This transcription is provided by Sharon Carlson, Professor Emerita University Libraries and former Director Zhang Legacy Collections Center.
December 18, 1963
The program normally heard at this time will be delayed this evening so that we may present the following special direct broadcast.
We now leave our studios.
Garrard Macleod: Good evening, this is Garrard Macleod speaking to you from the Herman W. Read Fieldhouse on the west campus of Western Michigan University. This evening we present an address by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. His topic tonight will be "Social Justice." Dr. King's address this evening will be the first in a series of three lectures on the topic "Conscience of America." Dr. King's appearance here at Western is being sponsored cooperatively by the University's Honors College and the University Assembly Programs Committee and the Student Council. Arrangements for tonight's address and the other lectures in the series, entitled "Conscience of America" were made by Dr. Samuel Clark, Director of the Honors College. The crowd so far tonight is surprisingly small here at the Field House. Of course, we have only to observe that it is a miserable night and very shortly now, we'll be hearing from Dr. King. His topic, as we mentioned, "Social Justice." Dr. King will be introduced by Western Michigan University President, James W. Miller. Dr. Miller will be introduced by Dr. Sam Clark who is Director of the Honors College.
While we're waiting for the program to begin tonight we might look briefly at some of the background of Martin Luther King. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, January 15, 1929, son of Dr. and Mrs. Martin L. King, Senior. Dr. King, Senior, is co‐pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King, Junior, is married to Coretta Scott. They have four children. Our speaker tonight received his education, his elementary and high school education, in the public schools of Atlanta, Georgia. His educational career then branched out somewhat, in fact, quite a good deal. He received his bachelor's degree at Morehouse College in 1948 and his bachelor of divinity degree at Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pennsylvania in 1951. He also studied at the University of Pennsylvania, 1950 to 51. He studied at Harvard University, 1952‐53. He received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1955.
Coming now to the speaker's stand, Dr. Sam Clark, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, and Western Michigan University's President, Dr. James W. Miller. In just a moment we will begin our program tonight. Dr. Clark is now coming to the podium. We take you now to the podium and Dr. Samuel Clark.
Dr. Samuel Clark: Four announcements before the program begins. The annual Christmas concert of the University choir has been scheduled for this evening. They have kindly postponed their program until tomorrow. The concert will occur tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. in the University theater.
A question and answer period will follow this evening's address. Those of you who wish to ask a question may do so by writing it out on a piece of paper and giving it to one of the ushers that are above. They also have cards on which you can write your questions. The ushers will bring them down to the platform.
Our speaker for this evening must leave the field house at 9:30 in order to catch a plane a little after 10:00. We are asking that you remain seated for just a while after the program ends in order that he may leave. There is the possibility of many people wanting to meet him and get autographs and so on, but the very tight schedule in getting out to the airport prevents this. President James Miller will introduce the speaker for this evening.
Dr. James Miller: Students, faculty, and guests of the University. My assignment is a most pleasant one. I've been asked to first to draw your attention to the complete University symposium lecture series on the "Conscience of America" and also to introduce our distinguished speaker at the first of this series of lectures.
An educational institution has many purposes. Certainly one of these purposes is to prepare individuals to the point that they will possess not only superior qualities of analysis to go to the heart of complex problems, of which we have an abundance, but also to have the courage and the ability to state their convictions clearly, concisely, and openly. But this is not enough.
There is yet another purpose. The logical consequence of study and thought is action. If you don't remember anything else, remember that. The logical consequence of study and thought is action. Otherwise, this whole business of education is a sham. Higher education can be rightfully proud of its position of leadership in the areas of technical and scientific revolutions. Where we have fallen down is in producing leaders in matters political, moral, cultural, and spiritual. These are the areas in which we should be seeking a revolution. The spiritual strength of America demands personal development and involvement in matters not only economic but also spiritual, social, and moral. The President Emeritus of Brown University, Dr. Henry M. Wristin, said, "An underdeveloped citizen physically, mentally, and morally is not an energizer but a burden upon society."
For these reasons, we are most certainly pleased that our faculty and our student council have arranged for this series of lectures and discussions on the "Conscious of America." The series opens this evening with a discussion of "Social Justice." The second topic will be "Wealth and the Human Spirit" and the third will be "Peace and Force." No more significant series of lectures could be offered on any university campus.
We are most fortunate to have as a speaker in the first of the "Conscience of America" series a man who was cited in 1957 by the Gallop Poll as one of the most admired religious leaders in the world. He is the same man who was selected in 1957 by Time Magazine as one of the ten outstanding personalities of the year. His citations, more than seventy‐five in number, include one which I feel it is most important to call to your attention, namely, that our speaker is ranked as one of the sixteen world leaders who contributed most to the advancement of freedom in the year 1959. This was a poll conducted by Link Magazine of New Delhi, India. In addition to his regular duties as co‐pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, our speaker has authored several books. The three most recent are "Stride Toward Freedom" published by Harper and Brothers in 1958. This book received a Ainsfield‐Wolf award as the best book on race relations in 1958 "The Measure of Man" published the Christian Education Press in 1959 and most recently, back in this year, 1963, "Strength to Love" published by Harper and Row. Our speaker is married. He is the father of four children. He was educated in the public schools of Atlanta, Georgia, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University from 1950 to 1953. In 1955, he received his Ph. D. degree in the field systematic theology from Boston University in the east. His thesis was "A Comparison of God in the thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman." This will be of particular interest to our students and faculty in the department of philosophy and religion at Western. He holds honorary degrees from a dozen or more universities throughout this country. Now that I've said all of this, may I say that his real importance as an individual is that while he has personally had to meet great adversity to gain his knowledge, he has done with his knowledge what all educated people should do, namely, he has put it to use for public advantage. It gives me great pleasure at this time to introduce on the Western Michigan University campus, a distinguished theologian, a gentleman of thought, and a leader for nonviolent action, the Reverend Martin King, Junior. Reverend King.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: President Miller, Dr. Clark, members of the faculty and members of the student body of this great institution of learning, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here and to have the opportunity of being a part of your lecture series. I think I should say in the beginning that I owe you and this University a great apology. I am so sorry that I was unable to fulfil my commitment on the second of December and I can assure you that was because of health circumstances beyond my control, but I am very happy that we could rearrange this date and I want to express my appreciation to the committee and to the University for extending the invitation. It is always a rich and rewarding experience for me when I can take a brief break from the day to day and hour to hour demands of our struggle in the South to discuss the issues involved in this struggle with college and university students. So again, I say I am very delighted to be here.
