Green Fleur-de-Lis, 1951, Anne Martin Wilson, “I Speak for Democracy”

Anne Martin Wilson's speech "I Speak for Democracy" for the "Speak for Democracy" contest

Anne Martin Wilson’s speech “I Speak for Democracy” for the “Speak for Democracy” contest. This artifact is dated December 7, 1951.
It reads “Page 10
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va., Friday, December 7, 1951
THE SPOTLIGHT
‘I Speak for Democracy’
The following, written by Anne Martin Wilson, won a Fredericksburg-area ‘I Speak For Democracy’ speech contest.
When our forefathers left their native lands, they came to America in answer to a call. They came searching for the adventure, the dream, the ideal—democracy. It was a young and urgent value.
The voices of great men in the House of Burgesses, in the Continental Congress, in Inaugural addresses, in speeches on the battlefields, in great papers and books have added strength to this voice. The voice has body behind it now. Those of men who have died in the Revolution, in the Civil War, in the World Wars, and in Korea. Men of four centuries who have heard the voice of democracy.
Today this is our voice. The voice of students, housewives, working people, merchants, congressmen, diplomats, citizens of the United States. We control this voice. It is now our job to say that ‘All men are created equal.’
With this voice, my voice, I must welcome the little Chinese girl in my care for the summer. She knows that her parents cannot now be imprisoned and tortured for their religious beliefs, but I must make her know that she and her little sister will not be tortured, in a different way, because of the color of their skin, or the shape of their eyes. Great writings of great men can say this. They cannot make her believe it. Only we, by our love, by our friendship, by our actions, by our voices, can really tell this to the heart of Huang Shih How. We must speak for Democracy.
We must let a Finnish girl visit our country know this voice. Her home is not a twenty-minute drive from a Russian naval base. She has been told that Americans are cold, self-centered, intolerant. She has her own democratic government suffer the second World War. Maybe the Communists are right. She has seen our large cities. True, we are a wealthy and prosperous nation, but the people of the cities seem hurried, cold, self-centered, unfriendly. When all one’s friends are a ocean away, wealth and prosperity mean little. Fellowship, and love seem so very necessary. If I can make her hear the voice of friendship, I can speak for democracy. If I can show her our schools, our churches, our people, she can know how very much our way of life means to us. Our way of life is democracy. It must be seen to be heard. When Pirkko Alakari writes from Helsinki, ‘I hope to see you soon again, and hear your voice,’ we have spoken for democracy.
Before I can make the voice of democracy heard through me, I must hear the voice myself, I must know that to say all men are created equal does not mean all white men, all Christians, all protestants, all people on the right side of tracks, or all people whose families have been in this country since 1850. If I speak for democracy, I know that ‘ALL men are created equal.’
When working with negroes in an organization like the United Christian Youth Movement, when I can cease to say, ‘I am wonderful to work with them,’ and say instead, ‘They are wonderful friends,’ I truly speak for democracy.
Only when I can greet a friend on the street and stop in chat, and not have a thought of being embarrassed because of a difference in the value of our clothes, the color of our skin, our religious beliefs, or our stations in life, am I allowing democracy to speak through me. And only when I do this do I speak for democracy.
ANNE MARTIN WILSON”

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