On August 28, 2013, America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, D.C. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s landmark “I Have A Dream” speech. It was such a powerful piece of oratory that Jon Meachem, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and contributing editor to Time Magazine, wrote, “With a single phrase, Martin Luther King, Jr. joined Jefferson and Lincoln in the ranks of men who’ve shaped modern America.”
I believe America should be forever grateful for Dr. King, for he spared the country from what could only be described as a 20th Century civil war. There were many who felt the only way to deal with violence was with violence. After he was assassinated in 1968, there was no one of his stature or charisma to cool off the over-boiling anger that had built up over generations of brutal inhumanity, racism, and discrimination. If you were around during the late 1960’s and 1970’s, you know exactly what I’m talking about. America seemed to be burning everywhere.
In a 1966 interview with CBS News legend Mike Wallace, the two men discussed the pressures from others within the civil rights movement to abandon the tactic of nonviolence. Although Dr. King was immovable in his beliefs, his answer to Mr. Wallace showed he understood their impatience:
“I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”
This was a very insightful interview and Dr. King’s defense of peaceful civil disobedience as an invaluable tool in the struggle for equality. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, his words are no less important today than in 1966.
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Toward the end of this clip, Mr. Wallace asks Dr. King a question that’s been asked by so many and is still being asked today. In the question, he referred to Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R-NY).
“Even Sen. Jacob Javits asked the question recently. He said that he was a slum resident, but he and some of his fellow Jews were able to make it out of the ghetto on the lower East Side of New York. The same thing is true with lots of Irish, Italians, and he asked the question why the Negro finds it so difficult to make his own way up out of the ghetto?”
To me, it was quite ironic. I wondered whether the Senator’s words were taken out of context, considering he was a strong supporter of civil rights.
However, Dr. King gave Mr.Wallace quite an eloquent answer. Here’s the clip:
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