In line with the theme that has been selected for this series, I would like to use as a subject from which to speak a social justice and the emerging new age. Some time ago the former prime minister to England, Mr. Harold MacMillan, was taking a trip through Africa. He stopped at one point to make this significant statement, "The wind of change is blowing in Africa." Certainly, we can enlarge that statement by saying the wind of change is blowing all over our world today. It is sweeping away an old order and bringing into being a new order.
Now we are all familiar with this old order that is passing away. We have lived with it and we have seen it in all of its dimensions. We have seen the old order in its international dimensions in the form of colonialism and imperialism. As you know, the vast majority of the peoples of our world live in Asia and Africa. For many, many years, people of these two continents were dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated and humiliated by some foreign power. But even there we notice change has taken place. I can remember when Mrs. King and I first journeyed to Africa to attend the independence celebration of the new nation of Ghana. We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa. But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty‐seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.
But not only have we seen the old order in its international dimensions, we have seen it in our own nation in the form of slavery and racial segregation. We all know the long history of the old order in America. It had its beginning in 1619 when the first slaves landed on the shores of this nation. They were brought here from the soils of Africa. Unlike the Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their wills. Throughout slavery, the Negro was treated in a very inhuman fashion. He was a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. He was merely a depersonalized cog in a vast plantation machine. The famous Dred Scott decision of 1857 well illustrated the status of the Negro during slavery. For in this decision, the Supreme Court of the United States said in substance that the Negro is not a citizen of this nation, he is merely property subject to the dictates of his owner. It went on to say that the Negro has no rights that the white man is bound to respect.
Living with the conditions of slavery and then later segregation, many Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were less than human, perhaps they were inferior. But then something happened to the Negro. Circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more. The coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the great depression. So his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. His economic life was gradually rising and even his cultural life was gradually rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy.
All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro to take a new look at himself. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of his children and that all men are made in his image. That the basic thing about a man is not his specificity but his fundamental. Not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin but his eternal dignity and worth. So the Negro could now unconsciously cry out with the eloquent poet. "Fleecy locks and black complexions cannot alter nature's claim. Skins may differ, but affection dwells in blacks and white the same. If I was so tall to reach the poll, or grasp the ocean with a span I must be judge by my soul, the mind is the standard of the man!"
With this new sense of dignity and this new sense of self‐respect, a new Negro came into being, with the new determination to struggle, to suffer and sacrifice in order to be free. With this reevaluation of the heart of the Negro of his basic intrinsic nature, we could see something of a gradual decline and a gradual end in the old order.
Then some else happened to bring about a gradual end to the old order in the United States, the Supreme Court, as I said, had rendered in 1857 the Dred Scott Decision. In 1896, the Supreme Court of our nation rendered another decision which was known as the Plessy versus Ferguson Decision. Here the doctrine of separate but equal was established as a law of the land. Then in 1954, the Supreme Court of our nation came out with another decision. It examined the legal body of segregation and pronounced it constitutionally dead. On May 17 of that year, the United States Supreme Court said the old Plessy doctrine must go, that separate facilities are inherently unequal and that to segregate a child on the basis on his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law. As a result of this decision, we've seen numerous changes in our nation. To put it figuratively in biblical language, we've broken loose from the Egypt of slavery and we have moved through the wilderness of legal segregation and now we stand on the border of the promised land of integration. The old order of segregation is passing away. The new order of freedom, justice, and human dignity is coming into being. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that the system of segregation is on its deathbed today. The only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists will make the funeral. The old order is passing away. The new order is coming into being.
Now whenever anything new comes into history, it brings with it news responsibilities and new challenges. I would like to mention some of the challenges that we face in the world and in our nation as a result of this emerging new age of social justice. I would like to start on the world scale by saying more than ever before that men and women are challenged to develop a world perspective.
The world in which we live is geographically one. Now we are challenged to make it one in terms of brotherhood. Now it is true that the geographical oneness of this age has come into being to a large extent through man's scientific ingenuity. Man through his scientific genius has been able to dwarf distance and place, time and change. Our jet plans have compressed minutes into distances that once took months and weeks and days. I think Bob Hope has adequately described this new jet age in which we live. He said "It is an age in which it is possible to take a non‐stop flight from Los Angeles, California to New York city‐‐a distance of some three thousand miles‐‐and if on taking off in Los Angeles you develop hiccups, you will 'hic' in Los Angeles and 'cup' in New York City." You know it is possible because time difference to take a non‐stop flight from Tokyo, Japan on Sunday morning and arrive in Seattle, Washington on the preceding Saturday night and when your friends meet you at the airport and ask when you left Tokyo, you will have to say, I left tomorrow. Now this is a bit humorous but I'm trying to laugh a basic fact into all of us. It is simply this, that through our scientific genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood. Now through our ethical and moral commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. This is the great challenge of the hour. This is true of individuals. It is true of nations. No individual can live alone. No nation can live alone.
