File #3506: "ms113.0008_transcript.pdf"


Ford Hall Forum: Transcript of MLK Forum
Moakley Archive and Institute

Title: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 speech, "The Future of Desegregation,"
delivered at the Ford Hall Forum.
Recording Date: March 24, 1963
Speakers: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Item Information: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 speech at the Ford Hall Forum,
"The Future of Desegregation," at the Ford Hall Forum. Ford Hall Forum Collection, 1908-2013
(MS113.3.1, item 0008) Moakley Archive, Suffolk University, Boston, MA.
Digital Versions: audio recording and transcript available at
Copyright Information: Copyright © 1963 Ford Hall Forum.
Recording Summary:
Three weeks before he was jailed for leading peaceful protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr.
King addressed the Ford Hall Forum in Boston on March 24 1963. His address, "The Future of
Desegregation," coincided with the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. King
called for renewed Federal efforts at desegregation, while noting that "the law cannot change the
heart, but it can restrain the heartless." The forum was rebroadcast as part of the New American
Gazette program and includes an introduction by Barbara Jordan.

MS113.0008 Transcript

Transcript Begins
ANNOUCER: From Boston, the Ford Hall Forum presents the New American Gazette with
your host Barbara Jordan.

BARBARA JORDAN: This week the New American Gazette honors the birthday of Reverend
Martin Luther King with a rebroadcast of Dr. King’s address to the Ford Hall Forum in Boston
on March 24, 1963. Dr. King’s topic that day, “Desegregation and the Future,” reminds us of the
segregated world of 1963. It was a world in which blacks and whites couldn’t site at the same
lunch counters, use the same facilities, or ride side-by side in the front of the bus. 1963 was a
time that Dr. King called the “Border of the Promised Land of Desegregation.” On the centennial
of the Emancipation Proclamation, Dr. King called for a second Emancipation Proclamation to
end discrimination in housing and employment. Three weeks following this address, Dr. King
would be jailed in Birmingham, Alabama for leading a march protesting city-wide segregation in
stores and restaurants. Other peaceful Birmingham protesters met with police attack dogs and
firehoses which the nation witnessed on national television. Preaching reconciliation as the
highest goal of non-violence and a Christian love ethic, Dr. King’s message of non-violence was
repeated three months later in his most famous address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Following the March on Washington, President Kennedy delivered a civil rights bill to Congress
outlawing segregation in all interstate public buildings, taking steps to initiate school integration,
and continuing a provision ensuring the right to vote. One year later in 1964, President Lyndon
Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Reminding the Ford Hall Forum audience that segregation
is a form of slavery, Dr. King conducts a broad sweep of race relations through these periods of
American history, then sets an agenda for social and economic justice for legislators, civil rights
leaders, and all Americans to undertake. How close have we come to eliminate the social,
economic, and employment injustices that Dr. King vividly brought to mind? Recalling Martin
Luther King’s vision of desegregation and the future, it’s time to ask, what has become of that
vision of justice and equality?

MS113.0008 Transcript
REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: As we look over the broad sweep of race
relations in the United States, we notice three distinct periods. The second period represents
growth and progress over the first period and the third period represents growth and
progress over the second period. And it is interesting to notice that, in each period, there
finally came a decision from the Supreme Court of our nation to give legal and
constitutional validity for the dominant thought patterns of that particular period.

The first period was an era of slavery. This period had its beginning in 1690 when the first
Negro slaves landed on the shores of this nation. And it extended through 1862 when
Abraham Lincoln signed the immortal document known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
And throughout the period of 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. And finally in 1857, toward the end of that period, the supreme
court of the nation rendered a decision known as the Dred Scott decision which gave legal
and constitution validity to the whole system of slavery. This decision said, in substance, that
the Negro is not a citizen of the United States. 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

The second period had its beginning in 1863 and extended to 1954. We may refer to this as
the period of restricted emancipation. Now, in a real sense, it was an improvement over the
first period because it at least freed the Negro from the bondage of physical slavery. But it
was not at all the best period because it did not accept the Negro as a person. And, therefore,
it was very easy for the ethos of segregation to emerge as the dominate practice and theory
of this particular period. And in 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a
decision known as the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which established the doctrine of
"separate but equal" as the law of the land. And it was this decision that gave legal and
constitutional validity to the dominant thought patterns of the second period in race relations.
But we all know what happened as a result of this period. There was always a strict
enforcement of the separate, without the slightest intention to abide by the equal. The Negro

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ended up being plunged into the abyss of exploitation where he experienced the bleakness of
nagging injustice. So something had to happen to bring about another period.

