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President Kennedy Warns Demonstrators and Segregationists

July 17, 1963 - President Kennedy had words of advice and warning today for both civil rights demonstrators and ardent segregationists. To the demonstrators, he said, “Avoid violence.” To the segregationists, he said, “Redress grievances.” At a news conference, the President gave his approval of a march in Washington Aug. 28. As planned, he said, this will not be “a march on Washington.” Rather it is “in the great tradition” of peaceable assembly “for a redress of grievances,” he said. “I’ll look forward to being here,” he declared. “I’m sure members of Congress will be here. We want citizens to come to Washington if they feel that they’re not having their rights expressed.” It is a different situation, however, the President said, where the demonstrators get caught up in a cycle, as they are now in Cambridge, Md., and “almost lost sight of what the demonstration is about” because of the violence. Such demonstrations go beyond youth protest, he declared, and do not advance the cause of equal opportunity. He said that he had warned before against demonstrations that could lead to violence and bloodshed, and “I warn now against it.”


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