Some time ago, it was our good fortune to journey to that great country known as India. I never will forget the experience. I never will forget the marvelous experiences that came to Mrs. King and I as we met and talked with the great leaders of India, met and talked with hundreds and thousands of people all over the cities and villages of that vast country. These experiences will remain dear to me as long as the chords of memories shall linger. But I must also say that there were those depressing moments, for how can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes millions of people going to bed hungry at night? How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes millions of people sleeping on the sidewalks at night, no beds to sleep in, no houses to go in. How can one avoid being depressed when he discovers that out of India's population, more than 400,000,000 people, some 380,000,000 earn less than ninety dollars a year. Most of these people have never seen a doctor or dentist. As I notice these conditions, something within me cried out, "Can we in America stand idly by and not be concerned?" Then an answer came, "Oh, no, because the destiny of the United States is tied up with the destiny of India and every other nation." I started thinking about the fact that we spend millions of dollars a day to store surplus food. I said to myself, I know where we can store that food free of charge, the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God's children that go to bed hungry at night.
All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms. "No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of a Continent, a part of the main." He goes on toward the end to say "Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee." It seems to me that this is the first challenge. This emerging new age.
There is another basic challenge. We are challenged to get rid of the notion, once and for all, that there are superior and inferior races. This notion still lingers around in various quarters in spite of the fact that certain intellectual disciplines like the anthropological sciences have said to us that there isn't any truth in this. Great anthropologists like Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead and the late Melville Herskovits and others have said that through their long years of study there is not truth in the idea there are superior and inferior races. There may be superior and inferior individuals academically within all races, but there are no superior and inferior races. We have learned there are four types of blood and these four types of blood are found within all racial groups, and yet, the notion still lingers around there are superior and inferior races.
Now there was a time when people used to argue this notion on the basis of religion and the Bible. It is tragic how individuals will often use religion and the Bible or misuse religion and the Bible to crystalize a status quo and justify their prejudices. So it was argued from some pulpits that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. Then the apostle Paul's dictum became a watchword "Servants be obedient to your masters."
Then one brother probably studied the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle. You know Aristotle did a great deal to bring into being what we now know as formal logic. Formal logic has a big word called the syllogism. The syllogism has a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. And so this brother decided to put his argument of the inferiority of the Negro in the framework of an Aristotelian syllogism. He could say all men are made in the image of God. This was his major premise. Then came the minor premise. God is, as everybody knows, not a Negro; therefore, the Negro is not a man. This was the type of reasoning that prevailed and it still gets around. I read just the other day where someone in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens Council. These ideas still linger. But on the whole, the Biblical justifications have passed away. The arguments are now on more subtle sociological cultural grounds. The Negro is not culturally ready for integration, the argument goes, and if you integrate the schools and other facilities, you will pull the white race back a generation. And the Negro is a criminal, you see. These arguments go on ad infinatum. The people who set forth these arguments never go on to say that if there are lagging standards in the Negro community, and there certainly are, they lag because of segregation and discrimination. Criminal responses and other things like this are environmental and not racial. Economic deprivation, social isolation, ignorance, poverty breed crime, whatever the racial group may be, and it is a tortuous logic to use the tragic results of segregation as an argument for the continuation of it. There is a need to go for the causal root, to grapple with the problem at that point and to get rid of the notion once and for all that there are superior and inferior races. There are too many things alive in our nation and in our world to disprove this notion that has existed all too long. Then we're challenged after working in the realm of ideas, to move out into the arena of social action and to work passionately and unrelentingly to make racial justice a reality. In other words, there is great need to develop an action program in order to remove all of the vestiges of the old order.
Now in order to do this, we must answer and deal with one or two myths that are still disseminated and often block powerful social action in order to grapple with the evils of society. One argument is the myth of time. This myth says in substance that only time can solve problems that we face in the area of human relations. So there are those who say to individuals struggling to make justice a reality. Why don't you wait and stop pushing so hard. If you will just be patient and wait 100 or 200 years the problem will work itself out. Well this argument still goes around. The only answer that one can give to this myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. I'm convinced that the people of ill‐will in our nation have often used time much more effectively that the people of good will. It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people who will bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama but for the appalling silence of the good people who sit idly by and say wait on time. Somewhere along the way we must see that time will never solve the problem alone but that we must help time. Somewhere we must see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels on inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co‐workers with God. Without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social stagnation. We must always help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.
Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you've got to change the heart and you can't change the heart through legislation. You can't legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there's half‐truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. [APPLAUSE] So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government.