Things began to happen in the nation and in the world. And the rolling tide of world opinion
had its influence. The industrialization of the South and the concomitant urbanization had its
influence. And then something happened to the Negro. Living with slavery for many years,
many Negroes came to feel that perhaps they were inferior and perhaps they were less than
human. But then something happened to cause the Negro to reevaluate himself.
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. And so his rural
plantations background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. And even his economic
life was rising through the growth of industry, the development of organized labor, expanded
educational opportunities. 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. Negro masses all over began to reevaluate themselves. And the Negro came
to feel that he was somebody. 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 fundamentum, not the texture of his hair, or the color of his skin, but his eternal
dignity and worth. And so with this a new Negro came into being with a new sense of
dignity and a new sense of self respect, and a new determination to struggle, to sacrifice in
order to be free. And with all these forces working together we saw the second period
gradually pass away.

And so today we see emerging the third period in race relations. We may refer to this as the
period of Constructive Desegregation. It had its beginning in 1954, on May 1st when the
Supreme Court rendered a decision which gave legal and constitutional validity to the
dominant thought patterns of this particular period. That decision said, in substance, that the
old Plessy doctrine must go, that separate facilities are inherently unequal, that to segregate a
child on the basis of his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law. As a result of
this decision, we have seen many developments, and we have seen many changes. To put it
figuratively in Biblical language, we have broken loose from the Egypt of slavery and we

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have moved through the wilderness of segregation, and now we stand on the border of the
promised land of desegregation. And this is where we are at this particular moment in the
period of desegregation: seeking to move ahead finally toward a truly integrated society.

The great challenge facing America at this hour is to work passionately and unrelentingly to
bring the ideals and principles of this third period into full realization. Certainly we don't
have long to do it. And I know there are those people who are constantly saying to those in
the civil rights struggle "Slow up for a while. You're pushing things too fast. Cool off." They
are saying "adopt a policy of moderation." Well, if moderation means moving on towards
the goal of justice with wise restraint and calm reasonableness, then moderation is a great
virtue which all men of good will must seek to achieve during this tense period of transition.
But if moderation means slowing up in the move for freedom and capitulating to the
undemocratic practices of the guardians of a deadening status quo, then moderation is a
tragic vice, which all men of good will must condemn. We can't afford to slow up. We have
our self-respect to maintain, but more than that, we love democracy too much, and we love
the American way of life too much, to slow up.

As you know there are approximately 3 billion people living in our world and the vast
majority of these people live in Asia and in Africa. For years they were dominated
politically, exploited economically, segregated and humiliated by some foreign power. But
today they are gaining independence. Millions and millions and millions of the former
colonial subjects are gaining independence. Can remember when we first went to Africa
back in 1957. We were happy about the fact that now independence was starting south of the
Sahara; now there were eight independent countries in Africa. But since that times more than
25 new independent countries have come into being in just a few years. Twenty-five or thirty
years ago there were only three independent countries in Africa. So Prime Minister
MacMillan was right when he said, "the wind of change was blowing in Africa." It is
blowing all over the world. As these former colonial subjects gain their independence, their
leaders are saying in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go. They are
making it clear that they would not respect any nation that will subject its citizenry on the

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basis of race or color. And so in a real sense, the hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking
out and we must act now before it is too late.

And I almost hasten to say that this isn't the only reason that we must seek to solve this
problem in America. We must not seek to solve the racial problem merely to appeal to Asian
and African peoples. We must not seek to solve this problem to meet the Communist
challenge as important as that happens to be. But, in the final analysis, racial discrimination
must be uprooted from American society because it is morally wrong. In the final analysis
of this problem must be solved because racial discrimination stands against all the noble
precepts of our Judo-Christian heritage. Segregation is wrong because it substitutes an "I-it"
relationship for the "I-Thou" relationship, and relegates persons to the status of things. And
so we must seek to solve this problem not merely because it is diplomatically expedient, but
because it is morally compelling. This is the great challenge of the hour.

