Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The following is, for me, a convicting statement by MLK about the "white moderate." It's from his Letter from Birmingham Jail as found in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
First, I must confess that over the last 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 the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er 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 can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season."
Another excerpt, this one about the role of time in social change. It's from Dr. King's last Sunday morning sermon, delivered March 31, 1968.
The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public sector and the private sector to work to get rid of racism. And now if we are to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation. One is the myth of time. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And there are those who often sincerely say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, "Why don't you slow up? Stop pushing things so fast. Only time can solve the problem. And if you will just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out." There is an answer to that myth. It is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I am sorry to say this morning that I am absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the extreme rightists of our nation - the people on the wrong side - have used time much more effectively than the forces of good will.
hat tip: Soulforce

3 comments:

TweetyJill said...

In these times, these statements apply very apty to the "straight moderate" too. Hmmm...

Joe Moderate said...

Absolutely. I think that's probably why Soulforce chose these among their quotes for MLK day.

Joe Moderate said...

However, I think they are still true of race issues today, only there are a hell of a lot more "white moderates" when it comes to race today than in MLK's lifetime.

It was only two weeks ago that I found myself on the receiving end of some racial statements coming from one of the maintenance guys that works for my landlord...