The late President Kennedy, great late president of our nation, who faced the tragedy of an assassin's bullet, just a few months ago stood before this nation and said we face a moral issue in the area of human relations. Every American must be treated as a person. He went on to say that equality of opportunity must be a reality for every American if the American dream is to be a reality. Immediately after that, he recommended to the Congress of our nation the strongest package of civil rights legislation, the most comprehensive ever presented by any president of the United States. Now the challenge is before the Congress of our nation to pass this legislation, to pass this legislation because it is a moral issue, to pass this legislation because it is a necessity to make democracy a reality for all people of this nation, but we still see delaying tactics. We still see evasive schemes being used. We still see southern congressman tying up basic legislation in a particular committee, in this instance, the Rules Committee. We still see the possibility of the filibuster ahead in the senate. There is a great need at this hour for all people of good will of this nation to get together and say that this legislation must be passed and that it must be passed soon. I'm convinced that if it is not passed, this ugly sore of racial segregation on the body politic of our nation will suddenly turn malignant and we will be inflicted with an incurable cancer that will totally destroy the soul of American society. So that is a great opportunity ahead. As President Lyndon Johnson said in his first speech to the nation as he addressed Congress a few days ago, "The greatest tribute that we can pay to late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is to pass, and pass soon, the Civil Rights legislation that he recommended and then go out to implement this legislation after it is enacted." There is a need for legislation, as I said, in every state in our union. For this problem is not just a local sectional problem, it is national problem. De facto segregation in the north must be grappled with, with as seriousness and concern as de jure legislation in the south. We must come to see that quality of opportunity and employment must be a reality in northern communities as well as southern communities. There is need for legislation to make all of this a reality. There is need for legislation to make housing open so that there would be no discrimination in this area. For as long as there is residential segregation, there will be de facto segregation in every area of life. So the challenge is here to develop an action program.
Now I would not want to leave you with the impression that there is not a great role for the Negro himself to play in the area of action if freedom is to be a reality. This is why in the movement, in the south and over the nation, we've tried to say in figurative language that freedom is not some lavish dish that the federal government will pass out on the silver platter while the Negro merely furnishes the appetite. If freedom is to be a reality for the Negro, he must be willing to sacrifice and struggle for it and suffer when necessary. This is what we've tried to do in this whole struggle and this nonviolent revolution which is taking place in our nation.
I would like to say just a few words about this philosophy and method of nonviolence since it constitutes such a prominent place in our whole struggle. I am still convinced that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. There is power and real power in this method. First it has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale and at the same time it works on his conscience. He just doesn't know how to handle it. If he doesn't beat you, wonderful. If he sets out to beat you, you develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without retaliating. If he doesn't put you in jail, wonderful. Nobody with any sense loves to go jail. If he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that some things are so precious, that there are some things so dear, some things so eternally worthful, that they are worth dying for. If an individual has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live. When one discovers this, there is power in this method. It disarms the opponent, and he just doesn't know how to deal with it. I've seen this so many times in our struggle in the south. I've seen the opponents as they sought to block the advance of the nonviolent movement and whenever sporadic outbreaks of violence took place, they were very happy. They were not happy when there was an absolute commitment to nonviolence because they don't quite know how to handle nonviolence. It has this power. It has this way of disarming the opponent.
There is another thing about this method that is very important. It give the individual a method of struggling for moral ends through moral means. One of the great debates of history has been over the whole question of ends and means. There have been those individuals from Greek philosophy right on down to Machiavelli right on up to the present day who argue that the end justifies the means. I think this is one of the great weaknesses of communism. Right here, the argument that it doesn't matter about the means. Any method is justifiable in as much as it brings about the end of the goal of the classless society. This is where the nonviolent movement would break with communism or any other system that argues that the end justifies the means because in the long run of history the end is pre‐ existing in the means. The means represent the ideal in the making and the end in process. It is a wonderful thing to have a method of struggle that says you can use moral means to gain moral ends.
For there is another thing about this philosophy that says you can stand before an unjust system and resist it with all your might and yet maintain an attitude of active good will toward the perpetrators of that unjust system. So it goes on to say that the ethic of love can stand at the center of the nonviolent movement. Now when I talk about love at this point, people always have questions to raise. They begin to say, what do you mean, love those who are bombing your home and those who are oppressing you and using any method to keep you in the state of injustice, the state of slavery. How in the world can you love such people? Well let me rush on to say that when I speak of love, I'm not talking about emotional bosh. I think in so many instances, this whole idea is misunderstood. It is absurd to urge oppressed people to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. I'm not talking about an affectionate emotion at this point. I think the Greek language comes to our rescue at this point, there are three words in the Greek language for love.
There is the word "eros." Eros is a sort of aesthetic love, a yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. Plato used to talk about it a great deal in his dialogues. It has come to us to be a sort of romantic love. So we all know about eros. We have experienced it and read it in all of the beauties of literature. In a sense, Edgar Allen Poe was talking about eros when he talked about his beautiful Annabel Lee with a love surrounded by the halo of eternity. In a sense Shakespeare was talking about eros when he said "Love is not love which alters when an alteration finds or bends with the removal to remove. It is an ever fixed mark which looks on tempest and is never shaken. It is a star to every wandering bark." You know, I can remember that because I have quote it to my wife every now and then. That's eros.
The Greek language talks about "philia" which is the sort of intimate affection between personal friends. This is a significant love and on this level, you love people that you like, people that you have dealings with, people that are friends. This is friendship.
Then the Greek language comes out with the word, "agape." Agape is more than romantic or aesthetic love. Agape is more than friendship. Agape is creative, understanding, redemptive good will for all men. It is an overflowing love that seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that this is the love of God operating in the human heart. When one rises to love on this level, he loves every man. He rises to the point of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I believe that this is the kind of love that can carry us through this period of transition. This is what we've tried to teach through this nonviolent discipline.
So in many instances, we have been able to stand before the most violent opponents and say in substance, we will meet your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because non‐cooperation with evil is just as much moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Threaten our children and bomb our homes and our churches and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half‐dead, and as difficult as that is, we will still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory. This is a nonviolent message. It has brought about many amazing changes. It has brought about integration at lunch counters in more than 350 cities in the South since the sit‐in movement of 1960. It has brought an end, almost, to segregation in public transportation all over the south since the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and 6, the nonviolent freedom rides in 1961, and many changes are still taking place.
