Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint
Monday, 20 January 2014
The official US beatification of Martin Luther King has come at the heavy price of silence about his radical espousal of economic justice and anticolonialism.
It is easy to forget that in his day, in his own country, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was considered a dangerous troublemaker. Even President John Kennedy worried that King was being influenced by Communists. King was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media. The establishment's campaign to denigrate King worked. In August 1966 - as King was bringing his civil rights campaign to Northern cities to address poverty, slums, housing segregation and bank lending discrimination - the Gallup Poll found that 63 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of King, compared with 33 percent who viewed him favorably.
Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. The most recent Gallup Poll discovered that 94 percent of Americans viewed him in a positive light. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. In 1964, at age 35, he was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King's name to justify their beliefs and actions.
In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power." He challenged America's class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers' strike. He opposed US militarism and imperialism, especially the country's misadventure in Vietnam.
In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it, King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice.
If he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would protest the abuses of Wall Street banks, standing side-by-side with homeowners facing foreclosure and crusading for tougher regulations against lending rip-offs. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education and health care. He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of comprehensive immigration reform. He would be joining hands with activists seeking to reduce racial profiling by police and ending the mass incarceration of young people. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today, King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, just as he challenged state laws banning interracial marriage.
Indeed, King's views evolved over time. He entered the public stage with some hesitation, reluctantly becoming the spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, at the age of 26. King began his activism in Montgomery as a crusader against racial segregation, but the struggle for civil rights radicalized him into a fighter for broader economic and social justice and peace. Still, in reviewing King's life, we can see that the seeds of his later radicalism were planted early.
King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1929, the son of a prominent black minister. Despite growing up in a solidly middle-class family, King saw the widespread human suffering caused by the Depression, particularly in the black community. In 1950, while in graduate school, he wrote an essay describing the "anticapitalistic feelings" he experienced as a youngster as a result of seeing unemployed people standing in breadlines.
During King's first year at Morehouse College, civil rights and labor activist A. Philip Randolph spoke on campus. Randolph predicted that the near future would witness a global struggle that would end white supremacy and capitalism. He urged the students to link up with "the people in the shacks and the hovels," who, although "poor in property," were "rich in spirit."
After graduating from Morehouse in 1948, King studied theology at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania (where he read both Mohandas Gandhi and Karl Marx), planning to follow in his father's footsteps and join the ministry. In 1955, he earned his doctorate from Boston University, where he studied the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, the influential liberal theologian. While in Boston, he told his girlfriend (and future wife), Coretta Scott, that "a society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people's needs is wrong."
When King moved to Montgomery to take his first pulpit at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he was full of ideas but had no practical experience in politics or activism. But history sneaked up on him. On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and veteran activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), decided to resist the city's segregation law by refusing to move to the back of the bus on her way home from work. She was arrested. Two other long-term activists - E. D. Nixon (leader of the NAACP and of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) and Jo Ann Robinson (a professor at the all-black Alabama State College and a leader of Montgomery's Women's Political Council) - determined that Parks' arrest was a ripe opportunity for a one-day boycott of the much-despised segregated bus system. Nixon and Robinson asked black ministers to use their Sunday sermons to spread the word. Some refused, but many others, including King, agreed.
The boycott was very effective. Most black residents stayed off the buses. Within days, the boycott leaders formed a new group, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). At Nixon's urging, they elected a hesitant King as president, in large part because he was new in town and not embroiled in the competition for congregants and visibility among black ministers. He was also well educated and already a brilliant orator, and thus would be a good public face for the protest movement. The ministers differed over whether to call off the boycott after one day but agreed to put the question up to a vote at a mass meeting.
That night, 7,000 blacks crowded into (and stood outside) the Holt Street Baptist Church. Inspired by King's words - "There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression" - they voted unanimously to continue the boycott. It lasted for 381 days and resulted in the desegregation of the city's buses. During that time, King honed his leadership skills, aided by advice from two veteran pacifist organizers, Bayard Rustin and Rev. Glenn Smiley, who had been sent to Montgomery by the pacifist group, Fellowship of Reconciliation. During the boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, and he was subjected to personal abuse. But - with the assistance of the new medium of television - he emerged as a national figure.
In 1957, King launched the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to help spread the civil rights crusade to other cities. He helped lead local campaigns in different cities, including Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, where thousands marched to demand an end to segregation in defiance of court injunctions forbidding any protests. While participating in these protests, King also sought to keep the fractious civil rights movement together, despite the rivalries among the NAACP, the Urban League, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and SCLC. Between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles, spoke more than 2,500 times, and was arrested at least 20 times, always preaching the gospel of nonviolence. King attended workshops at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, which connected him to a network of radicals, pacifists and union activists from around the country whose ideas helped widen his political horizons.
It is often forgotten that the August 1963 protest rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King was proud of the civil rights movement's success in winning the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act the following year. But he realized that neither law did much to provide better jobs or housing for the masses of black poor in either the urban cities or the rural South. "What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter," he asked, "if you can't afford to buy a hamburger?"
King had hoped that the bus boycott, sit-ins and other forms of civil disobedience would stir white southern moderates, led by his fellow clergy, to see the immorality of segregation and racism. His famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," written in 1963, outlines King's strategy of using nonviolent civil disobedience to force a response from the southern white establishment and to generate sympathy and support among white liberals and moderates. "The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation," he wrote, and added, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
King eventually realized that many white Americans had at least a psychological stake in perpetuating racism. He began to recognize that racial segregation was devised not only to oppress African Americans but also to keep working-class whites from challenging their own oppression by letting them feel superior to blacks. "The Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow," King said from the Capitol steps in Montgomery, following the 1965 march from Selma. "And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than a black man."
When King launched a civil rights campaign in Chicago in 1965, he was shocked by the hatred and violence expressed by working-class whites as he and his followers marched through the streets of segregated neighborhoods in Chicago and its suburbs. He saw that the problem in Chicago's ghetto was not legal segregation but "economic exploitation" - slum housing, overpriced food and low-wage jobs - "because someone profits from its existence."
These experiences led King to develop a more radical outlook. King supported President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty in 1964, but, like his friend and ally Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers, King thought that it did not go nearly far enough. As early as October 1964, he called for a "gigantic Marshall Plan" for the poor - black and white. Two months later, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian "democratic socialism." He began talking openly about the need to confront "class issues," which he described as "the gulf between the haves and the have-nots."
In 1966 King confided to his staff:
You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.
Given this view, King was dismayed when Malcolm X, SNCC's Stokely Carmichael, and others began advocating "black power," which he warned would alienate white allies and undermine a genuine interracial movement for economic justice.
King became increasingly committed to building bridges between the civil rights and labor movements. Invited to address the AFL-CIO's annual convention in 1961, King observed,
The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.
In a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, King proclaimed, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children." Speaking to a meeting of Teamsters union shop stewards in 1967, King said, "Negroes are not the only poor in the nation. There are nearly twice as many white poor as Negro, and therefore the struggle against poverty is not involved solely with color or racial discrimination but with elementary economic justice."
King's growing critique of capitalism coincided with his views about American imperialism. By 1965 he had turned against the Vietnam War, viewing it as an economic as well as a moral tragedy. But he was initially reluctant to speak out against the war. He understood that his fragile working alliance with LBJ would be undone if he challenged the president's leadership on the war. Although some of his close advisers tried to discourage him, he nevertheless made the break in April 1967, in a bold and prophetic speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, entitled "Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence." King called America the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and linked the struggle for social justice with the struggle against militarism. King argued that Vietnam was stealing precious resources from domestic programs and that the Vietnam War was "an enemy of the poor." In his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), King wrote, "The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."
In early 1968, King told journalist David Halberstam, "For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values."
King kept trying to build a broad movement for economic justice that went beyond civil rights. In January, 1968, he announced plans for a Poor People's Campaign, a series of protests to be led by an interracial coalition of poor people and their allies among the middle-class liberals, unions, religious organizations and other progressive groups, to pressure the White House and Congress to expand the War on Poverty. At King's request, socialist activist Michael Harrington (author of The Other America, which helped inspire Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to declare a war on poverty) drafted a Poor People's Manifesto that outlined the campaign's goals. In April, King was in Memphis, Tennessee, to help lend support to striking African American garbage workers and to gain recognition for their union. There, he was assassinated, at age 39, on April 4, a few months before the first protest action of the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, DC.
President Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge Congress to quickly enact the Fair Housing Act, legislation to ban racial discrimination in housing, which King had strongly supported for two years. He signed the bill a week after King's assassination.
The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor, spearheaded by Detroit Congressman John Conyers, began soon after his murder, but it did not come up for a vote in Congress until 1979, when it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. In 1981, with the help of singer Stevie Wonder and other celebrities, supporters collected six million signatures on a petition to Congress on behalf of a King holiday. Congress finally passed legislation enacting the holiday in 1983, 15 years after King's death. But even then, 90 members of the House (including then-Congressmen John McCain of Arizona and Richard Shelby of Alabama, both now in the Senate) voted against it. Senator Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, led an unsuccessful effort - supported by 21 other senators, including current Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) - to block its passage in the Senate.
The holiday was first observed on January 20, 1986. In 1987, Arizona governor Evan Mecham rescinded King Day as his first act in office, setting off a national boycott of the state. Some states (including New Hampshire, which called it "Civil Rights Day" from 1991 to 1999) insisted on calling the holiday by other names. In 2000, South Carolina became the last state to make King Day a paid holiday for all state employees.
In his final speech in Memphis the night before he was killed, King told the crowd about a bomb threat on his plane from Atlanta that morning, saying he knew that his life was constantly in danger because of his political activism.
"I would like to live a long life," he said. "Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."
We haven't gotten there yet. But Dr. King is still with us in spirit. The best way to honor his memory is to continue the struggle for human dignity, workers' rights, racial equality, peace and social justice.
This essay is adapted from the entry for Martin Luther King in Peter Dreier's book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).
Martin Luther King's Vision of Justice
By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post Writers Group | Op-Ed
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The Radical King
Series: King Legacy (Book 11)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (January 13, 2015)
by Martin Luther King Jr. (Author), Cornel West (Editor)
A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X
“The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies. . . . The response of the radical qKing to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution—a revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens. . . . Could it be that we know so little of the radical King because such courage defies our market-driven world?” —Cornel West, from the Introduction
Every year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is celebrated as one of the greatest orators in US history, an ambassador for nonviolence who became perhaps the most recognizable leader of the civil rights movement. But after more than forty years, few people appreciate how truly radical he was.
Arranged thematically in four parts, The Radical King includes twenty-three selections, curated and introduced by Dr. Cornel West, that illustrate King’s revolutionary vision, underscoring his identification with the poor, his unapologetic opposition to the Vietnam War, and his crusade against global imperialism. As West writes, “Although much of America did not know the radical King—and too few know today—the FBI and US government did. They called him ‘the most dangerous man in America.’ . . . This book unearths a radical King that we can no longer sanitize.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.: All Labor Has Dignity
Monday, 19 January 2015by Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his introduction to the newly published anthology of King speeches and writings, Cornel West writes, "This book unearths a radical King that we can no longer sanitize." West writes of a charismatic leader who was "anti-imperial, anti-colonial, anti-racist" and embodied "democratic socialist sentiments."