Now what must we do and what must be done in the future to make desegregation a reality,
and then to move on toward a truly integrated society? And I say that because that is the
difference between desegregation and integration: desegregation is eliminative and,
therefore, has negative aspects. Segregation is prohibitive in that it prohibits individuals
from using certain facilities. Legal barriers stand before them. Desegregation eliminates
these barriers. Integration is creative in that it deals with attitudes; it is mutual acceptance. It
is genuine interpersonal and inter-group relations. So that while desegregation is a necessary
step that we must think of and deal with, we must always remember that the ultimate goal is
a truly integrated society. Now what must be done if this is to be a reality?

First, I would like the mention the need for forthright leadership from the federal
government. The government must use all of its constitutional authority to enforce the law
and to make justice a reality. And we must honestly confess that this has not always been
done. If we look back over the last ten years, we can see that the only consistent forthright
leadership has come from the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial or
rather the legislative and executive branches have not always been forthright, have not
always been determined, and certainly have not always been consistent. But if this problem

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is to be solved, there must be a concerted effort on the part of all the branches of the federal
government. It must rise above the timid stage. It must rise above the compromising stage,
and move on toward that stage of making great moral decisions, which will certainly change
our nation in this period of transition.

Now if the government is to do its job, it must get rid of two myths that tend to get around
and are circulated all around the nation. One is what I often refer to as the "myth of time."
Now there are those who argue that the federal government cannot do anything about this
problem because only time can solve the problem. They go on to say that if we would just
be patient and nice and pray, a hundred or two hundred years from now the problem will
work itself out. Well, the only answer that we can give to the myth of time, to those who
believe in this myth,is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or
destructively, and at points I think the people of ill will have used time much more
effectively than the people of good will. And it may well be that we will have to repent in
this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the
appalling silence of the good people. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress
never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and
persistent work of the dedicated individuals, who are willing to be co-workers with God.
And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of primitive forces of social
stagnation and irrational emotionalism. And so it is necessary to see that we must help time
and to realize that the time is always right to do right.

The other myth that is often circulated and gets back to the government is that idea that
legislation can't solve the problem of racial injustice. We have heard this idea that morality
cannot be legislated, that this problem must be solved by changing attitudes. So this must be
done through education and it must be done through religion. Legislation can do nothing
about it. Well, there is an element of truth in this. Certainly education and religion will have
a great role to play in changing attitudes. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated,
but 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 can't make a man love me, but it can keep
him from lynching me and I think that's pretty important also. In other words—(applause)—

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and so this is what we must see, that it will take education and religion to change bad internal
attitudes, but we need legislation to control the external effects of those bad internal attitudes.
And so that is the need for strong civil rights legislation now, in this session of congress.

And it is significant that a few days ago, President Kennedy went on record for the first time
since he has been in office calling for civil rights legislation, mainly in the area of voter
registration. And I think if the proposals set forth are accepted and passed by Congress,
many of the problems that we now face in the South in seeking to get Negroes registered
and voting will be solved. And there is a great deal here that will change the political
structure of the South and liberalize the political climate, and so there is a great deal that
must be done through legislation. There is a need for executive orders to continue.
Fortunately President Kennedy has signed two executive orders. One in employment­
making it clear that there is not to be any discrimination in employment where government
contracts are involved and in federal agencies. Another executive order in the realm of
housing; this is a good beginning. Certainly this executive order is not strong enough. It
could be much more forthright and it could deal with the enormity of the problem in a much
more depthful manner, but at least it is a start. And this is why I have urged that President
Kennedy to sign what I have called "the Second Emancipation Proclamation." For I think the
time has come for such an order to be issued.

A hundred years ago Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which freed
the Negro from the bondage of physical slavery. But one hundred years later the Negro is
still in slavery. The Negro still isn't free, North or South. And it is not too much to ask one
hundred years after the first Emancipation Proclamation for a Second Emancipation
Proclamation to make freedom a reality. For in a real sense segregation is a form of slavery
covered up with certain niceties of complexity. And I believe that such an executive order
would go a long, long way to set forth a sound national policy. And it would be a great
beacon light of hope to millions of disinherited people all over this nation, and all over the
world, so the federal government has a great role to play.