There is another thing about this attitude. We'll help those of us who have been the victims of oppression, and those of us who have been the victims of injustices in the old order, to go into the new order with the proper attitude, an attitude of reconciliation. It will help us to go in not with an idea of rising from position of disadvantage, to one of advantage, thus subverting justice. It will not cause us to substitute one tyranny for another. This is why I have said all over this nation that we must never substitute a doctrine of black supremacy for white supremacy. For the doctrine of black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers.
I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice.
May I reiterate the problem will not work itself out. May I reiterate that it is not a sectional problem. No area of our country can boast of clean hands in the realm of brotherhood. It is one thing for a white person of good will in the north to rise up with righteous indignation when a bus is burning in Anniston, Alabama with freedom riders or when a church is burned or bombed in Birmingham, Alabama killing four, unoffending, innocent beautiful girls. When in Jackson, Mississippi a Medgar Evers is shot down or when in Oxford, Mississippi, some fifteen or sixteen thousand troops are necessary for our courageous James Meredith to go to a university of that state. A white person of good will in the north must rise up with as much righteous indignation when a Negro cannot live in his neighborhood, when a Negro cannot get a job in his firm, when a Negro cannot join his professional society, when a Negro cannot join his fraternity or her sorority. In other words, if this problem is to be solved there must be a sort of divine discontent all over this nation.
There are certain technical words within every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and cliches. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word "maladjusted." This word is the ringing cry to modern child psychology. Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well‐adjusted life in order to avoid neurosis, schizophrenic personalities.
But I say to you, my friends, as I move to my conclusion, there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good‐will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence. But in a day when sputniks and explorers are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. It is no longer the choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament. The alternative to absolute suspension of nuclear tests. The alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. This is why I welcome the recent test‐ban treaty.
In other words, I'm about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment‐‐men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. Who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation would not survive half‐slave and half‐free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery would scratch across the pages of history words lifted to cosmic proportions, "We know these truths to be self‐evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights" that among these are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who could say to the men and women of his day, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you." Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. My faith is that somehow this problem will be solved.
In spite of the difficulties of this hour, I am convinced that we have the resources to make the American Dream a reality. I am convinced of this because I believe Carlyle is right. "No lie can live forever." I am convinced of this because I believe William Cullen Bryant is right. "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." I am convinced of this because I think James Russell Lowell is right. "Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne; Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own." Somehow with this faith, we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new life into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation to a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. This will be a great day. This will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free at last!" Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
"To put it figuratively in biblical language, we've broken loose from the Egypt of slavery and we have moved through the wilderness of legal segregation and now we stand on the border of the promised land of integration. The old order of segregation is passing away."
"There can be no gainsaying of the fact that the system of segregation is on its deathbed today. The only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists will make the funeral."
"Economic deprivation, social isolation, ignorance, poverty breed crime, whatever the racial group may be, and it is a tortuous logic to use the tragic results of segregation as an argument for the continuation of it."
"The world in which we live is geographically one. Now we are challenged to make it one in terms of brotherhood."
"Now through our ethical and moral commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. This is the great challenge of the hour. This is true of individuals. It is true of nations. No individual can live alone. No nation can live alone."
"I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
"[W]e're challenged after working in the realm of ideas, to move out into the arena of social action and to work passionately and unrelentingly to make racial justice a reality."
"[W]e must never substitute a doctrine of Black supremacy for white supremacy. For the doctrine of Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers."
"But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also."
"There is a great need at this hour for all people of good will of this nation to get together and say that this legislation must be passed and that it must be passed soon."
"I'm convinced that if it is not passed, this ugly sore of racial segregation on the body politic of our nation will suddenly turn malignant and we will be inflicted with an incurable cancer that will totally destroy the soul of American society."
"I am still convinced that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. There is power and real power in this method."
"If he sets out to beat you, you develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without retaliating . . . If he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that some things are so precious, that there are some things so dear, some things so eternally worthful, that they are worth dying for. If an individual has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
"[T]here is another thing about this philosophy that says you can stand before an unjust system and resist it with all your might and yet maintain an attitude of active good will toward the perpetrators of that unjust system. So it goes on to say that the ethic of love can stand at the center of the nonviolent movement."
"[W]hen I speak of love, . . . this whole idea is misunderstood . . . [T]he Greek language comes out with the word, agape. . . . Agape is creative, understanding, redemptive good will for all men. Theologians would say that this is the love of God operating in the human heart. When one rises to love on this level, he loves every man. He rises to the point of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I believe that this is the kind of love that can carry us through this period of transition."
"So in many instances, we have been able to stand before the most violent opponents and say in substance, we will meet your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you." "[T]hrow us in jail and we will still love you. Threaten our children and bomb our homes and our churches and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half‐dead, and as difficult as that is, we will still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory."
"It is no longer the choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament."
"The alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation."
"[I]f this problem is to be solved there must be a sort of divine discontent all over this nation."
"I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. My faith is that somehow this problem will be solved."
"In spite of the difficulties of this hour, I am convinced that we have the resources to make the American Dream a reality."
"With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation to a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Macleod: Dr. Martin Luther King, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior, speaking on Social Justice and the Emerging New Age. Dr. King is now receiving a standing ovation from the audience assembled here at the Western Michigan University Read Field House.