The following is Chapter 21 from The Radical King:
On February 12, 1968—President Lincoln's birthday—as Dr. King traveled from state to state, garnering rousing support for the Poor People's Campaign, more than a thousand sanitation workers in Memphis walked off the job. A month into the strike, on March 18, strikers and their supporters packed Bishop Charles Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ in what the Reverend James Lawson would describe as a "sardine atmosphere." With few notes, King addressed the overflowing church by connecting the localized strike to the plight of all workers, especially those in the service economy.
[The following speech was delivered by Dr. King in support of the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, just two weeks before he was assassinated in the same city.]
My dear friend James Lawson and to all of these dedicated and distinguished ministers of the gospel assembled here tonight, and to all of the sanitation workers and their families and to all of my brothers and sisters—I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be in Memphis tonight, and to see you here in such large and enthusiastic numbers.
As I came in tonight, I turned around and said to Ralph Abernathy, "They really have a great movement here in Memphis." You are demonstrating something here that needs to be demonstrated all over our country. You are demonstrating that we can stick together and you are demonstrating that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that if one black person suffers, if one black person is down, we are all down. I've always said that if we are to solve the tremendous problems that we face we are going to have to unite beyond the religious line, and I'm so happy to know that you have done that in this movement in a supportive role. We have Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, members of the Church of God in Christ, and members of the Church of Christ in God, we are all together, and all of the other denominations and religious bodies that I have not mentioned.
But there is another great need, and that is to unite beyond class lines. The Negro "haves" must join hands with the Negro "have-nots." And armed with compassionate traveler checks, they must journey into that other country of their brother's denial and hurt and exploitation. This is what you have done. You've revealed here that you recognize that the no D is as significant as the PhD, and the man who has been to no-house is as significant as the man who has been to Morehouse. And I just want to commend you.
It's been a long time since I've been in a situation like this and this lets me know that we are ready for action. So I come to commend you and I come also to say to you that in this struggle you have the absolute support, and that means financial support also, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
You are doing many things here in this struggle. You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight, that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth. One day our society must come to see this. One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician, for if he doesn't do his job, diseases are rampant. All labor has dignity.
But you are doing another thing. You are reminding, not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages. And I need not remind you that this is our plight as a people all over America. The vast majority of Negroes in our country are still perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. My friends, we are living as a people in a literal depression. Now you know when there is mass unemployment and underemployment in the black community they call it a social problem. When there is mass unemployment and underemployment in the white community they call it a depression. But we find ourselves living in a literal depression, all over this country as a people.
Now the problem is not only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day? And they are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen, and it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income. You are here tonight to demand that Memphis will do something about the conditions that our brothers face as they work day in and day out for the well-being of the total community. You are here to demand that Memphis will see the poor.
You know Jesus reminded us in a magnificent parable one day that a man went to hell because he didn't see the poor. His name was Dives. And there was a man by the name of Lazarus who came daily to his gate in need of the basic necessities of life, and Dives didn't do anything about it. And he ended up going to hell. There is nothing in that parable which says that Dives went to hell because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. It is true that one day a rich young ruler came to Him talking about eternal life, and He advised him to sell all, but in that instance Jesus was prescribing individual surgery, not setting forth a universal diagnosis.
If you will go on and read that parable in all of its dimensions and its symbolism you will remember that a conversation took place between heaven and hell. And on the other end of that long-distance call between heaven and hell was Abraham in heaven talking to Dives in hell. It wasn't a millionaire in hell talking with a poor man in heaven, it was a little millionaire in hell talking with a multimillionaire in heaven. Dives didn't go to hell because he was rich. His wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. Dives went to hell because he passed by Lazarus every day, but he never really saw him. Dives went to hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible. Dives went to hell because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. Dives went to hell because he maximized the minimum and minimized the maximum. Dives finally went to hell because he sought to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.
And I come by here to say that America, too, is going to hell if she doesn't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she, too, will go to hell. And I will hear America through her historians, years and generations to come, saying, "We built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. We built gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we are able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths."
It seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, "Even though you have done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not, I was naked and you clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security and you didn't provide it for them. And so you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness." This may well be the indictment on America. And that same voice says in Memphis to the mayor, to the power structure, "If you do it unto the least of these of my children you do it unto me."
Now you are doing something else here. You are highlighting the economic issue. You are going beyond purely civil rights to questions of human rights. That is a distinction.
We've fought the civil rights battle over the years. We've done many electrifying things. Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956, fifty thousand black men and women decided that it was ultimately more honorable to walk the streets in dignity than to ride segregated buses in humiliation. Fifty thousand strong, we substituted tired feet for tired souls. We walked the streets of that city for 381 days until the sagging walls of bus segregation were finally crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. In 1960, by the thousands in this city and practically every city across the South, students and even adults started sitting in at segregated lunch counters. As they sat there, they were not only sitting down, but they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and carrying the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy, which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
In 1961, we took a ride for freedom and brought an end to segregation in interstate travel. In 1963, we went to Birmingham, said, "We don't have a right, we don't have access to public accommodations." Bull Connor came with his dogs and he did use them. Bull Connor came with his fire hoses and he did use them. What he didn't realize was that the black people of Birmingham at that time had a fire that no water could put out. We stayed there and worked until we literally subpoenaed the conscience of a large segment of the nation, to appear before the judgment seat of morality on the whole question of civil rights. And then in 1965 we went to Selma. We said, "We don't have the right to vote." And we stayed there, we walked the highways of Alabama until the nation was aroused, and we finally got a voting rights bill.
Now all of these were great movements. They did a great deal to end legal segregation and guarantee the right to vote. With Selma and the voting rights bill one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know now that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee? What does it profit a man to be able to eat at the swankiest integrated restaurant when he doesn't earn enough money to take his wife out to dine? What does it profit one to have access to the hotels of our city and the motels of our highway when we don't earn enough money to take our family on a vacation? What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school when he doesn't earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?
And so we assemble here tonight, and you have assembled for more than thirty days now to say, "We are tired. We are tired of being at the bottom. We are tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. We are tired of our children having to attend overcrowded, inferior, quality-less schools. We are tired of having to live in dilapidated substandard housing conditions where we don't have wall-to-wall carpets but so often we end up with wall-to-wall rats and roaches. We are tired of smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. We are tired of walking the streets in search for jobs that do not exist. We are tired of working our hands off and laboring every day and not even making a wage adequate to get the basic necessities of life. We are tired of our men being emasculated so that our wives and our daughters have to go out and work in the white lady's kitchen, leaving us unable to be with our children and give them the time and the attention that they need. We are tired."
And so in Memphis we have begun. We are saying, "Now is the time." Get the word across to everybody in power in this time in this town that now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children. Now is the time for city hall to take a position for that which is just and honest. Now is the time for justice to roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. Now is the time.
Now let me say a word to those of you who are on strike. You have been out now for a number of days, but don't despair. Nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. The thing for you to do is stay together, and say to everybody in this community that you are going to stick it out to the end until every demand is met, and that you are gonna say, "We ain't gonna let nobody turn us around." Let it be known everywhere that along with wages and all of the other securities that you are struggling for, you are also struggling for the right to organize and be recognized.
We can all get more together than we can apart; we can get more organized together than we can apart. And this is the way we gain power. Power is the ability to achieve purpose, power is the ability to affect change, and we need power. What is power? Walter Reuther said once that "power is the ability of a labor union like UAW to make the most powerful corporation in the world—General Motors—say yes when it wants to say no." That's power. And I want you to stick it out so that you will be able to make Mayor Loeb and others say yes, even when they want to say no.
Now the other thing is that nothing is gained without pressure. Don't let anybody tell you to go back on the job and paternalistically say, "Now, you are my men and I'm going to do the right thing for you. Just come on back on the job." Don't go back on the job until the demands are met. Never forget that freedom is not something that is voluntarily given by the oppressor. It is something that must be demanded by the oppressed. Freedom is not some lavish dish that the power structure and the white forces in policy-making positions will voluntarily hand out on a silver platter while the Negro merely furnishes the appetite. If we are going to get equality, if we are going to get adequate wages, we are going to have to struggle for it.
Now you know what? You may have to escalate the struggle a bit. If they keep refusing, and they will not recognize the union, and will not agree for the check-off for the collection of dues, I tell you what you ought to do, and you are together here enough to do it: in a few days you ought to get together and just have a general work stoppage in the city of Memphis.
And you let that day come, and not a Negro in this city will go to any job downtown. When no Negro in domestic service will go to anybody's house or anybody's kitchen. When black students will not go to anybody's school and black teachers . . .
[After conferring with his aides, King returned to the microphone briefly to say he would return to Memphis to lead a mass march within a few days.]Delivered at the American Federation of State, County,
and Municipal Employees mass meeting, Bishop Charles
Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, Memphis,
Tennessee, March 18, 1968.
Excerpted from The Radical King by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited and Introduced by Dr. Cornel West (Beacon Press, 2015). Not to be reposted without permission from the publisher.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was among the twentieth century's most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in US history, King also authored several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, and Why We Can't Wait. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Martin Luther King's Vision of Justice
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Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968
In honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- visionary prophet, social activist, cultural critic, public intellectual, community organizer, radical political leader, and profound global advocate and defender of peace, freedom, justice, equality, and human rights--the following speeches by Dr. King are offered as a reminder of just how extraordinary his contributions were to 20th century history, the ongoing African American liberation struggle in all of its many complex dimensions, and the general mass movements for social, cultural, economic, and political revolution against all forms of racism, sexism, militarism, imperialism, and class domination in the United States and in the rest of the world.
This is also to remind us all that Dr. King was brutally assassinated 42 years ago today on April 4 1968. He was 39 years old.
This first speech was given April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. Entitled "Beyond Vietnam" this courageous and riveting antiwar statement infuriated President Johnson and incurred the fierce wrath and disapproval of not only the White House but the general public, the media, and even most civil rights organizations and leaders:
What follows is the full text of Dr. King's pivotal Vietnam speech from April 4, 1967:
Martin Luther King, Jr.
[Text version below transcribed directly from audio ]
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath --
America will be!
They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954 -- in 1945 rather -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China -- for whom the Vietnamese have no great love -- but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism (unquote).
Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.
Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality...and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.
January 26, 2015 Issue
A President and a King
By Jelani Cobb
In June of 2009, when an aura of idealism still attended Barack Obama’s Presidency, he delivered a speech at Cairo University that was intended to recalibrate American relations in the region. He had already offered a qualified overture in his Inaugural Address—“We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”—and the Cairo speech elucidated a vision of American soft power and democratic progress. Some listeners also noted a bit of historical jujitsu. In making a case for nonviolence in the region, the President remarked:
For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves, and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end.
Obama elided a few examples to make his argument: the more than six hundred thousand Civil War deaths in the United States; the well-documented though lesser-known history of armed black self-defense in the early twentieth century, which, in the eyes of many, served to make the nonviolent movement a palatable alternative; the armed resistance to apartheid that, for a time, counted even Nelson Mandela among its numbers. But fidelity to the historical record was not the key point.