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I would like to mention the need for forthright leadership from the moderates of the white
South. And I would not give you the impression tonight that there are not white persons of
good will in the South. I would leave you with the idea and the fact that there are hundreds
and thousands and, I believe, millions of white people of good will in the South. But they are
silent today, and they have been silent for years because they are afraid: afraid of social,
political, and economic reprisals. God grant that something will happen, so that these persons
will rise up and take over the leadership in this tense period of transition and somehow open
channels of communication. For I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear
each other. They fear each other because they don't know each other. And they don't know
each other because they fail to communicate with each other. And they fail to communicate
with each other because they are separated from each other.

And one of the great tragedies of our time, one of the great tragedies of the South, is that in
all too many situations we are still seeking to live in monologue rather than dialogue. There
is a need for the white persons of good will to stand up in the South. We look back over the
last few months and think about the ugly and tragic things that took place in Oxford,
Mississippi, and that continue to take place in that state. One thing that we will always have
to face and remember is that Governor Barnett was able to do what he did because of the
breakdown in the power structure. And that he felt that he had the approval of the political,
the economic, and the ecclesiastical power structure. Nobody really took a stand against his
irresponsible action. Now, certainly somebody in Mississippi disagreed with that: somebody
in Mississippi disagreed with the methods and the actions and the words of Governor
Barnett. But they failed to stand up. And so there is a great need if this problem is to be
solved for forthright action and courageous action and commitment on the part of the
moderate and the white South.

Let me also mention the need for a forthright leadership and commitment on the part of
white persons of good will in the North. This is all important, for this problem is not a
sectional problem. No area of our country can boast of clean hands in the area of
brotherhood, and the estrangement of the races in the North can be as devastating as the
segregation of the races in the South. For deception can be much more frustrating that

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outright rejection; somehow indifference can be much more embittering than outright
hostility. And this is what it is necessary for everyone in the North to see. It is one thing for a
white person of good will in the North to rise up with righteous indignation when a bus is
burned in Aniston, Alabama with freedom riders or when a church is burned in Sassa,
Georgia where Negroes are seeking to learn how to register and vote, or when a courageous
James Meredith confronts a howling and jeering mob when he seeks to go to the University
of Mississippi. But it is just as necessary and important for white persons of good will in the
North to rise up with righteous indignation when a Negro cannot live in their community or
their neighborhood because of certain restrictions and agreements, or when a Negro cannot
get a job in their firm, or when a Negro cannot join a particular professional society,
academic society, or fraternity or sorority. In other words, there must be an inner
commitment on the part of the people all over this nation.

Now in the North, the twin evils of housing and employment discrimination stand out as
they do all over this country. These must be grappled with in a very significant and
determined manner. Unemployment is growing every day, and the Negro is the greatest
victim. He constitutes ten percent of the population, but 44% of the unemployed. And the
problem is being augmented even more today because of the force known as automation.
The Negro has been limited to unskilled and semi-skilled labor because of discrimination,
denied apprenticeship training. And now these are the jobs which are passing away. Now,
something must be done in order to grapple with this problem and make employment
opportunities equal and real for all people. For the Negro is still the last hired and first fired
all over the United States. And he is still at the bottom of the economic ladder. Forty-two
percent of the Negro families in America earn less than $2,000 a year, while just 17% of the
white families earn less $2,000 a year. Twenty percent of the Negro families in America
earn less than $1,000 a year, while less than five percent of the white families earn less than
$1,000 a year. Eighty-eight percent of the Negro families of America still earn less than
$5,000 a year, while just 58% of the white families earn less than $5,000 a year.

Now this problem of economic injustice must be solved if America is to be a great nation.
For you can see the problems here. If one does not have economic security·, he cannot

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adequately educate his children, he cannot have adequate housing conditions, he cannot
have adequate health conditions. And it is very easy for one to cry out that the Negro is a
criminal or that his standards are lagging. If there are lagging standards in the Negro
community, they lag because of segregation and discrimination. Poverty, ignorance,
economic deprivation, [and] social isolation 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. It is necessary to go to the source, to go to the root of the problem, and so
there is need for work all over the nation to deal with the problem of employment
discrimination and the problem of housing discrimination. For as long as there is residential
discrimination, there will be segregation in the public schools, segregation in recreational
facilities, segregation in hospitals, [and] segregation in churches. And this is why de facto
segregation in the North can be as crippling as de jure segregation in the South. And this
must be seen and met with vigor and determination.

