An Old Ronald Reagan Speech From 1981 Is Going Viral For A Powerful Reason

"You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America."

Decades-old video of a speech by former president Ronald Reagan has been going viral in the days since the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed. Some are pointing to Reagan's stern condemnation of racism as an example of how a president should respond to such events.

Reagan made the speech at the 1981 NAACP convention, with NewsMax pointing out that just three months earlier, a Black man named Michael Donald had been lynched in Alabama. Three members of the Ku Klux Klan were eventually convicted of the crime.


In a clip shared by Twitter account The Reagan Battalion, Reagan addresses "those groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice."

"To those individuals who persist in such hateful behavior," the former president said, "if I were speaking to them instead of to you, I would say to them, 'You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America. And this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct."

Reagan's remarks were met with applause from the audience, after which he added, "My administration will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who, by violence or intimidation, would attempt to deny Americans their constitutional rights."

The Reagan Battalion called the former president's words "a message for the alt-right, neo nazis, bigots and racists." The video has since been retweeted more than 17,000 times. 

At the time the tweet was posted on Sunday, President Donald Trump had responded to the events in Charlottesville by condemning an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." Many were angered by his refusal to specifically denounce the far-right groups involved.

On Monday, Trump seemed to respond to the pressure by saying that "racism is evil" and describing "the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups" as "repugnant." Many described the clearly scripted comments as being too little too late. However, by Tuesday he was back to blaming "both sides" for the violence that occurred, even going so far as dubbing counter-protesters the "alt-left."

It seems that many would like to see Trump take a cue from a fellow Republican president.

HuffPost points out that Trump was invited to speak at the NAACP convention earlier this year, but he declined. The Hill reports that this decision broke with presidential tradition going back to Reagan himself.

You can watch an extended video of Reagan's remarks below:


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