Here now, is President Miller.
Miller: Dr. Martin Luther King, we thank you for your presentation. The audience has indicated its enthusiastic reception of your remarks. I might say here before I read the first question that Western Michigan University gained the name of University de jure in 1957. What is much more difficult an accomplishment is to get it de facto. Certainly, one aspect of it is to have a faculty and to have a student body that can look at one another and see men and women and only men and women and not a social class, or an economic class or a race or a creed or a national origin. This is what we seek. This is what a university means. I like to think that we are making significant headway in that direction. I wouldn't say we've reached the millennium but this is the goal and this is a proper goal of a university, the only goal that it can seek in this respect. The question that I have here is:
Dr. King, your earnest attempts to help the Negro people have earned the respect of many, many Americans, but faced with the rising tide of Negro indignation and anger, how long do you believe they will follow your peaceful submission, turn the other cheek philosophy? Please discuss the possibility of a nation‐wide riot between the Negro and the white race.
Dr. King: I don't see any prospect for a nation‐wide riot between the Negro and white race. Certainly, if we can continue to make progress in civil rights and remove the conditions that make for discontent and that make for anger and resentment within the Negro community, we will not even have the possibility of this type of negative and tragic development in our nation. Fortunately, the Negro has been willing, up to this point, to follow the nonviolent method. I'm not saying the 20 million Negroes of America believe in nonviolence as a way of life or as a creed, but I think the vast majority of Negroes have at least come to see that this is the most practical technique to use at this time. It would not only be immoral, but it would be impractical for the Negro to turn to violence. We have neither the techniques nor the instruments of violence. Many of our opponents would welcome this development in Alabama and Mississippi and some other states in the deep south. I don't think that violence is the answer. I don't think that the vast majority of Negroes feel this. We have made our greatest gains through nonviolent insistence.
I think that when one comes to see the true meaning of nonviolence, and to see that this is a strong method and not a do‐nothing method. It doesn't mean that you sit down and just passively accept evil. You really stand up against it, but you come to see that you have a more powerful weapon when you stand up against it through nonviolent methods. You stand up against it without using methods of violence. So by boycotts, if necessary, by picketing, if necessary, by sit‐ins, if necessary, by mass pilgrimages, if necessary‐‐all of these things are methods of nonviolent direct action in which individuals are able to do something and yet, they are doing it nonviolently. I believe firmly that the Negro has come to see the power of this approach, even though he has had a legitimate summer of discontent in 1963, there will be no widespread turn to violence on the part of the Negro in 1964.
Miller: Dr. King, another question, do you feel it is socially just to place a colored person in a high position because of his color, bypassing in the same act many white men who have priority because of their seniority?
King: Well I guess there are two things that must be said about this whole question and this whole problem of preferential treatment for Negroes and hiring policies. First, I think we must all see that there is a general problem in our economy and the nation must face it aggressively. This problem has been brought into being because of automation and automation must be grappled with and used for good rather than to put a lot of people out of work. Now the government, working with industry and labor, must deal with this problem.
So the first thing I'm concerned about is full employment for everybody. Now the Negro has suffered more because of automation than whites because the Negro, with limited educational opportunities and having been denied apprenticeship training in so many instances and outright discrimination, has been limited to unskilled and semi‐skilled labor. In the day of automation, these are the jobs that are passing away so the Negro gets a double for outright discrimination and automation doing away with certain jobs. I'm concerned about full employment.
On the other hand, I think we must honestly face a fact if one gets behind in a race, he must eternally remain behind or run faster than the man in front. You've got to give him the equipment to catch up. Now the fact is that the Negro has had 244 years of slavery in America and working without wages and then he's had a hundred years of segregation and mistreatment in generally. Now, he's faced with a very serious problem and that is that he is required to be as productive as people who have not had these conditions and the only thing that a society can do for individuals who have been deprived of something is to give them a little special treatment. Now you don't put anybody out of a job, but you just make it possible for the individuals who are behind to catch up.
Our nation sees the necessity as any nation to call certain men in the armed forces. That deprives them of opportunities they would have had. They would have gone on uninterrupted with their education and other things. They go away and stay years. Maybe if a war is out, they have to go right through that. They suffered and sacrificed, so the nation gets the GI bill of rights. This is sort of a compensatory special treatment, and this man can come home and can maybe start a business with appropriations by the government that the people who didn't go can't get. Maybe he can build a home with a loan from the government that other people can't get. He can go to college with appropriations from the government that other people can't get. Because he was deprived of something from the society, it owned him something.
I think this is all we're saying that we have been deprived of something as a people and we have been crippled because of this. We feel that America ought to give us a crutch until we can come to the point of walking on our own rights. Many are going to walk. They're trying everyday, but the conditions facing them are so difficult that it's almost impossible. So, I would answer the question by saying, not putting anybody out of work is the answer, but that the government should certainly go out of the way to give some sort of compensatory crash program in order for the Negro to catch up, we need a sort of domestic Marshall Plan in order to bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life and this is all we're saying. [APPLAUSE]
Miller: Dr. King, question: Charges have been made that you wrecked the chances of agreement in Birmingham, and in Albany, Georgia for the sake of publicity. Would you comment?
King: Well, I don't ever know how to answer these charges that you wreck things for publicity. These jails are pretty uncomfortable in the south. I would much rather get publicity in another matter if publicity is the end and the goal. But, very seriously, we are dead‐serious about the struggle in the south and the determination to be free. I never move without any desire to get publicity as an individual, and I never do it through my organization. We do it because we feel, as I said in my talk, that action is necessary in order to solve this problem.
