Say Mean Matter: Kennedy’s Civil Rights Speech Say Mean Matter What does the text say? Cite text (quotation) What does the author mean? How do I interpret this? Read “between the lines.” INFER. Why does it matter to me or others? What is the significance? What are the implications? “I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents… the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Kennedy states that the Civil Rights issues in Alabama are important no matter where you live, and he wants each American to examine his or her response to the events taking place in the 1960s. The rights of any segment of the population being threatened is a threat to all of the population. Kennedy is reminding Americans that a problem for some Americans is a problem for all Americans. Just because a person does not live in Alabama or is not black does not mean that he or she should not do anything within his or her power to work towards civil rights. That a white man was saying this gave hope to black citizens. “This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety.” . Changing a law does not change a person’s heart. Passing laws that support Civil Rights is very important, but Americans must also make sure their personal belief system supports civil rights for all. It is past time for goals of The Emancipation Proclamation to become reality in daily lives of black citizens in America. Americans must join to make this happen.