There are more than six hundred and fifty streets named for Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States, but, perhaps more significant, there are streets, parks, and monuments dedicated to him in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia—a reminder that not only American authority but also American contradictions play out on the world stage. Cairo represented a moment in which the nation’s history of racism, long its most obvious moral contradiction and the so-called Achilles’ heel of American foreign policy, was, in the hands of a black President, an element to be used to America’s advantage. Obama’s mere existence was a brief for a kind of American exceptionalism. The credibility of his words derived less from the office he held than from his affiliation with the nonviolent movement that had made it possible for him to attain it.
From the moment Obama emerged as a serious Presidential contender, he has been viewed as a symbol of the successes of King and the movement that he led. Early in the campaign, when some African-Americans still harbored doubts about Obama’s identity, he travelled to Selma to mark the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march and to talk explicitly about the ways in which the movement had made it possible for the union between his black Kenyan father and his white American mother to exist legally. His nomination, at the Democratic Convention in August of 2008, coincided with the forty-fifth anniversary of King’s “Dream” speech. After the election, cartoonists deployed King in all manner of celebratory endorsement, and, after the Inauguration, Obama placed a bust of King in the Oval Office. This week, he will deliver his sixth State of the Union address, as he did his first inaugural, a day after the holiday that commemorates King.
Yet six years in the White House have vastly complicated Obama’s relationship to King. They are two of the three African-Americans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. (The first, Ralph Bunche, was awarded the prize in 1950, for negotiating a truce between Jews and Arabs in 1949.) When King accepted his award, in 1964, he began his speech by questioning his worthiness as a recipient, since the movement he led had not yet achieved interracial peace:
I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.
Obama opened his acceptance speech, in 2009, on a similarly self-effacing note, stating that he had barely begun his Presidency and his achievements were few. But then he departed from King’s reasoning. There is such a thing as just war, he said, under circumstances in which force is used in self-defense, is proportional to the threat, and, “whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.” He continued:
I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.
A moral crusader and a Commander-in-Chief grapple with different prerogatives. King was never tasked with national defense; Obama’s election was contingent on a belief that he could keep Americans safe. Some observers nevertheless find it difficult to square elements of Obama’s foreign policy—drone warfare and its civilian casualties—not only with King’s concept of civilization but with the President’s own criteria for just warfare. Cornel West railed against the decision to use King’s Bible at Obama’s second swearing-in. “The righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King,” he said, “becomes a moment in political calculation.” Still, the King who denounced the triple evils of militarism, racism, and materialism would likely hail this week’s address, in which the President is expected to touch upon normalizing relations with Cuba, immigration reform, and providing free education for students at community colleges—along with the Administration’s efforts to prevent voter suppression, the cause that animated the Selma campaign, fifty years ago.
Beneath all this lies the irony that, nearly six years after the Cairo speech, Obama is less able to deploy the moral capital of civil rights, at least in the Middle East, not only because he is now established as the face of American authority but also because many of the battles that King fought have still not been resolved. Racism remains an Achilles’ heel. The protests in Ferguson, New York, and beyond were watched by a global audience, and, as during the Cold War, America’s domestic troubles become fodder for a morally compromised foreign power to deflect attention from its own failings. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei took to Twitter to highlight the seeming contradiction that such actions were taking place under a black President. He tweeted, “Racial discrimination’s still a dilemma in US. Still ppl are unsecure for having dark skins. The way police treat them confirms it.” In spite of Obama’s debt to the civil-rights movement, the ideal of American exceptionalism is only as valid as the standing of people who have just as often been seen as exceptions to America. ♦
Jelani Cobb has been a contributor to The New Yorker and newyorker.com since 2013, writing frequently about race, politics, history, and culture.
APRIL 3, 1968:
"I Have Been to the Mountaintop”-- Full Speech
Excerpt from the end of his speech delivered in Memphis, Tenn. --April 3,1968—THE DAY BEFORE Dr. King’s assassination at the age of 39:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.-- "The Three Evils of Society"
An almost lost Dr. King speech, from the Pacifica Archives; this speech was given at the first and only National Conference for New Politics in 1967. It is an amazing speech which looks at American's three deadliest sins, War, Racism and Poverty
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Stanford - "The Other America” (1967):
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech at Stanford University on April 14, 1967. This speech is known as "The other America".
Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech:
Martin Luther King Jr. held his Nobel acceptance speech in the auditorium of the University of Oslo in Norway on 10 December 1964.
Copyright © Norsk Rikskringkasting AS 2012
Martin Luther King Jr., "The Drum Major Instinct" Sermon --- COMPLETE
"The Drum Major Instinct”
This was Dr. King’s last SERMON before being assassinated. Delivered to his congregation Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1968.
Not to be confused with his last SPEECH "I've Been to the Mountaintop" given two months later on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Beginning at 35:07 MLK begins to dictate his own prophetic eulogy... a prophetic eulogy that goes on and ends as the final note of his final sermon.
There's an edited 19 minute version of this speech floating around. This version cuts out three segments as well as the final sentence.
King's "Drum Major Instinct" sermon, given on 4 February 1968, was an adaptation of the 1952 homily ''Drum-Major Instincts'' by J. Wallace Hamilton. King encouraged his congregation to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love. King concluded the sermon by imagining his own funeral, downplaying his famous achievements and emphasizing his heart to do right.
Mahalia Jackson sings at April 9, 1968
Martin Luther King Funeral:
For Immediate Release
In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King
Can We Make It to the "Promised Land?"
King delivered his last speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop" on April 3, 1968 - Click here for audio
April 4th will be forty-six years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a balcony in Memphis. Black America and people of goodwill in the nation and the world were stricken by grief, frustration and anger at the murder of this great man of justice and peace. Indeed, rebellions erupted in urban centers across the nation by people who could not fathom how an apostle of non-violence could be struck down so viciously and violently. It was clear that America was at yet another cross-road in the quest to achieve racial, economic and social justice.
Despite constant death threats, Dr. King never flinched in his determination that this nation should be made to live up to its creed. The night before he was murdered, he reluctantly mounted the podium at the Mason Temple Church in Memphis to once again urge his multitude of followers to remain hopeful, faithful and encouraged. He seemed to have a premonition of his demise, and yet he stared death in the face and proclaimed that he was not afraid. In the most memorable part of his oration he took the audience to the "mountaintop" with him and declared that he had "seen the promised land." Sensing that his life would be cut short he said, "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."
As we reflect on King's courage and optimism in the shadow of death, the question is can we make it to the Promised Land. Clearly Dr. King was speaking to the long suffering sons and daughters of Africa in America when he referenced "we as a people," but given his fervent belief in the promise of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, there is little doubt that he also believed that one day America as a nation must arrive at the Promised Land. King also knew that for the "promise" to be realized Black people and people of good will in the "beloved community" would have to struggle to achieve its fulfillment. There would be trials and tribulations because there were forces deeply committed to restricting economic and political democracy to an elite "few" to the exclusion of the "many" in this society.
As King peered over into the Promised Land, he saw a nation which embraced his concept of an Economic Bill of Rights modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" where every human being would have a decent standard of living: a land where no-one would lack for a job with a living wage or guaranteed annual income, quality affordable housing, healthcare and education. But, to get to the Promised Land, King was preparing a Poor People's Campaign to galvanize the "many" to struggle for an Economic Bill of Rights even in the face of the fierce resistance of the "few" at the commanding heights of capital and finance.
To get to the Promised Land, King also warned that the people, those who aspired to create the change must themselves undergo a change, a personal "revolution" that would translate into creating a just and humane society. Hence he proclaimed, "I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
The people must create a "moral movement" to get to the Promised Land and that movement cannot countenance a system incompatible with "person-oriented" values. Therefore, those who would get to the Promised Land must challenge and change systems of oppression and exploitation; they must advance a politics of social transformation. As King put it, "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that the edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
As we witness the calculated, mean-spirited assault on Blacks, labor, women and poor and working people by rightwing extremists, the explosive growth in mass incarceration within the prison-jail industrial complex and the ever increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, we must continue to be inspired by King's view from the mountaintop. Black people in particular must be dedicated to leading ourselves and the downtrodden/dispossessed to the Promised Land.
The Moral Monday Movement led by Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP embodies the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of the Promised Land and the road we must trod to get there. If King could stare death in the face and still keep his eye on the prize, then we desecrate his memory and violate his spirit if we shrink in the face of the current roadblocks and obstacles to the Promised Land. Too many or our ancestors suffered, struggled, bled, triumphed and passed the baton for this generation to succumb to hopelessness, apathy and indifference in the midst of a State of Emergency in America's "dark ghettos" - and the extremists' immoral assault on poor and working people.
As we memorialize the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, let us remember him on the mountaintop, looking over into the Promised Land, knowing that he would not get there, but courageously exhorting and inspiring us to continue the arduous but ultimately rewarding journey toward full freedom. We may not get there in our lifetime but King's message from the mountaintop was/is a clarion call for a cross - generational struggle for "a more perfect union" and the creation of the Promised Land. Our people and the "beloved community," will overcome some day!
Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at email@example.com
MLK's "How Long, Not Long" Speech - Archival Footage:
Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) delivers his famous "How Long, Not Long" speech on the steps of the state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama .
Uploaded on Feb 3, 2011:
Amiri Baraka speaks to the importance of African-American history in this final event of the 2011 Community MLK Celebration. He reads from his works and takes questions from the audience gathered at Culbreth Theatre.
Published on Aug 27, 2013:
1963 "Meet the Press" interview with Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of the March on Washington's 50th anniversary next week.
King appeared on the news program three days before his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech at the Aug. 28, 1963, civil rights march.
"'Meet the Press' Special Edition: Remembering the Dream" will air Sunday on 10 NBC-owned stations and on New England Cable News and a number of NBC affiliates. Most stations will air it immediately before or after the regularly scheduled episode of "Meet the Press" (check local listings).
The half-hour interview with King and NAACP leader Roy Wilkins will air in full, a half-century to the day after its original showing. It will be available online afterward.
"Alabama" - The Power of Jazz:
On Sunday, September 15, 1963, twelve sticks of dynamite were placed in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb had been planted by the white supremacy group, the KKK, and killed four young black girls between the ages of 11-14.
John Coltrane wrote the composition ‘Alabama’ in response to this event and patterned his playing in the song after Martin Luther King’s speech at the funeral for the four girls.
Coltrane also performed in eight benefit concerts for King in 1964 and recorded several other songs inspired by the civil rights movement called, ‘Reverend King’, 'Backs Against the Wall’ and his album Cosmic Music dedicated to Martin Luther King. - See more at: http://www.jazzonthetube.com/…/black-history-…/alabama.html…
May 16, 2012
King’s Forgotten Manifesto
By DAVID W. BLIGHT and ALLISON SCHARFSTEIN
New York Times
ON May 17, 1962, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an extraordinary manifesto to the White House. Constructed as both a moral appeal and a legal brief, the 64-page document called on President John F. Kennedy to issue a “second Emancipation Proclamation,” an executive order outlawing segregation — just as President Abraham Lincoln had done with slavery a century earlier.
