The following is the text of a speech delivered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at Howard University on April 10, 2013.
I’d like to thank President Ribeau, the Howard University faculty, and students for having me today.
Some people have asked if I’m nervous about speaking at Howard. They say “You know, some of the students and faculty may be Democrats...”
My response is that my trip will be a success if the Hilltop will simply print that a Republican came to Howard but he came in peace.
My wife Kelley asked me last week do you ever have doubts about trying to advance a message for an entire country?
The truth is, sometimes. When I do have doubts, I think of a line from T.S. Eliot, “how should I presume to spit out all the butt ends of my days and ways, and how should I presume.”
And when I think of how political enemies often twist and distort my positions, I think again of Eliot’s words: “when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, how should I presume?
And here I am today at Howard, a historically black college. Here I am, a guy who once presumed to discuss a section of the Civil Rights Act.
Some have said that I’m either brave or crazy to be here today. I’ve never been one to watch the world go by without participating. I wake up each day hoping to make a difference.
I take to heart the words of Toni Morrison of Howard University, who wrote: “If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
I can recite books that have been written, or I can plunge into the arena and stumble and maybe fall but at least I will have tried.
What I am about is a philosophy that leaves you -- to fill in the blanks.
I come to Howard today, not to preach, or prescribe some special formula for you but to say I want a government that leaves you alone, that encourages you to write the book that becomes your unique future.
You are more important than any political party, more important than any partisan pleadings.
The most important thing you will do is yet to be seen. For me, I found my important thing to do when I learned to do surgery on the eye, when I learned to restore a person’s vision.