I would also like to mention the need for leadership from organized religion. And I must say,
and honestly admit, that in this area the church has not done its job. It is one of the shameful
facts that we must face that in the midst of injustices all around, the church has too often
stood silently by, mouthing pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of
the tragic injustices of our days, the church has too often remained silently behind the safe
security of stained glass windows and so often Christians have had a high-blood pressure of
creeds and anemia of deeds. And for this reason eleven o'clock on Sunday morning, when
millions of people stand over this nation to sing In Christ There is No East or West, we find
ourselves in the most segregated hour of America. This is tragic indeed. And the most
segregated school of the week is the Sunday school.

Now if something isn't done about that, the church will lose its redemptive power, and
certainly its power to serve as a moral guardian of the community. If it is to have a relevant
voice, and to stand up creatively with power and spiritual strength during these days, it must
take a stand on this issue. It is good that some have become conscious of this, and I am
encouraged because more and more church bodies are taking a stand, even in the most

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difficult communities of the South. They are all too few, but they are growing, and I'm
convinced as they continue to grow the transition from a segregated to desegregated society
and finally an integrated one will be much, much smoother. And the church will be not
merely a taillight, but it will be a headlight, leading men and women on in this day and in
this age.

But after saying all of this, I must say that if this problem is to be solved—if we are to have
truly desegregated society, if we are to break down the barriers—the Negro himself must
stand up with courage and determination and a willingness to sacrifice and even suffer. He
must not stand idly by waiting for somebody else to do something for him. But he must
work for his own freedom, in this day and at this time. And there are many areas in which
we must work. Certainly we must continue to work for meaningful legislation, as I
mentioned a few minutes ago. We must continue to work through the courts; many things
have been done through the courts. I mentioned the Supreme Court's decision of 1954, and
this was a decision handed down by the highest court of the land. Many things have been
done through the Supreme Court and through federal district courts, and through Federal
Courts of Appeal. And so we must continue to work through the courts to clarify the law.
This is very important. We must continue to work to double the number of Negro registered
voters, North and South. For as I said earlier I am convinced that, if we can increase the
number of Negro registered voters, we will be able to liberalize the political climate of the
South. There are still approximately 10 million, more than 10 million, Negroes in the South.
Out of this number, almost 6 million are eligible to vote at least they are of voting age. Yet
only about a million, 500 thousand are registered to vote. You can see that is a big job ahead.
And wherever Negroes are voting in large numbers, you do see a different climate in race

I think of my own city of Atlanta, Georgia, and we have worked there a long, long time
seeking to get Negroes registered to vote. And now the Negro vote is a force in Atlanta with
almost 50,000 registered to vote. This means that no mayor can be elected in Atlanta without
the Negro vote. This means that no alderman can be elected in Atlanta without the Negro
vote, and it really makes a difference. I remember when the present mayor, a man of good

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will I'm convinced, was running for governor several years ago. He was a segregationist, he
talked about the eternality of segregation. But then when he started running for mayor, he
started talking about integration. And somebody asked him one day: why did he change? He
said, "Well, I have seen the light now." Well 50,000 votes will make anybody see the light.

Last year, I remember very vividly some of the students from Atlanta University and
Morehouse College and Spellman and Clark and the other schools in Atlanta went down to
attend a legislative session at the statehouse there. And they went in and went into the
balcony where the spectators were seated and they were almost kicked out and threatened
with arrest if they didn't get out immediately. But I'm happy to report to you tonight that not
only are Negroes able to sit in the balcony now at the statehouse, just a year later. But now a
Negro is sitting on the main floor helping to make the laws for a state of Georgia.

Now this is because of the ballot and this will be done more and more if this job of
increasing, of doubling the number of registered voters is undertaken with zeal and courage.