The civil rights era, like the Civil War, produced a wealth of great writing. But unlike King’s “I Have a Dream” speech or his “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” which we remember for their visionary rhetoric, this extraordinary document has been virtually forgotten.
And yet the manifesto is a wonderful example of King’s close reading of American politics, as well as his understanding of the role that moral leadership, in this case through an executive order, could have on the American public. It’s a lesson we should take to heart today, when a deadlocked Congress stands in contrast to a president willing to take a bold stand on same-sex marriage. Americans have rarely explicitly voted for equality; history, through institutions and a few courageous leaders, has enacted it.
During the 1960 presidential debates, Kennedy had suggested that he would address equality of opportunity by the “stroke of the president’s pen.” Yet when civil rights activists pressed him on this promise, his political ties to white Southern Democrats proved to be a formidable obstacle. Indeed, it was the hold of Southern segregationists on Congressional committee chairmanships that prompted civil rights leaders to put their hope in an executive order rather than legislation.
King infused his executive-order campaign with the gravitas of the centennial of the Civil War and emancipation. “What we need to do,” he told Clarence B. Jones, his trusted legal adviser, “is to get Kennedy to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation on the anniversary of the first one.”
On June 6, 1961, at a news conference in New York, King explicitly invoked the memory of the Civil War: “Just as Abraham Lincoln had the vision to see almost 100 years ago that this nation could not exist half-free, the present administration must have the insight to see that today the nation cannot exist half-segregated and half-free.”
Mr. Jones assembled a team of legal scholars to compose a proposal, while King publicized his idea in churches, in newspapers and in the White House itself. During an intimate tour with the president through the Lincoln Sitting Room in October 1961, King paused to ask Kennedy for a proclamation “outlawing segregation.” Kennedy said he would consider it, and asked King to submit a draft of the proposal.
Two months later, King sent Kennedy a personal telegram from the midst of his protest campaign in Albany, Ga., again urging the president to prepare a “second Emancipation Proclamation.” The New York Times and other papers covered this developing story, even debating the constitutionality of such an executive order outside of wartime.
King and his lawyers, who now included members of the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, scheduled the debut of the document for May 17, 1962, the eighth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
The preamble, most likely written by King himself, referenced numerous cultural precedents of American freedom, including Bruce Catton’s popular Civil War books, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” the Gettysburg Address, Frederick Douglass’s autobiography and Kennedy’s own “Strategy for Peace.”
Citing hundreds of legal precedents, especially Harry S. Truman’s military desegregation order in 1948, as well as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and, of course, the Emancipation Proclamation, the document demanded that the powers of the executive office be used to eliminate all forms of discrimination.
“The time has come, Mr. President,” it declared, “to let those dawn-like rays of freedom, first glimpsed in 1863, fill the heavens with the noonday sunlight of complete human dignity.”
Kennedy balked, however, at the opportunity to issue the second Emancipation Proclamation and noticeably avoided all centennial celebrations of emancipation. While he did issue an executive order banning discrimination in federal housing in November 1962, and introduced an omnibus civil rights bill a few months later, the demands of the second Emancipation Proclamation were not fulfilled until President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Though King’s manifesto failed to spur a second Emancipation Proclamation from the White House, it was an important and emphatic attempt to combat the structured forgetting of emancipation latent within Civil War memory.
As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war, the legacy of the second Emancipation Proclamation lives on in a million conversations about the lasting meaning of the Civil War.
It also lives in our political agony over narrowly partisan doctrines of states’ rights and individualism, and over whether we are still a “house divided,” half-free or half-equal: in the right to vote, to marry the person we choose, to be educated, to have health insurance, to imagine immigrants’ dreams — to assume we have a secure and fair place in the modern social contract, which Lincoln introduced with those words: “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
David W. Blight is the author of “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era” and a professor of history at Yale, from which Allison Scharfstein is graduating this month.
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
--Dr. Martin Luther King 1929-1968
(b. January 15, 1929-d. April 4, 1968)
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
The time is always right to do what is right.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.
Civil Rights Photographer Unmasked as Informer
By ROBBIE BROWN
September 13, 2010
New York Times
On Sunday, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis published the results of a two-year investigation that showed Mr. Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, had collaborated closely with two F.B.I. agents in the 1960s to keep tabs on the civil rights movement. It was an astonishing revelation about a former police officer nicknamed the Original Civil Rights Photographer, whose previous claim to fame had been the trust he engendered among high-ranking civil rights leaders, including Dr. King.
“It is an amazing betrayal,” said Athan Theoharis, a historian at Marquette University who has written books about the F.B.I. “It really speaks to the degree that the F.B.I. was able to engage individuals within the civil rights movement. This man was so well trusted.”
From at least 1968 to 1970, Mr. Withers, who was black, provided photographs, biographical information and scheduling details to two F.B.I. agents in the bureau’s Memphis domestic surveillance program, Howell Lowe and William H. Lawrence, according to numerous reports summarizing their meetings. The reports were obtained by the newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on its Web site.
A clerical error appears to have allowed for Mr. Withers’s identity to be divulged: In most cases in the reports, references to Mr. Withers and his informer number, ME 338-R, have been blacked out. But in several locations, the F.B.I. appears to have forgotten to hide them. The F.B.I. said Monday that it was not clear what had caused the lapse in privacy and was looking into the incident.
Civil rights leaders have responded to the revelation with a mixture of dismay, sadness and disbelief. “If this is true, then Ernie abused our friendship,” said the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., a retired minister who organized civil rights rallies throughout the South in the 1960s.
Others were more forgiving. “It’s not surprising,” said Andrew Young, a civil rights organizer who later became mayor of Atlanta. “We knew that everything we did was bugged, although we didn’t suspect Withers individually.”
Many details of Mr. Withers’s relationship with the F.B.I. remain unknown. The bureau keeps files on all informers, but has declined repeated requests to release Mr. Withers’s, which would presumably explain how much he was paid by the F.B.I., how he was recruited and how long he served as an informer.
At the time of his death, Mr. Withers had the largest catalog of any individual photographer covering the civil rights movement in the South, said Tony Decaneas, the owner of the Panopticon Gallery in Boston, the exclusive agent for Mr. Withers. His photographs have been collected in four books, and his family was planning to open a museum, named after him.
His work shows remarkable intimacy with and access to top civil rights leaders. Friends used to say he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. But while he was growing close to top civil rights leaders, Mr. Withers was also meeting regularly with the F.B.I. agents, disclosing details about plans for marches and political beliefs of the leaders, even personal information like the leaders’ car tag numbers.
David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who has written biographies of Dr. King, said many civil rights workers gave confidential interviews to the F.B.I. and C.I.A., and were automatically classified as “informants.” The difference, Mr. Garrow said, is the evidence that Mr. Withers was being paid.
Although Mr. Withers’s motivation is not known, Mr. Garrow said informers were rarely motivated by the financial compensation, which “wasn’t enough money to live on.” But Marc Perrusquia, who wrote the article for The Commercial Appeal, noted that Mr. Withers had eight children and might have struggled to support them.
The children of Mr. Withers did not respond to requests for comment. But one daughter, Rosalind Withers, told local news organizations that she did not find the report conclusive.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of this in my life,” Ms. Withers told The Commercial Appeal. “My father’s not here to defend himself. That is a very, very strong, strong accusation.”
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dr. Ernest Columbus Withers, Sr.
Born August 7, 1922
Died October 15, 2007 (aged 85)
Occupation Freelance photographer, Memphis Policeman
Notable work(s) Photographs of the segregated South in the 1940s-2000s, Negro league baseball, and the Memphis blues scene, Pictures Tell the Story by Ernest C. Withers, other books including Ernest C. Withers The Memphis Blues Again-Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs,and many Jet Magazine photographs and more.
Home town Memphis Tennessee
Dr. Ernest C. Withers (August 7, 1922 – October 15, 2007) was a freelance photographer famous for his black and white images of the segregated South and [Racial Integration] in the 1940s and 1960s, Negro league baseball, and the Memphis blues scene.
1.1 Early life
1.3 Personal life
1.5 FBI alleged informant
4 External links
Dr. Ernest C. Withers was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Arthur Withers and Pearl Withers of Marshall County, Mississippi; he had a Step-mother known as Mrs. Minnie Withers. Ba Ba [Father] Withers exhibited interest in photography from a young age. He took his first photograph in high school after his sister gave him a camera she received from a classmate. He met his wife Dorothy Curry of Brownsville, Tennessee[they remained married for 66 years]at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee. During World War II he received training at the Army School of Photography. After the war, Withers served as one of Memphis' first African-American police officers.
Dr. Withers' images captured America for nearly 60 years, preserving the good and the bad, in particular, racism. He traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his public life. His coverage of the Emmett Till murder trial brought national attention to the racial violence taking place during the 1950s in Mississippi, among other places. Dr. Withers appeared in a TV documentary about the murdered 14-year-old entitled The American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till.
Dr. Withers and his wife Dorothy had eight children together [seven boys and one girl]. He also had a second daughter from Memphis, Tennessee. All of his sons accompanied him as apprentice photographers at different points in his career. His business was called Ernest C. Withers and Sons Photography. Dr. Withers enjoyed traveling, visiting family members and entertaining guests at his home including Brock Peters, Jim Kelly, Ertha Kitt, Alex Haley, Ivan van Sertima, Stokley Carmichael [Kwame Toure], and many others in the entertainment world and black consciousness movement. He attended Gospel Temple Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He was also an all around [high school thru professional]sports enthusiast.
In 2007 Dr. Withers died from the complications of a stroke in his hometown of Memphis.
FBI alleged informant
In 2013, the FBI released documents that confirm that Dr. Withers served as a paid informant from 1958 to 1972. Federal Bureau of Investigation. He reported on the activity of several Civil Rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.. Dr. Withers sons Joshua Billy Withers and Andrew Jerome [Rome]Withers dispute this claim and are currently working to clear their father's name, and collect royalties from his work. In the September 2010 issue of the Tri-State Defender[Memphis, TN news publication] "Pictures Don't Lie" the two brothers begin to tell their side of the story. On December 29, 2014, by the request of Rome Withers, a facebook page [Ernest C. Withers Sr. Foundation] was created to help generate support for his family and to educate the public. CNN report feb 23, 2013
Worley, William (1998). Beale Street: Crossroads of America's Music. Addax Pub Group Inc. ISBN 1-886110-18-2.
Withers, Ernest (2000). Pictures Tell the Story : Ernest C. Withers Reflections in History. Chrysler Museum of Art. ISBN 0-940744-68-6.
Withers, Ernest (2001). The Memphis Blues Again: Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs. Studio. ISBN 0-670-03031-7.
Withers, Ernest (2005). Negro League Baseball. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-5585-7.
"Ernest Withers". The Times (London). 27 October 2007.
