martin luther king
I Have A Dream Speech – August 28, 1963
address at march on washington:
– – –
letter from birmingham jail:
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. …. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
… Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. ..Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
and/or non-thinking – aka: most people are other people..
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
thinking of Sofia..
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?
All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.
[..]I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy.
[..]One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.[..]..the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;[..]
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. ….
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.[..]I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.[..]Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.[..]Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.[..]Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”[..]If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
– – –
Some wise words to help us put any “us vs them” nonsense in context:http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles…/Letter_Birmingham.html
It doesn’t matter if your “us” is white, Christian, Islamic, or skinny.
It doesn’t matter if your “them” is black, Trekkie, over 65, or balding.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– – –
fbi vs king:
– – –
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.
the art and discipline of non-violence – John Lewis:
13 min – we roll played – so that people could feel what could happen during civil disobedience..
the act of looking in the eye.. yes.. but i’m human
not natural.. you have to be taught the way of peace..
? – or perhaps it is natural.. but we have just become so toxic. so the need to uncover that. so the poignance of eye contact…
16 min – appeal to the goodness of every human being.. never give up on anyone..
John led march across bridge in Selma – bloody sunday. first to be beaten to unconsciousness
we’re supposed to be strong.. but love is strong..
non-violent revolution – love at its best
20 min – can we just be human.. and love
25 min – hate is too heavy a burden to bear
40 min – better to be a pilot light than a firecracker
always being able to pull back and see the long haul
have to believe – never ever give up on any possibility.. it already is.. you just have to make it real
45 min – the good is already there. the love is already there. how do you make it real?
47 min – you must do all that you can do while you occupy this space during your time
interview with director of selma – Ava Duvernay:
David Oyelowo has said that he doesn’t love that MLK has become a day, and that he was proud that the film made him back into a man.
Beautiful. We’ve said this quite a bit: He’s a holiday, he’s a stamp, he’s a street name in black neighborhoods, he’s an elementary school in some parts of the city, he’s a catch phrase: “I have a dream.” He’s been reduced to four words. People don’t even know his regular speaking voice, they only know his speech voice. They don’t know what he sounded like in normal conversations, or that he had four kids, or that he died at age 39, or that he had no intention of being an activist in this way. He was a regular preacher from Atlanta who got swept up in this movement when he moved to Alabama. So yeah, David said it exactly right. And that was our goal every single minute of every single day, with every single frame, every single line in the script: To try to portray him as an ordinary man who did great things. It was about adorning him with all of the beauty of that movement and not letting it just sit with him, which is another disservice to his legacy, and something that he would’ve hated.
Isn’t the negative side of social media unavoidable?
Twitter has this great thing called “blocking,” and I use it very often [laughs]. I don’t let that stuff get into my bloodstream. There are nasty, nasty things on there, but gosh, there are 100 times more bits of beauty, 100 times more bits of information, 100 times more bits of illumination. The random idiot doesn’t deter me from being able to get on and treat it as a news feed, or treat it as a conversation, or treat it as a platform to get my voice heard.
The question is, “Are you challenging them within yourselves?” That’s our job at every turn. It’s hard. It’s a constant struggle, but I see a lot of people doing it; I certainly try to do it. Sometimes we fail, and we do better the next time.
As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent. – MLK
‘We aren’t going to have peace..until we recognize this basic fact of interrelated structure of all reality.’ – mlk
Define American (@DefineAmerican) tweeted at 4:56 AM – 16 Jan 2017 :
#MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written in response to eight clergymen who condemned him in “A Call for Unity.” #MLKday https://t.co/2eLykHXeVt (http://twitter.com/DefineAmerican/status/820962831872892928?s=17)
Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) tweeted at 5:58 AM – 16 Jan 2017 :
MLK’s 1967 speech – where he called US “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” – is more relevant than ever https://t.co/ZVOCRsjJgz https://t.co/KKlrPFqaga (http://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/820978539549917184?s=17)