2021 Life Logs, Day 18: Words of MLK
Date: Monday, January 18, 2021
Weather: Partly Sunny and Windy; High 44, Low 27 Degrees
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the March On Washington in 1963 still rings in our ears. The vision of an America where freedom rings. But in his later years, as was pointed out by Joy Reid on MSNBC tonight, King “painted a much less rosy picture of America, a country that then, as now, was driven by what King called the triple evils of racism, militarism, and the neglect of the poor. So much so, that King’s words are as relevant today as when he spoke at the National Conference for New Politics in Chicago in 1967.” I could not find the text of that speech, but I attempted to transcribe what I heard on The ReidOut tonight. Here is my transcription of part of that speech. Chilling.

“The white backlash of today is rooted in the same problem that has characterized America ever since the black man landed in chains on the shores of this nation. This does not imply that all white Americans are racists. Far from it. Many white people have, through a deep moral compulsion, fought long and hard for racial justice. Nor does it mean that America has made no progress in our attempt to cure the body politic of the disease of racism. Or that the goals of racism have not been considerably modified in recent years. However, for the good of America, it is necessary to refute the idea that the dominant ideology in our country, even today, is freedom and equality, while racism is just an occasional departure from the norm on the part of a few bigoted extremists. Racism can well be that corrosive evil that will bring down the curtain on western civilization . . . some 26 civilizations have risen upon the face of the earth. Almost all of them have descended into the junk heaps of destruction that decries that the fall of these civilizations, according to Gandhi, was not caused by external invasions, but by internal decay. They failed to respond creatively to the challenges impingent upon them. If America does not respond creatively to the challenge to banish racism, some future historian will have to say that a great civilization died because it lacked the soul and commitment to make justice a reality for all men.” MLK, 1967

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