Peterson, Alison J. (17 October 2007). "Ernest Withers, Civil Rights Photographer, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
Perrusquia, Marc (12 September 2010). "Photographer Ernest Withers doubled as FBI informant to spy on civil rights movement". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
Brown, Robbie (13 September 2010). "Civil Rights Photographer Unmasked as Informer". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
Ernest C. Withers at Panopticon Gallery in Boston
Obituary in The Times, 27 October 2007
Bio-Sketch at Nathanielturner.com
Civil Rights Photographer Recast As FBI Informant - slideshow by NPRErnest C Withers Sr Foundation Facebook page
Martin Luther King's heirs milk a legacy: Our view
The Editorial Board,
January 18, 2015
As the nation celebrates the birthday of the man who more than anyone inspired the movement to give America's black citizens equal rights, you can find the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in commercialsfrom Alcatel, AT&T, Apple, Chevrolet and Mercedes. If you want to watch his stirring "I Have a Dream" address from the 1963 March on Washington, you can pay $20 to buy the DVD from an online shop under the control of his heirs.
While there are versions of one of the most renowned speeches in American history posted on YouTube, King's heirs generally limit the reach of their father's words and his image. They have deployed lawyers to sue those (including USA TODAY, CBS and the producers of a PBS documentary) who publish or broadcast his words without first paying a licensing fee. King's heirs even challenged singer Harry Belafonte — a close friend of King who helped support King's children after their father was assassinated in 1968 — to try to force him to give up documents Belafonte said he had been given.
OTHER VIEWS: 'What's best for Dad's legacy'
The family rarely comments on its aggressive marketing or its frequent litigation, but King's youngest son, Dexter, protested in his 2003 memoir that "people don't want us, as the heirs, the estate, to benefit ... or for my family to be in any way comfortable."
They should be more than comfortable. In 2006, the heirs sold King's papers for $32 million, prompting an estimate that they have made some $50 million from their father's legacy.
The cashing in continues. In 2007, the family demanded and got $761,000 to use King's words and likeness on the memorial to the civil rights leader on the National Mall. Most recently, the movie Selma, which documents King's role in pivotal civil rights marches in Alabama, had to invent much of King's dialogue because his actual words had been licensed to another film.
King left his family little when he died, and his heirs have every right to profit from their father's work. It was King himself who copyrighted the "Dream" speech and sued two companies that tried to release unauthorized recordings of it.
At some point, though, the family's attempts to obtain value crossed the line from reasonable to embarrassing. Perhaps most appalling was the children demanding to be paid when their father was honored with a statue on the Mall. It's hard to imagine the heirs of others so honored — George Washington, for example, or the soldiers who died in Korea and Vietnam — insisting on a fee. It is a tawdry shadow on the legacy of one of America's most remarkable leaders.
There may be no way to convince King's heirs that they're tarnishing their father's legacy. King's friends have tried.
Nor will the copyrights expire anytime soon. For unrelated reasons, Congress has extended the life of copyrights past rationality — currently to at least 70 years after an author's death. Barring a public-spirited buyout by someone with deep pockets and a better sense of the proper place for King's words, the family can hang on until at least 2039.
King's spirit will live on, but millions of people will be left deaf to his words — a sad footnote as the nation commemorates the great civil rights leader's birthday.
USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.
To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion e-mail newsletter.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS.jpg
Born Michael King, Jr.
January 15, 1929
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died April 4, 1968 (aged 39)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Monuments Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Occupation Clergyman, activist
Organization Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Movement African-American Civil Rights Movement, Peace movement
Denomination Baptist (Progressive National Baptist Convention)
Spouse(s) Coretta Scott King (m. 1953–1968)
Parents Martin Luther King, Sr.
Alberta Williams King
Awards Nobel Peace Prize (1964), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977, posthumous), Congressional Gold Medal (2004, posthumous)
Signature Martin Luther King Jr Signature2.svg
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.
He was born Michael King, but his father changed his name in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther. A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, in 1962, and organized nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama, that attracted national attention following television news coverage of the brutal police response. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.
On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In 1965, he and the SCLC helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches and the following year, he took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam".
In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. The jury of a 1999 civil trial found Loyd Jowers to be complicit in a conspiracy against King. The ruling has since been discredited and a sister of Jowers admitted that he had fabricated the story so he could make $300,000 from selling the story, and she in turn corroborated his story in order to get some money to pay her income tax.
King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor. In addition, a county was rededicated in his honor. A memorial statue on the National Mall was opened to the public in 2011.
1 Early life and education
1.1 Doctoral studies
2 Ideas, influences, and political stances
2.5 The lack of attention given to family planning
3 Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955
4 Southern Christian Leadership Conference
4.1 Albany movement
4.2 Birmingham campaign
4.3 St. Augustine, Florida
4.4 Selma, Alabama
4.5 New York City
5 March on Washington, 1963
6 Selma Voting Rights Movement and "Bloody Sunday", 1965
7 Chicago Open Housing Movement, 1966
8 Opposition to the Vietnam War
9 Poor People's Campaign, 1968
9.1 After King's death
10 Assassination and its aftermath
10.2 Allegations of conspiracy
11 FBI and King's personal life
11.1 FBI surveillance and wiretapping
11.2 NSA monitoring of King's communications
11.3 Allegations of communism
11.4 Allegations of adultery
11.5 Police observation during the assassination
12.1 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
12.2 Liturgical commemorations
13 Awards and recognition
13.1 Eponymous places and buildings
15 See also
16.4 Further reading
17 External links
Early life and education
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. His legal name at birth was Michael King. King's father was also born Michael King. The father changed his and his son's names following a 1934 trip to Germany to attend the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. It was during this time he chose to be called Martin Luther King in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther. King had Irish ancestry through his paternal great-grandfather.
Martin, Jr., was a middle child, between an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind. King liked singing and music. King's mother, an accomplished organist and choir leader, took him to various churches to sing. He received attention for singing "I Want to Be More and More Like Jesus." King later became a member of the junior choir in his church.
King said his father regularly whipped him until he was fifteen and a neighbor reported hearing the elder King telling his son "he would make something of him even if he had to beat him to death." King saw his father's proud and unafraid protests in relation to segregation, such as Martin, Sr. refusing to listen to a traffic policeman after being referred to as "boy" or stalking out of a store with his son when being told by a shoe clerk that they would have to move to the rear to be served.
When King was a child, he befriended a white boy whose father owned a business near his family's home. When the boys were 6, they attended different schools, with King attending a segregated school for African-Americans. King then lost his friend because the child's father no longer wanted them to play together.
King suffered from depression throughout much of his life. In his adolescent years, he initially felt some resentment against whites due to the "racial humiliation" that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South. At age 12, shortly after his maternal grandmother died, King blamed himself and jumped out of a second story window, but survived.
King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity's claims. At the age of thirteen, he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school. From this point, he stated, "doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly". However, he later concluded that the Bible has "many profound truths which one cannot escape" and decided to enter the seminary.
Growing up in Atlanta, King attended Booker T. Washington High School. He became known for his public speaking ability and was part of the school's debate team. King became the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper delivery station for the Atlanta Journal in 1942 at age 13. During his junior year, he won first prize in an oratorical contest sponsored by the Negro Elks Club in Dublin, Georgia. Returning home to Atlanta by bus, he and his teacher were ordered by the driver to stand so white passengers could sit down. King refused initially, but complied after his teacher informed him that he would be breaking the law if he did not go along with the order. He later characterized this incident as "the angriest I have ever been in my life". A precocious student, he skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grades of high school. It was during King's junior year that Morehouse College announced it would accept any high school juniors who could pass its entrance exam. At that time, most of the students had abandoned their studies to participate in World War II. Due to this, the school became desperate to fill in classrooms. At age 15, King passed the exam and entered Morehouse. The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, an eighteen-year old King made the choice to enter the ministry after he concluded the church offered the most assuring way to answer "an inner urge to serve humanity". King's "inner urge" had begun developing and he made peace with the Baptist Church, as he believed he would be a "rational" minister with sermons that were "a respectful force for ideas, even social protest."
In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a B.A. degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a B.Div. degree in 1951. King's father fully supported his decision to continue his education. King was joined in attending Crozer by Walter McCall, a former classmate at Morehouse. At Crozer, King was elected president of the student body. The African-American students of Crozer for the most part conducted their social activity on Edwards Street. King was endeared to the street due to a classmate having an aunt that prepared the two collard greens, which they both relished. King once called out a student for keeping beer in his room because of their shared responsibility as African-Americans to bear "the burdens of the Negro race." For a time, he was interested in Walter Rauschenbusch's "social gospel". In his third year there, he became romantically involved with the daughter of an immigrant German woman working as a cook in the cafeteria. The daughter had been involved with a professor prior to her relationship with King. King had plans of marrying her, but was advised not to by friends due to the reaction an interracial relationship would spark from both blacks and whites, as well as the chances of it destroying his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. King tearfully told a friend that he could not endure his mother's pain over the marriage and broke the relationship off around six months later. He would continue to have lingering feelings, with one friend being quoted as saying, "He never recovered."
King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama. They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice King. During their marriage, King limited Coretta's role in the civil rights movement and expected her to be a housewife.
See also: Martin Luther King, Jr. authorship issues
King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman". An academic inquiry concluded in October 1991 that portions of his dissertation had been plagiarized and he had acted improperly. However, "[d]espite its finding, the committee said that 'no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King's doctoral degree,' an action that the panel said would serve no purpose." The committee also found that the dissertation still "makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship." However, a letter is now attached to King's dissertation in the university library, noting that numerous passages were included without the appropriate quotations and citations of sources.
Ideas, influences, and political stances
King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old, in 1954. As a Christian minister, his main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he would almost always quote in his religious meetings, speeches at church, and in public discourses. King's faith was strongly based in Jesus' commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them. His non-violent thought was also based in the injuction to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52). In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus' "extremist" love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In another sermon, he stated:
"Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don't plan to run for any political office. I don't plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I'm doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man."
In his speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop", he stated that he just wanted to do God's will.
Veteran African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin served as King's main advisor and mentor in the late 1950s. Rustin came from the Christian pacifist tradition; he had also studied Gandhi's teachings and applied them with the Journey of Reconciliation campaign in the 1940s. King had initially known little about Gandhi and rarely used the term "nonviolence" during his early years of activism in the early 1950s. King also believed in and practiced self-defense, even obtaining guns in his household as a means of defense against possible attackers. Rustin guided King by showing him the alternative of nonviolent resistance, arguing that this would be a better means to accomplish his goals of civil rights than self-defense. Rustin counseled King to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's success with non-violent activism, King had "for a long time...wanted to take a trip to India". With assistance from the Quaker group the American Friends Service Committee, he was able to make the journey in April 1959. The trip to India affected King, deepening his understanding of non-violent resistance and his commitment to America's struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity".
Bayard Rustin's open homosexuality, support of democratic socialism, and his former ties to the Communist Party USA caused many white and African-American leaders to demand King distance himself from Rustin, which King agreed to do. However, King agreed that Rustin should be one of the main organizers of the 1963 March on Washington.
King's admiration of Gandhi's non-violence did not diminish in later years. He went so far as to hold up his example when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, hailing the "successful precedent" of using non-violence "in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire... He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury and courage."
Gandhi seemed to have influenced him with certain moral principles, though Gandhi himself had been influenced by The Kingdom of God Is Within You, a nonviolent classic written by Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy. In turn, both Gandhi and Martin Luther King had read Tolstoy, and King, Gandhi and Tolstoy had been strongly influenced by Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. King quoted Tolstoy's War and Peace in 1959.