Then there is a need for the Negro to use his buying power to achieve a sense of dignity.
And I am not speaking of something negative now, I'm speaking of something positive. I'm
not speaking of a negative thrust to put somebody out of business, but a positive thrust to
put justice in business. And I think the time has come for the Negro to say to industries and
businesses all over this country, "If you respect my dollar, you must respect my person."
The buying power of the Negro is now more than $20,000,000,000 a year, which is more
than all the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. It's
still far from what it should be, but at least it reveals that it is a force and it is large enough
to make the difference between profit and loss in almost any business. And we know that
there are industries and businesses all over the country practicing glaring and notorious
discrimination against Negroes in employment. And so that is a need for selective buying
programs. We have started in several cities already, and pretty soon we will be calling a
national conference to launch a nation-wide selective buying program. The procedure would

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certainly be to begin with negotiations, starting out negotiating with an industry, urging
them to change their policies and employ Negroes in more than the manual areas or the
unskilled areas. And, then, if there is a refusal, there would be no alternative but to inform
people all over this country-Negroes and white peoples of good will­ that this particular
business, that this particular industry, discriminates against Negroes in employment. And I
think this can be a great force for good bringing about a sort of moral balance within our

But after we do all of this—(applause)—we must supplement what is being done with nonviolent direct action. And I'd like to take just a few minutes to say something about this
method of non-violent direct action since it has been the method that is being, and has been,
used over the South-and over the country for that matter-over the last few months and for
the last few years. For I am convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available
to impress people in the struggle for freedom and human dignity. Now first, this method 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 and he just doesn't know how to handle it. If he
doesn't beat you, wonderful. If he beats you, you develop the courage of accepting blows
without retaliating. If he doesn't put you in jail, wonderful. Nobody with any sense loves to
go to jail. But if he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of
shame to a haven of human freedom and dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop
the quiet courage of dying if necessary without killing. And there is something about this
that the opponent just can't grasp; he doesn't know how to deal with it.

Another thing about this method is that it gives the individual a means of working to secure
moral ends through moral means. One of the great debates of history has been over the
question if ends and means. There have been those who have argued that the ends justify the
means. And this is where non-violence breaks with the philosophy that argues this, and in a
system that contends that destructive means will bring constructive ends because, in the long
run, the end is pre-existent in the means. The means represent the ideal in the making and
the end in process. And so it is wonderful to have a method that makes it possible for the
individual to struggle to secure moral ends through moral means. And then another thing

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about this approach is that it makes it possible for the individual to struggle against an unjust
system and yet maintain an attitude of active good will towards the perpetrators of that
unjust system. One centers his vision on getting rid of the evil system, and not getting rid of
the person. In other words, it becomes possible to hate segregation, and yet love the

Now when I talk about love at this point, I'm not talking about emotional bosh. I'm not talking
about some sentimental or affectionate response. Certainly, it is nonsense to urge oppressed
people to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. I'm talking about something much
deeper than that, I'm talking about that force that is the supreme uniting force of life, that
force which is willing to go the second mile in order to restore the broken community, that
force which is willing to forgive seventy times seven in order to restore the broken
community, that force which somehow says that within everyman there is something of
goodness in a potential sense, and it can somehow be actualized. And this is what we
attempt to do, for we have come to see that hate is a dangerous force, hate is as injurious to
the hater as it is to the hated. The psychiatrists are telling us now that many of the strange
things that happen in the subconscious, many of the inner­ conflicts are rooted in hate, and
so they are saying, love or perish. Eric Fromm can say in a book like The Art of Loving that
love is the most vital force in life and there can be no personality integration without it. And
this is what I'm speaking of and this is what I'm thinking about, and I think it can be a force
in this struggle to make justice and freedom a reality. And so, in some way, as I've said so
many times before, this is what we are able to say to our most bitter opponents "We will
match 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 as
must a 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, as difficult as it is, we will still
love you. Send your propaganda agents around the nation and make it appear that we are not
fir morally, culturally, or otherwise for integration and 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 it is, we will

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still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and we
will continue to resist the evil system. And one day we will win our victory, but we will not
only win victory 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. And this method is not
at all without successful precedent. It was used by a little brown man in India by the name of
Mohandas K. Gandhi to free his people from the political domination and the economic
exploitation inflicted upon them for years. He struggled only with the weapons of soul force,
non-injury, moral courage, and love. It has been used in a marvelous manner by hundreds
and thousands of students all over our nation. They have taken our deep groans and
passionate yearnings for freedom and filtered them in their own souls and fashioned them
into a creative protest which is an epic known all over this nation. And for all of these
months they have moved in a uniquely meaningful orbit, imparting light and heat to distance
satellites, and as a result of their non-violent, disciplined yet courageous efforts, they have
been able to bring about integration at lunch counters in almost two hundred cities in the
South as a result of the freedom rides. Segregation is almost dead in the South and almost
dead in every community that we can point to.

