CIVIL RIGHTS SPEECHES - Amy Snider

09/16/03

A new book of civil rights speeches was published earlier this year. Ripples of Hope was compiled and edited by 28 year old Josh Gottheimer, who was a speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton. Gottheimer, now a Harvard Law student, spoke with WMNF’s Amy Snider about Ripples of Hope…

Josh Gottheimer worked in the West Wing for former president Bill Clinton for almost three years, after serving on the rapid communications team for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996. He was also a senior advisor to the United States Commission on civil rights.

This week, the nation marks the 40th anniversary of the death of four young black girls who were killed when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Gottheimer says that he saw a need for a book of civil rights speeches when he helped President Clinton to craft an address for a ceremony commemorating another historic day in Alabama, the 35th Anniversary of the Voting Rights March in Selma. Clinton instructed his staff to study great civil rights speeches of the past. That’s when Gottheimer learned that there was no book containing a chronology of historic American civil rights speeches.

Gottheimer tells which speeches he considers to be the most compelling in the book, Ripples of Hope…

Josh re:Dream and Ripples

The book contains over 100 speeches spanning more than 200 years of American history. It includes addresses by civil rights trailblazers such as Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. DuBois, Harvey Milk, Cesar Chavez, and Yuri Kochiyama. Ripples of Hope showcases those who use words, not weapons, to fight for equality. Gottheimer describes how Ripples of Hope can stir passion in the reader:

Josh

The book includes a previously unpublished address by the A Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Historian Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer-prize winning biographer of Dr. King, presented the speech to Gottheimer as a gift. King was followed by the FBI, and seen as a communist and rabble-rouser by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. FBI agents recorded many of King’s conversations and speeches. Branch transcribed the never-before published speech from FBI tapes. The speech was given to the foot soldiers, as King was in Selma in January 1965 to support blacks as they stood in line to register to vote….

Josh re:king and Selma

Gottheimer asserts that that all American Civil Rights movements are guided by the black civil rights struggle…

J re:anti-slavery

Gottheimer says he was drawn to Bill Clinton the instant he saw him on television when Clinton was the Governor of Arkansas. Gottheimer was in high school at the time.

J re:Clinton

Amy: You are…..

For more information about Ripples of Hope, Great American Civil Rights speeches, go to www. Ripples of Hope.com. For WMNF news, this is Amy Snider.

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