Another influence for King's non-violent method was Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience, which King read in his student days. He was influenced by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system. He also was greatly influenced by the works of Protestant theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, as well as Walter Rauschenbusch's Christianity and the Social Crisis. King also sometimes used the concept of "agape" (brotherly Christian love). However, after 1960, he ceased employing it in his writings.
As the leader of the SCLC, King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: "I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either." In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, "I don't think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses ... And I'm not inextricably bound to either party."
King critiqued both parties' performance on promoting racial equality:
Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.
Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he was undecided as to whether he would vote for Adlai Stevenson or Dwight Eisenhower, but that "In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket." In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: "I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one." King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, saying "Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964." King supported the ideals of democratic socialism, although he was reluctant to speak directly of this support due to the anti-communist sentiment being projected throughout America at the time, and the association of socialism with communism. King believed that capitalism could not adequately provide the basic necessities of many American people, particularly the African American community.
King stated that black Americans, as well as other disadvantaged Americans, should be compensated for historical wrongs. In an interview conducted for Playboy in 1965, he said that granting black Americans only equality could not realistically close the economic gap between them and whites. King said that he did not seek a full restitution of wages lost to slavery, which he believed impossible, but proposed a government compensatory program of $50 billion over ten years to all disadvantaged groups.
He posited that "the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief rolls, rioting and other social evils". He presented this idea as an application of the common law regarding settlement of unpaid labor, but clarified that he felt that the money should not be spent exclusively on blacks. He stated, "It should benefit the disadvantaged of all races".
The lack of attention given to family planning
On being awarded the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Margaret Sanger Award on 5th May, 1966, King said:
Recently, the press has been filled with reports of sightings of flying saucers. While we need not give credence to these stories, they allow our imagination to speculate on how visitors from outer space would judge us. I am afraid they would be stupefied at our conduct. They would observe that for death planning we spend billions to create engines and strategies for war. They would also observe that we spend millions to prevent death by disease and other causes. Finally they would observe that we spend paltry sums for population planning, even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet. Our visitors from outer space could be forgiven if they reported home that our planet is inhabited by a race of insane men whose future is bleak and uncertain.
There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims. ...
Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955
In March 1955, a fifteen-year-old school girl in Montgomery, Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with Jim Crow laws, laws in the US South that enforced racial segregation. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case; because Colvin was pregnant and unmarried, E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to pursue.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, urged and planned by Nixon and led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King's house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King's role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
In 1957, King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Joseph Lowery, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The group was created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death.
On September 20, 1958, while signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom in Blumstein's department store in Harlem, King narrowly escaped death when Izola Curry, a mentally ill black woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. After emergency surgery, King was hospitalized for several weeks, while Curry was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. In 1959, he published a short book called The Measure of A Man, which contained his sermons "What is Man?" and "The Dimensions of a Complete Life". The sermons argued for man's need for God's love and criticized the racial injustices of Western civilization.
Harry Wachtel—who joined King's legal advisor Clarence B. Jones in defending four ministers of the SCLC in a libel suit over a newspaper advertisement (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan)—founded a tax-exempt fund to cover the expenses of the suit and to assist the nonviolent civil rights movement through a more effective means of fundraising. This organization was named the "Gandhi Society for Human Rights". King served as honorary president for the group. Displeased with the pace of President Kennedy's addressing the issue of segregation, King and the Gandhi Society produced a document in 1962 calling on the President to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to deliver a blow for Civil Rights as a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation - Kennedy did not execute the order.
The FBI, under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, began tapping King's telephone in the fall of 1963. Concerned that allegations of communists in the SCLC, if made public, would derail the administration's civil rights initiatives, Kennedy warned King to discontinue the suspect associations, and later felt compelled to issue the written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other SCLC leaders. J. Edgar Hoover feared Communists were trying to infiltrate the Civil Rights movement, but when no such evidence emerged, the bureau used the incidental details caught on tape over the next five years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position.
King believed that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that convinced the majority of Americans that the Civil Rights Movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.
King organized and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. The SCLC's 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom was the first time King addressed a national audience. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
King and the SCLC put into practice many of the principles of the Christian Left and applied the tactics of nonviolent protest with great success by strategically choosing the method of protest and the places in which protests were carried out. There were often dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities. Sometimes these confrontations turned violent.
Throughout his participation in the civil rights movement, King was criticized by many groups. This included opposition by more militant blacks such as Nation of Islam member Malcolm X. Stokely Carmichael was a separatist and disagreed with King's plea for racial integration because he considered it an insult to a uniquely African-American culture. Omali Yeshitela urged Africans to remember the history of violent European colonization and how power was not secured by Europeans through integration, but by violence and force.
Main article: Albany movement
The Albany Movement was a desegregation coalition formed in Albany, Georgia in November 1961. In December, King and the SCLC became involved. The movement mobilized thousands of citizens for a broad-front nonviolent attack on every aspect of segregation within the city and attracted nationwide attention. When King first visited on December 15, 1961, he "had planned to stay a day or so and return home after giving counsel." The following day he was swept up in a mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators, and he declined bail until the city made concessions. According to King, "that agreement was dishonored and violated by the city" after he left town.
King returned in July 1962, and was sentenced to forty-five days in jail or a $178 fine. He chose jail. Three days into his sentence, Police Chief Laurie Pritchett discreetly arranged for King's fine to be paid and ordered his release. "We had witnessed persons being kicked off lunch counter stools ... ejected from churches ... and thrown into jail ... But for the first time, we witnessed being kicked out of jail." It was later acknowledged by the King Center that prominent evangelical preacher Billy Graham, who claimed in his autobiography that he had developed a close friendship with King after he accepted an invitation to appear at his 1957 New York City crusade, was the one who bailed King out of jail during this time.
After nearly a year of intense activism with few tangible results, the movement began to deteriorate. King requested a halt to all demonstrations and a "Day of Penance" to promote non-violence and maintain the moral high ground. Divisions within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated efforts. Though the Albany effort proved a key lesson in tactics for Dr. King and the national civil rights movement, the national media was highly critical of King's role in the defeat, and the SCLC's lack of results contributed to a growing gulf between the organization and the more radical SNCC. After Albany, King sought to choose engagements for the SCLC in which he could control the circumstances, rather than entering into pre-existing situations.
Main article: Birmingham campaign
In April 1963, the SCLC began a campaign against racial segregation and economic injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign used nonviolent but intentionally confrontational tactics, developed in part by Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker. Black people in Birmingham, organizing with the SCLC, occupied public spaces with marches and sit-ins, openly violating laws that they considered unjust.
King's intent was to provoke mass arrests and "create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation". However, the campaign's early volunteers did not succeed in shutting down the city, or in drawing media attention to the police's actions. Over the concerns of an uncertain King, SCLC strategist James Bevel changed the course of the campaign by recruiting children and young adults to join in the demonstrations. Newsweek called this strategy a Children's Crusade.
During the protests, the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene "Bull" Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protesters, including children. Footage of the police response was broadcast on national television news and dominated the nation's attention, shocking many white Americans and consolidating black Americans behind the movement. Not all of the demonstrators were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of the SCLC. In some cases, bystanders attacked the police, who responded with force. King and the SCLC were criticized for putting children in harm's way. But the campaign was a success: Connor lost his job, the "Jim Crow" signs came down, and public places became more open to blacks. King's reputation improved immensely.
King was arrested and jailed early in the campaign—his 13th arrest out of 29. From his cell, he composed the now-famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" which responds to calls on the movement to pursue legal channels for social change. King argues that the crisis of racism is too urgent, and the current system too entrenched: "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." He points out that the Boston Tea Party, a celebrated act of rebellion in the American colonies, was illegal civil disobedience, and that, conversely, "everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was 'legal'". King also expresses his frustration with white moderates and clergymen too timid to oppose an unjust system:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor 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 cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistic-ally believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season".
St. Augustine, Florida
Main article: St. Augustine Movement
In March 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with Robert Hayling's then-controversial movement in St. Augustine, Florida. Hayling's group had been affiliated with the NAACP but was forced out of the organization for advocating armed self-defense alongside nonviolent tactics. Ironically, the pacifist SCLC accepted them. King and the SCLC worked to bring white Northern activists to St. Augustine, including a delegation of rabbis and the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, all of whom were arrested. During June, the movement marched nightly through the city, "often facing counter demonstrations by the Klan, and provoking violence that garnered national media attention." Hundreds of the marchers were arrested and jailed. During the course of this movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches
In December 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, where the SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months. A local judge issued an injunction that barred any gathering of 3 or more people affiliated with the SNCC, SCLC, DCVL, or any of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965.
New York City
On February 6, 1964, King delivered the inaugural speech of a lecture series initiated at the New School called "The American Race Crisis". No audio record of his speech has been found, but in August 2013, almost 50 years later, the school discovered an audiotape with 15 minutes of a question-and-answer session that followed King's address. In these remarks, King referred to a conversation he had recently had with Jawaharlal Nehru in which he compared the sad condition of many African Americans to that of India's untouchables.
March on Washington, 1963
Main article: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
King, representing the SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Wilkins from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Whitney Young, National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James L. Farmer, Jr. of the Congress of Racial Equality.
The primary logistical and strategic organizer was King's colleague Bayard Rustin. For King, this role was another which courted controversy, since he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march. Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation. However, the organizers were firm that the march would proceed. With the march going forward, the Kennedys decided it was important to work to ensure its success. President Kennedy was concerned the turnout would be less than 100,000. Therefore, he enlisted the aid of additional church leaders and the UAW union to help mobilize demonstrators for the cause.
The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the southern U.S. and an opportunity to place organizers' concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation's capital. Organizers intended to denounce the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights and physical safety of civil rights workers and blacks. However, the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and influence, and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone. As a result, some civil rights activists felt it presented an inaccurate, sanitized pageant of racial harmony; Malcolm X called it the "Farce on Washington", and the Nation of Islam forbade its members from attending the march.
The march did, however, make specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools; meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality; a $2 minimum wage for all workers; and self-government for Washington, D.C., then governed by congressional committee. Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. More than a quarter of a million people of diverse ethnicities attended the event, sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onto the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At the time, it was the largest gathering of protesters in Washington, D.C.'s history.
King delivered a 17-minute speech, later known as "I Have a Dream". In the speech's most famous passage—in which he departed from his prepared text, possibly at the prompting of Mahalia Jackson, who shouted behind him, "Tell them about the dream!"—King said:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
"I Have a Dream" came to be regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory. The March, and especially King's speech, helped put civil rights at the top of the agenda of reformers in the United States and facilitated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The original, typewritten copy of the speech, including Dr. King's handwritten notes on it, was discovered in 1984 to be in the hands of George Raveling, the first African-American basketball coach of the University of Iowa. In 1963, Raveling, then 26, was standing near the podium, and immediately after the oration, impulsively asked King if he could have his copy of the speech. He got it.
Selma Voting Rights Movement and "Bloody Sunday", 1965
Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches
Acting on James Bevel's call for a march from Selma to Montgomery, King, Bevel, and the SCLC, in partial collaboration with SNCC, attempted to organize the march to the state's capital. The first attempt to march on March 7, 1965, was aborted because of mob and police violence against the demonstrators. This day has become known as Bloody Sunday, and was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the Civil Rights Movement. It was the clearest demonstration up to that time of the dramatic potential of King's nonviolence strategy. King, however, was not present.