And so this is a powerful method. And I believe by using all of these forces and by all these
forces working together, we will be able to bring into being that new day when we have not
only a desegregated society, but also an integrated society. And if we will struggle with
nonviolence, resist with nonviolence, we will go into the new age with a proper attitude
realizing that our aim must never be to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of
advantage thus averting justice. We will not seek to substitute one tyranny for another. But
something will remind us that black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and that
God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men,
but that God in interested in the freedom of the whole human race.

This is a challenge. Great opportunities stand before America at this hour. To paraphrase the
words of John Oxenham, "To every nation there openeth a way and ways and a way. The
high nation climbs the high way, and the low nation gropes the low, and in between, on the
misty flats, the rest drift to and fro. But to every nation, there openeth a high and a low way.

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Every nation decideth which way its soul shall go." And God grant that we here in America
will chose a high way, a way in which men will be able to live together as brothers, a way in
which every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality, a way in which
the words of Amos will become real: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness
like a mighty stream," a way in which we will live out the true meaning of the Declaration of
Independence "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And, if we will follow this way, we will be able to
transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. We
may take courage and we may gain consolation from the fact that we have made strides, that
we have solved some of the problems, we have done some things in spite of the fact that
there is still much to be done. We do have that consolation behind, that we have done
something. And so I close by quoting the words of an old Negro slave preacher, who didn't
quite have his grammar right and his diction, but uttered words of symbolic profundity. His
words—worded in the form of a prayer—"Lord, we ain't what we ought to be, we ain't what
we want to be, we ain't what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain't what we was."

MODERATOR: Dr. King would you be willing to comment on the Muslim movement and
the extent of its power?

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Well, first let me say that while I disagree
with the philosophy of this movement, it is necessary to realize that it didn't come into being
out of thin air. It is here because certain conditions brought it into being. It is symptomatic
of the deeper unrest, of frustration, the discontent of many Negroes in America. And the
conditions of discrimination in their varied forms brought this movement into being; these
are the things that the Muslims thrive on. And it is just as important to work to get rid of the
conditions that brought this movement into being than it is to condemn the philosophy. It
may well be the fact that a movement like this is alive in 1963 in America is an indictment
on America and Christianity and democracy itself. And it means that we've got to become
more democratic and more committed to the principles of our religious heritage. Now as far
as the influence, the power of this movement, I would say that up to this point this movement

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has not appealed to the vast majority of Negroes. The best estimate would place the number
of members around 75,000. I think the FBI says about 75,000. Dr. Eric Lincoln in a recent
book on the movement says about 100,000 or a few more. But it is still a small number when
you think about the fact that there are approximately 20 million Negroes in the United
States. And I'm sure that it is true that the vast majority of Negroes have not, at this time,
come to the point of accepting this idea. I think there are many, many more than a hundred
thousand who would agree with their criticism of America society, and I do say that it is a
challenge to everybody to work harder to get rid of the problem because they are going to be
here as long as we have the problem. Groups like this will exist. It doesn't get off the ground
in communities where progress is being made in race relations; it does in communities
where you see retrogress and a great deal of frustration and the constant development of the
ghetto. So it means that it is necessary to work together to get rid of the conditions that
brought it into being as well as condemn the philosophy.

ANNOUNCER: You’ve been listening to a special edition of the New American Gazette. The
Revered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was recorded at the FHF in Boston on March 24th 1963. The
New American Gazette was produced by The New American Gazette was produced for the Ford
Hall Forum by Deborah Stavro. Post-production engineer is Brian Sabo.
Major funding for the New American Gazette is provided by Digital Equipment Corporation.
Additional funding is provided by League of Women Voter’s Education Fund, a non-partisan
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If you'd like a cassette of this program, send a check for $12 to the Ford Hall Forum, 271
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Join us again for the New American Gazette.

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