The minute you act and take a stand against an unjust system, the individuals in the privileged group are going to resist to the end and they are going to say many nasty things about you. They're going to say you're doing it for publicity, but we can't stop for that reason. We've got to go on to redeem the soul of our nation. The only way that we can do this is to go out to solve this problem. I think Birmingham is a better place in which to live today. It is far from where it ought to be. The problem is far from solved, but I think it is a better city and a better situation for Negroes because we had this struggle, because we went on and said that these things must be done. I can say the same thing for Albany, Georgia. There wasn't any wreckage in an agreement, but there has been an absolute achievement of desegregating facilities in both of these communities.
Miller: Dr. King there are more questions here than I am sure we're going to be able to get through, but I'm just picking them out here after professor Clark and professor Lawson took them over here. Do you think it is the older generation of the south that is standing up so ardently against integration as opposed to the younger generation who actually may be pro‐integration but are so strongly influenced by the older folks they can do nothing?
King: I think there is a great deal of truth in this. I think that many of the young, white people of the south are much more open minded on this issue and would solve this problem if many of the elders would move aside. Many of these people have been so conditioned to the old order and to these prejudices that they will probably never change and they try to instill them in their children. I think there is hope in the situation because there are young people‐‐I would say a growing group of young people‐‐willing to see the moral issues involved in this struggle and who are willing to take a stand. We don't have enough and we don't have many who are willing to take public stands, but certainly their private opinions lean more toward compliance with the law of the land and accepting the inevitable and they are coming to see futility of massive resistance to desegregation.
Miller: Next question: Dr. King, you claim you're not a communist, then why do you associate yourself with such organizations as the National Guardians which has been declared subversive by the state of California and is listed in the guide to subversive organizations and publications published by the United States government?
King: I'm very sorry I can't answer that. I've never heard of the organization of National Guardian. I regret that I can't answer the question. In all seriousness, I may be connected with an organization that I don't know anything about, but this is news to me because I am very scrutinizing in organizations that I'm connected with and this is my first knowledge of the National Guardian organization.
Miller: Don't you feel that integration can only be started and realized in the Christian church, not in schools or by other means? This would be a means of seeing just who are true Christians.
King: As a preacher, I would certainly have to agree with this. I must admit that I have gone through those moments when I was greatly disappointed with the church and what it has done in this period of social change. We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. Now, I'm sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn't have many of the problems that we have. The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body. Now, I'm not saying that society must sit down and wait on a spiritual and moribund church as we've so often seen. I think it should have started in the church, but since it didn't start in the church, our society needed to move on. The church, itself, will stand under the judgement of God. Now that the mistake of the past has been made, I think that the opportunity of the future is to really go out and to transform American society, and where else is there a better place than in the institution that should serve as the moral guardian of the community. The institution that should preach brotherhood and make it a reality within its own body.
Miller: You say that the Negro is economically deprived because of segregation, then why is it that the Jewish citizens of America who have also been segregated, yet they have become a part of our higher economic class?
King: I think we have to say two thing here. I must make it very clear in the beginning that I'm against discrimination and segregation whether it's toward a Negro, or Mexican or a Jew or Catholic or wherever it is. I think injustice toward any people is a threat to justice for all people. I'm against discrimination. The Jews have certainly confronted discrimination in this country. I don't think anybody can deny that, but nobody can deny on the other hand that there has been a different type of discrimination and segregation faced by the Jews in this country. The fact is that the Negro can never escape his high visibility. He is the victim of a caste system, it's not only a class system, it's a caste system. He is born into this thing and because of this high visibility. If he were a Jewish person and wanted to change his name, he could do that maybe and escape some of the problems of America. The Jew has not faced the same type of segregation. In America, I think we must be honest enough to say that while our Jewish brothers were slaves thousands of years ago, the Jew was never slave in the United States. The Negro had 244 years, as I said earlier, of outright slavery while he worked without wages, and this threw him behind in everything. The Negro is just human enough to be affected by these things so it has been a color problem and the high visibility, that the Negro cannot escape, that haunts him at all times. Until there is a removal of the prejudices that keep these things alive, we still have the problem before us.
Miller: You talk of soul force and love as ways of social freedom and justice. You also speak of legislation as a means for this justice. But just what kind of active and definite action, can I, the sole black, or I the sole white do on a scale large to make any difference? Are demonstrations the only outward means?
King: No, I would say that there are many other ways that we can work to solve this problem. I tried to mention some. I mentioned the legislative approach in seeking to bring about strong civil‐rights legislation. The fact is at this point, we face not only a recalcitrant south, with its southern dixiecrats, we face a recalcitrant north with the hypocrisy of some right‐wing Republicans. The cause of justice has been betrayed by this coalition of southern dixiecrats and right‐wing northern Republicans. They've gotten together and defeated every serious movement and civil rights legislation. I think that one who is really concerned about this and wants to see the problem solved will bring about the kind of work in his community that will bring about pressure on a congressman in Michigan who will refuse to sign a discharge petition under some strange notion. Then, of course, there are other ways like working through the courts. I have certainly supported this because we have gained many very powerful decisions that have helped us to move on in the struggle. There's also a need to have voter registration drives in communities all across the nation so that more Negroes will register to vote. I think this will do a great deal to liberalize the political conscience. All of these things can be used and I don't think it's an "either or" approach. I think it's a "both and." It is both demonstrations and these other approaches that are so very important. I think that all of them working together and supplementing each other, we do have a more powerful thrust.