King met with officials in the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration on March 5 in order to request an injunction against any prosecution of the demonstrators. He did not attend the march due to church duties, but he later wrote, "If I had any idea that the state troopers would use the kind of brutality they did, I would have felt compelled to give up my church duties altogether to lead the line." Footage of police brutality against the protesters was broadcast extensively and aroused national public outrage.
King next attempted to organize a march for March 9. The SCLC petitioned for an injunction in federal court against the State of Alabama; this was denied and the judge issued an order blocking the march until after a hearing. Nonetheless, King led marchers on March 9 to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, then held a short prayer session before turning the marchers around and asking them to disperse so as not to violate the court order. The unexpected ending of this second march aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement. The march finally went ahead fully on March 25, 1965. At the conclusion of the march on the steps of the state capitol, King delivered a speech that became known as "How Long, Not Long". In it, King stated that equal rights for African Americans could not be far away, "because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice".[a]
Chicago Open Housing Movement, 1966
Main article: Chicago Freedom Movement
In 1966, after several successes in the South, King, Bevel, and others in the civil rights organizations tried to spread the movement to the North, with Chicago as their first destination. King and Ralph Abernathy, both from the middle class, moved into a building at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave., in the slums of North Lawndale on Chicago's West Side, as an educational experience and to demonstrate their support and empathy for the poor.
The SCLC formed a coalition with CCCO, Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, an organization founded by Albert Raby, and the combined organizations' efforts were fostered under the aegis of the Chicago Freedom Movement. During that spring, several white couple / black couple tests of real estate offices uncovered racial steering: discriminatory processing of housing requests by couples who were exact matches in income, background, number of children, and other attributes. Several larger marches were planned and executed: in Bogan, Belmont Cragin, Jefferson Park, Evergreen Park (a suburb southwest of Chicago), Gage Park, Marquette Park, and others.
Abernathy later wrote that the movement received a worse reception in Chicago than in the South. Marches, especially the one through Marquette Park on August 5, 1966, were met by thrown bottles and screaming throngs. Rioting seemed very possible. King's beliefs militated against his staging a violent event, and he negotiated an agreement with Mayor Richard J. Daley to cancel a march in order to avoid the violence that he feared would result. King was hit by a brick during one march but continued to lead marches in the face of personal danger.
When King and his allies returned to the South, they left Jesse Jackson, a seminary student who had previously joined the movement in the South, in charge of their organization. Jackson continued their struggle for civil rights by organizing the Operation Breadbasket movement that targeted chain stores that did not deal fairly with blacks.
Opposition to the Vietnam War
See also: Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War
King long opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War, but at first avoided the topic in public speeches in order to avoid the interference with civil rights goals that criticism of President Johnson's policies might have created. However, at the urging of aide James Bevel, King eventually agreed to publicly oppose the war as opposition was growing among the American public. In an April 4, 1967 appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence". He spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". He also connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just."
King also opposed the Vietnam War because it took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare at home. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. He summed up this aspect by saying, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death". He stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands", and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children". King also criticized American opposition to North Vietnam's land reforms.
King's opposition cost him significant support among white allies, including President Johnson, union leaders and powerful publishers. "The press is being stacked against me", King said, complaining of what he described as a double standard that applauded his non-violence at home, but deplored it when applied "toward little brown Vietnamese children". Life magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi", and The Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people".
The "Beyond Vietnam" speech reflected King's evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with which he was affiliated. King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation, and more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice. He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism. In a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott, he said "I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic..." In one speech, he stated that "something is wrong with capitalism" and claimed, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism." King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected "traditional capitalism", he also rejected communism because of its "materialistic interpretation of history" that denied religion, its "ethical relativism", and its "political totalitarianism".
King also stated in "Beyond Vietnam" that "true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar ... it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring". King quoted a United States official who said that, from Vietnam to Latin America, the country was "on the wrong side of a world revolution". King condemned America's "alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America", and said that the U.S. should support "the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World rather than suppressing their attempts at revolution.
On April 15, 1967, King participated in and spoke at an anti-war march from New York's Central Park to the United Nations organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and initiated by its chairman, James Bevel. At the U.N. King also brought up issues of civil rights and the draft.
I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.
Seeing an opportunity to unite civil rights activists and anti-war activists, Bevel convinced King to become even more active in the anti-war effort. Despite his growing public opposition towards the Vietnam War, King was also not fond of the hippie culture which developed from the anti-war movement. In his 1967 Massey Lecture, King stated:
The importance of the hippies is not in their unconventional behavior, but in the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people, in turning to a flight from reality, are expressing a profoundly discrediting view on the society they emerge from.
On January 13, 1968, the day after President Johnson's State of the Union Address, King called for a large march on Washington against "one of history's most cruel and senseless wars".
We need to make clear in this political year, to congressmen on both sides of the aisle and to the president of the United States, that we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer vote for men who continue to see the killings of Vietnamese and Americans as the best way of advancing the goals of freedom and self-determination in Southeast Asia.
Poor People's Campaign, 1968
Main article: Poor People's Campaign
In 1968, King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice. King traveled the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created an "economic bill of rights" for poor Americans. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.
King and the SCLC called on the government to invest in rebuilding America's cities. He felt that Congress had shown "hostility to the poor" by spending "military funds with alacrity and generosity". He contrasted this with the situation faced by poor Americans, claiming that Congress had merely provided "poverty funds with miserliness". His vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of "racism, poverty, militarism and materialism", and argued that "reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced".
The Poor People's Campaign was controversial even within the civil rights movement. Rustin resigned from the march, stating that the goals of the campaign were too broad, that its demands were unrealizable, and that he thought that these campaigns would accelerate the backlash and repression on the poor and the black.
After King's death
The plan to set up a shantytown in Washington, D.C. was carried out soon after the April 4 assassination. Criticism of King's plan was subdued in the wake of his death, and the SCLC received an unprecedented wave of donations for the purpose of carrying it out. The campaign officially began in Memphis, on May 2, at the hotel where King was murdered.
Thousands of demonstrators arrived on the National Mall and established a camp they called "Resurrection City". They stayed for six weeks.
Assassination and its aftermath
Main article: Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
On March 29, 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the black sanitary public works employees, represented by AFSCME Local 1733, who had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment. In one incident, black street repairmen received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, but white employees were paid for the full day.
On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address at Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. King's flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane. In the close of the last speech of his career, in reference to the bomb threat, King said the following:
And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
King was booked in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, owned by Walter Bailey, in Memphis. Abernathy, who was present at the assassination, testified to the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations that King and his entourage stayed at room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often it was known as the "King-Abernathy suite". According to Jesse Jackson, who was present, King's last words on the balcony before his assassination were spoken to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at an event King was attending: "Ben, make sure you play 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty."
Then, at 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968, a shot rang out as King stood on the motel's second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. Abernathy heard the shot from inside the motel room and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor. Jackson stated after the shooting that he cradled King's head as King lay on the balcony, but this account was disputed by other colleagues of King's; Jackson later changed his statement to say that he had "reached out" for King.
After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 7:05 p.m. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King's autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he "had the heart of a 60 year old", which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement.
Further information: King assassination riots
The assassination led to a nationwide wave of race riots in Washington D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Louisville, Kansas City, and dozens of other cities. Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was on his way to Indianapolis for a campaign rally when he was informed of King's death. He gave a short speech to the gathering of supporters informing them of the tragedy and urging them to continue King's ideal of non-violence. James Farmer, Jr. and other civil rights leaders also called for non-violent action, while the more militant Stokely Carmichael called for a more forceful response. The city of Memphis quickly settled the strike on terms favorable to the sanitation workers.
President Lyndon B. Johnson declared April 7 a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader. Vice President Hubert Humphrey attended King's funeral on behalf of the President, as there were fears that Johnson's presence might incite protests and perhaps violence. At his widow's request, King's last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was played at the funeral, a recording of his "Drum Major" sermon, given on February 4, 1968. In that sermon, King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to "feed the hungry", "clothe the naked", "be right on the [Vietnam] war question", and "love and serve humanity". His good friend Mahalia Jackson sang his favorite hymn, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", at the funeral.
Two months after King's death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd on his way to white-ruled Rhodesia. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King's murder. He confessed to the assassination on March 10, 1969, though he recanted this confession three days later. On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray pled guilty to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty. He was sentenced to a 99-year prison term. Ray later claimed a man he met in Montreal, Quebec, with the alias "Raoul" was involved and that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy. He spent the remainder of his life attempting, unsuccessfully, to withdraw his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had.
Allegations of conspiracy
Ray's lawyers maintained he was a scapegoat similar to the way that John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is seen by conspiracy theorists. Supporters of this assertion say that Ray's confession was given under pressure and that he had been threatened with the death penalty. Ray was a thief and burglar, but he had no record of committing violent crimes with a weapon. Prison records in different US cities have shown that he was incarcerated on numerous occasions for charges of armed robbery. In a 2008 interview with CNN, Jerry Ray, the younger brother of James Earl Ray, claimed that James was smart and was sometimes able to get away with armed robbery. Jerry Ray said that he had assisted his brother on one such robbery. "I never been with nobody as bold as he is," Jerry said. "He just walked in and put that gun on somebody, it was just like it's an everyday thing."
Those suspecting a conspiracy in the assassination point to the two successive ballistics tests which proved that a rifle similar to Ray's Remington Gamemaster had been the murder weapon. Those tests did not implicate Ray's specific rifle. Witnesses near King at the moment of his death said that the shot came from another location. They said that it came from behind thick shrubbery near the rooming house—which had been cut away in the days following the assassination—and not from the rooming house window. However, Ray's fingerprints were found on various objects (a rifle, a pair of binoculars, articles of clothing, a newspaper) that were left in the bathroom where it was determined the gunfire came from. An examination of the rifle containing Ray's fingerprints also determined that at least one shot was fired from the firearm at the time of the assassination.
In 1997, King's son Dexter Scott King met with Ray, and publicly supported Ray's efforts to obtain a new trial. Two years later, Coretta Scott King, King's widow, along with the rest of King's family, won a wrongful death claim against Loyd Jowers and "other unknown co-conspirators". Jowers claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King's assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found in favor of the King family and that government agencies were party to the assassination. William F. Pepper represented the King family in the trial.
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice completed the investigation into Jowers' claims but did not find evidence to support allegations about conspiracy. The investigation report recommended no further investigation unless some new reliable facts are presented. In 2002, The New York Times reported that a church minister, Rev. Ronald Denton Wilson, claimed his father, Henry Clay Wilson—not James Earl Ray—assassinated King. He stated, "It wasn't a racist thing; he thought Martin Luther King was connected with communism, and he wanted to get him out of the way." Wilson provided no evidence to back up his claims.
