library and Museum

President Kennedy at Inauguration., 1961. Courtesy of John F. KennedyPresidential Library and Museum

Launch of John Glenn Spaceflight, February 20, 1962.  NASA.  Watch video of launch

Matador Missile.  Photo by U.S. Airforce. More than 1,000 Matador cruise missiles were produced and deployed between 1955 and 1961. The missile carried a conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead with a yield of 11-47 kilotons. For additional information see: Brookings Institution information on Matador cruise missile

Civil Rights March. Photographer Unknown.  Courtesy of Center for Jewish History, NYC @ Flickr Commons ( @NO8