Miller: Do you believe that de facto segregation in our large city schools should be changed by transporting children into schools which could be some distance from their homes? Might not the tremendous cost be better applied to remove the causes of de facto segregation?
King: I lean toward the view that it is a very tragic thing for young people, children, to grow up association, communication only people of their race. Prejudices develop from the very beginning because of this. Narrow provincial views emerge because of this. I think the only way to break this kind of provincialism is to bring people together on a level of genuine intergroup and interpersonal living. I do not think we can afford to wait until all of the problems of residential segregation are solved before we grapple the problem of segregation in educational institutions. Therefore, I lean toward the idea that segregation must be removed from schools all over this country, even if it means transporting students from one district to another. For I do not think that residential segregation must be used as an excuse for the perpetuation of segregation in educational institutions. A court in New York rendered a decision in this line. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on it. I certainly agree that New York court that residential segregation should not prevent the constant moving on toward ending segregation in educational institutions in the public school system, even if it means transporting students from one district to another. I think I would have to agree this.
Miller: There are a number of questions in the group here asking Dr. King to comment on the Black Muslim movement. I have turned to Dr. Clark and said that I thought you had answered this when you said that you weren't for black domination or white domination, but if you care to comment any further, since there are a number of questions.
King: I'll make the very brief point about this movement. First, this movement has not yet appealed to many Negroes in this country. This movement has appealed to a small number when you think of the fact that you have some 20 million Negroes in the United States and the best estimates would say that you have only about 75,000 Negroes that have actually joined all of the black nationalist groups put together, the largest being the Muslim movement. It has not yet appealed to vast majority of Negroes, and frankly, I don't think it will because of its doctrine of racial separation rather than racial integration. On the other hand, I think we must see that this movement did not come into being out of thin air. It is symptomatic of the deeper unrest and discontent of Negroes all over this country. I think it is a challenge, for people of good will, both Negro and white, to work bold determination to get rid of the conditions that brought this movement into being. As long as you have the conditions alive, movements like this will be springing up. The more the conditions are removed, the more the influence of such movements will diminish. I reiterate finally that from a philosophical point of view and basic moral point of view, I would certainly disagree the philosophy of this movement because I do feel that racial separation is bad for everybody. I do feel that racial integration is good for everybody. I do feel that a doctrine of black supremacy is an injurious to a society as a doctrine of white supremacy.
Miller: I am interested and hopeful that civil justice will be voted favorably in congress. In order to do so, it will require almost 100 percent of the votes of the representatives in the northern, midwestern, and western states. Why, therefore, do advocates of your program go into peace‐loving communities and in their remarks state that our demands will be met or there will be violence?
King: Well there are times that you must try to analyze the social situation. Of course, I hate to talk about violence and its possibilities because I have found so often, and this is true in the south to a great degree, that those who talk loudest about violence and predict violence are really engaged in an unconscious invitation to violence. We've seen this on the part of politicians predicting violence and they were really inviting violence so I hate to talk about violence and the possibility of violence if such isn't done. But there are moments when you must be honest enough to say that your commitment to nonviolence and your preaching of nonviolence will fall on deaf ears if something isn't done. I've had to say that in Birmingham, Alabama and other places, that something needs to be done to give the Negro a new sense of hope. If not, all of my pleas, and I will continue, but all of my pleas of nonviolence may fall on deaf ears. Now this is just analyzing a possibility and not at all saying that this should be. I think there should be a civil rights bill. I think that everybody should work for it, and I think that we must face that fact that if there isn't a civil rights bill, it will set us back in race relations in the United States and we will have a real social disruption. Honestly impels us to admit this and I don't think we help the situation by not coming out facing the facts of life.
Miller: Dr. King has a plane at just a few minutes after 10:00, therefore, I think this will have to be the last question. What change in the pace of integration will there be, if any, because of President's Kennedy's death and assassination?
King: Fortunately, President Kennedy had the courage to be a friend of civil rights. Not that he always did everything that we wanted him to do on civil rights. But everybody would have to admit that President Kennedy did more, or stood up, I would say, more firmly on civil rights legislation than any president. This was very good for the nation, and I think we will see that more and more in the future. Now, I don't think there will be any blockage, so to speak, in the process. To put it another way, I don't think the pace will slow up because of President Kennedy's tragic assassination. I think Mr. Johnson, his successor, will stand up for civil rights legislation in general and civil rights in particular. He has made that very clear, publicly, and made it clear in the first speech that he made to the nation. He has made it clear to me just a few days ago in a private conversation. He made it clear to all of the heads of civil rights organizations. I don't think there's any doubt abut it that President Johnson plans to stand up for civil rights legislation and he plans to see this bill through, all of the resources he had at his disposal.
I think it points, and this is the final thing that I'd like to say, it points that sometimes a man does more in his death than he could have ever done in life. Sometimes we must in history take an evil situation and wring the good out of it. It may well be that President Kennedy will be able to do more for civil rights in death than he could have ever done in life. For the south, with all of its resistance, has to face the fact now that the man who is fighting to bring about civil rights legislation is one its own native sons. They can no longer argue that he doesn't understand. If they'll listen to his accent and his wife's accent, they know he's from the south. So it may well be that something transforming may happen in this situation. Of course, the other thing is that the Negro is determined more than ever before. I think he will continue to press on so that the pace will not stop. There will be an increased move toward full citizenship for the Negro in America. [APPLAUSE]
Miller: So you understand that we must leave now because of the plane schedule. Again, we thank Martin Luther King, Junior, for his presentation and for his forthright answers in this question period. Thank you, sir.