I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men,
I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve
their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion
while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully
through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, "What
about Vietnam?" They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive
doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes
it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never
again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the
ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor
of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake
of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of
the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot
be silent."--MLK/"Beyond Vietnam" (1967).
cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued
this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: "Love
is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and
good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first
hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have
the last word." --MLK/"Beyond Vietnam" (1967).
all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest
and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we
are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying
-- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's
children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live."
--MLK/"I've Been to the Mountaintop" (1968).
||"A few years
ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there
was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through
the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings.
Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken
and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society
gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary
funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures
like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some
demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled
to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such."
--MLK/"Beyond Vietnam" (1967).
||"We must forever
conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical
violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of
meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy
which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust
of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced
by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny
is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound
to our freedom. We cannot walk alone." --MLK/"I Have A Dream"
I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a
successful journey possible - the known pilots and the unknown ground
So you honor the dedicated pilots of our
struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared
into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuli of South Africa,
whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the
most brutal expression of man's inhumanity to man. You honor the
ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to
freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will
never make the headline and their names will not appear in Who's
Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light
of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live - men
and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer
land, a better people, a more noble civilization - because these
humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness
sake." --MLK/Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964.
||"All we say
to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I
lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe
I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could
understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges,
because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere
I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom
of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read
that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And
so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn
us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We
are going on." - MLK/"I've Been to the Mountaintop"