King researchers David Garrow and Gerald Posner disagreed with William F. Pepper's claims that the government killed King. In 2003, William Pepper published a book about the long investigation and trial, as well as his representation of James Earl Ray in his bid for a trial, laying out the evidence and criticizing other accounts. King's friend and colleague, James Bevel, also disputed the argument that Ray acted alone, stating, "There is no way a ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man." In 2004, Jesse Jackson stated:
The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. And within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press attacks. ... I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray.
FBI and King's personal life
FBI surveillance and wiretapping
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally ordered surveillance of King, with the intent to undermine his power as a civil rights leader. According to the Church Committee, a 1975 investigation by the U.S. Congress, "From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to 'neutralize' him as an effective civil rights leader."
The Bureau received authorization to proceed with wiretapping from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the fall of 1963 and informed President John F. Kennedy, both of whom unsuccessfully tried to persuade King to dissociate himself from Stanley Levison, a New York lawyer who had been involved with Communist Party USA. Although Robert Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy. The Bureau placed wiretaps on Levison's and King's home and office phones, and bugged King's rooms in hotels as he traveled across the country. In 1967, Hoover listed the SCLC as a black nationalist hate group, with the instructions: "No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leaderships of the groups ... to insure the targeted group is disrupted, ridiculed, or discredited."
NSA monitoring of King's communications
In a secret operation code-named "Minaret", the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the communications of leading Americans, including King, who criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam. A review by the NSA itself concluded that Minaret was "disreputable if not outright illegal."
Allegations of communism
For years, Hoover had been suspicious about potential influence of communists in social movements such as labor unions and civil rights. Hoover directed the FBI to track King in 1957, and the SCLC as it was established (it did not have a full-time executive director until 1960). The investigations were largely superficial until 1962, when the FBI learned that one of King's most trusted advisers was New York City lawyer Stanley Levison.
The FBI feared Levison was working as an "agent of influence" over King, in spite of its own reports in 1963 that Levison had left the Party and was no longer associated in business dealings with them. Another King lieutenant, Hunter Pitts O'Dell, was also linked to the Communist Party by sworn testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). However, by 1976 the FBI had acknowledged that it had not obtained any evidence that King himself or the SCLC were actually involved with any communist organizations.
For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to communism, stating in a 1965 Playboy interview that "there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida". He argued that Hoover was "following the path of appeasement of political powers in the South" and that his concern for communist infiltration of the civil rights movement was meant to "aid and abet the salacious claims of southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements". Hoover did not believe King's pledge of innocence and replied by saying that King was "the most notorious liar in the country". After King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, the FBI described King as "the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country". It alleged that he was "knowingly, willingly and regularly cooperating with and taking guidance from communists".
The attempt to prove that King was a communist was related to the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were happy with their lot but had been stirred up by "communists" and "outside agitators". However, the civil rights movement arose from activism within the black community dating back to before World War I. King said that "the Negro revolution is a genuine revolution, born from the same womb that produces all massive social upheavals—the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations."
Allegations of adultery
Having concluded that King was dangerous due to communist infiltration, the FBI shifted to attempting to discredit King through revelations regarding his private life. FBI surveillance of King, some of it since made public, attempted to demonstrate that he also engaged in numerous extramarital affairs. Lyndon Johnson once said that King was a "hypocritical preacher".
Ralph Abernathy stated in his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that King had a "weakness for women", although they "all understood and believed in the biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage. It was just that he had a particularly difficult time with that temptation". In a later interview, Abernathy said that he only wrote the term "womanizing", that he did not specifically say King had extramarital sex and that the infidelities King had were emotional rather than sexual. Abernathy criticized the media for sensationalizing the statements he wrote about King's affairs, such as the allegation that he admitted in his book that King had a sexual affair the night before he was assassinated. In his original wording, Abernathy had claimed he saw King coming out of his room with a lady when he awoke the next morning and later claimed that "he may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don't know."
In his 1986 book Bearing the Cross, David Garrow wrote about a number of extramarital affairs, including one woman King saw almost daily. According to Garrow, "that relationship ... increasingly became the emotional centerpiece of King's life, but it did not eliminate the incidental couplings ... of King's travels." He alleged that King explained his extramarital affairs as "a form of anxiety reduction". Garrow asserted that King's supposed promiscuity caused him "painful and at times overwhelming guilt". King's wife Coretta appeared to have accepted his affairs with equanimity, saying once that "all that other business just doesn't have a place in the very high level relationship we enjoyed." Shortly after Bearing the Cross was released, civil rights author Howell Raines gave the book a positive review but opined that Garrow's allegations about King's sex life were "sensational" and stated that Garrow was "amassing facts rather than analyzing them".
The FBI distributed reports regarding such affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners and funding sources of the SCLC, and King's family. The Bureau also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he did not cease his civil rights work. One anonymous letter sent to King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize read, in part:
The so-called "suicide letter", mailed anonymously by the FBI:
The American public, the church organizations that have been helping—Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are—an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant [sic]). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.
A tape recording of several of King's extramarital liaisons, excerpted from FBI wiretaps, accompanied the letter. King interpreted this package as an attempt to drive him to suicide, although William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division at the time, argued that it may have only been intended to "convince Dr. King to resign from the SCLC". King refused to give in to the FBI's threats.
Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr. in 1977 ordered that all known copies of the recorded audiotapes and written transcripts resulting from the FBI's electronic surveillance of King between 1963 and 1968 to be held in the National Archives and sealed from public access until 2027.
Police observation during the assassination
Across from the Lorraine Motel, next to the boarding house in which Ray was staying, was a fire station. Police officers were stationed in the fire station to keep King under surveillance. Agents were watching King at the time he was shot. Immediately following the shooting, officers rushed out of the station to the motel. Marrell McCollough, an undercover police officer, was the first person to administer first aid to King. The antagonism between King and the FBI, the lack of an all points bulletin to find the killer, and the police presence nearby led to speculation that the FBI was involved in the assassination.
Martin Luther King, Jr. statue over the west entrance of Westminster Abbey, installed in 1998.
King's main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. Just days after King's assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). This legislation was seen as a tribute to King's struggle in his final years to combat residential discrimination in the U.S.
Internationally, King's legacy includes influences on the Black Consciousness Movement and Civil Rights Movement in South Africa. King's work was cited by and served as an inspiration for South African leader Albert Lutuli, who fought for racial justice in his country and was later awarded the Nobel Prize. The day following King's assassination, school teacher Jane Elliott conducted her first "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise with her class of elementary school students in Riceville, Iowa. Her purpose was to help them understand King's death as it related to racism, something they little understood as they lived in a predominately white community. King has become a national icon in the history of American progressivism.
King's wife, Coretta Scott King, followed in her husband's footsteps and was active in matters of social justice and civil rights until her death in 2006. The same year that Martin Luther King was assassinated, she established the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, dedicated to preserving his legacy and the work of championing nonviolent conflict resolution and tolerance worldwide. Their son, Dexter King, serves as the center's chairman. Daughter Yolanda King, who died in 2007, was a motivational speaker, author and founder of Higher Ground Productions, an organization specializing in diversity training.
Even within the King family, members disagree about his religious and political views about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. King's widow Coretta said publicly that she believed her husband would have supported gay rights. However, his youngest child, Bernice King, has said publicly that he would have been opposed to gay marriage.
On February 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in speaking about how he wished to be remembered after his death, King stated:
I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Main article: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Beginning in 1971, cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and states established annual holidays to honor King. At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, it is called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush's 1992 proclamation, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King's birthday. On January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states. Arizona (1992), New Hampshire (1999) and Utah (2000) were the last three states to recognized the holiday. Utah previously celebrated the holiday at the same time but under the name Human Rights Day.
King is remembered as a martyr by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with an annual feast day on the anniversary of his death, April 4. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates King liturgically on the anniversary of his birth, January 15.
Awards and recognition
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where King ministered was renamed Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in 1978
King was awarded at least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and universities. On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S. In 1965, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee for his "exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty". In his acceptance remarks, King said, "Freedom is one thing. You have it all or you are not free."
In 1957, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. Two years later, he won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. In 1966, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded King the Margaret Sanger Award for "his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity". Also in 1966, King was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1971 he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.
In 1977, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was posthumously awarded to King by President Jimmy Carter. The citation read:
Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.
King and his wife were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
King was second in Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In 1963, he was named Time Person of the Year, and in 2000, he was voted sixth in an online "Person of the Century" poll by the same magazine. King placed third in the Greatest American contest conducted by the Discovery Channel and AOL.
Eponymous places and buildings
More than 730 cities in the United States have streets named after King. King County, Washington rededicated its name in his honor in 1986, and changed its logo to an image of his face in 2007. The city government center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is named in honor of King.
In 1980, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated King's boyhood home in Atlanta and several nearby buildings the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. In 1996, Congress authorized the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which King had been a member, to establish a foundation to manage fund raising and design of a national Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. King was the first African American and the fourth non-president honored with his own memorial in the National Mall area. The memorial opened in August 2011 and is administered by the National Park Service. The address of the monument, 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., commemorates the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958) ISBN 978-0-06-250490-6
The Measure of a Man (1959) ISBN 978-0-8006-0877-4
Strength to Love (1963) ISBN 978-0-8006-9740-2
Why We Can't Wait (1964) ISBN 978-0-8070-0112-7
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) ISBN 978-0-8070-0571-2
The Trumpet of Conscience (1968) ISBN 978-0-8070-0170-7
A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986) ISBN 978-0-06-250931-4
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), ed. Clayborne Carson ISBN 978-0-446-67650-2
"All Labor Has Dignity" (2011) ed. Michael Honey ISBN 978-0-8070-8600-1
"Thou, Dear God": Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits Collection of Dr. King's prayers. (2011), ed. Dr. Lewis Baldwin ISBN 978-0-8070-8603-2
MLK: A Celebration in Word and Image Photographed by Bob Adelman, introduced by Charles Johnson ISBN 978-0-8070-0316-9
Martin Luther King, Jr. authorship issues
Sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Equality before the law
Violence begets violence
List of American philosophers
List of civil rights leaders
List of peace activists
After Martin Luther King:
Post–Civil Rights era in African-American history
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^ Lincolnville Historic District - National Park Service
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^ a b Ralph, James (1993). Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement. Harvard University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-674-62687-7.
^ Cohen 2000, p. 347.
^ Cohen 2000, p. 416.
^ Fairclough, Adam (1987). To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference & Martin Luther King, Jr. University of Georgia Press. p. 299. ISBN 0-8203-2346-2.
^ Baty, Chris (2004). Chicago: City Guide. Lonely Planet. p. 52. ISBN 1-74104-032-9.
^ Stone, Eddie (1988). Jesse Jackson. Holloway House Publishing. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-87067-840-X.
^ Lentz, Richard (1990). Symbols, the News Magazines, and Martin Luther King. LSU Press. p. 230. ISBN 0-8071-2524-5.
^ Isserman, Maurice; Kazin, Michael (2000). America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s. Oxford University Press. p. 200. ISBN 0-19-509190-6. See also: Miller, Keith D. (1998). Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Its Sources. University of Georgia Press. p. 139. ISBN 0-8203-2013-7.
^ Mis, Melody S. (2008). Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosen Publishing Group. p. 20. ISBN 1-4042-4209-0.
^ Slessarev, Helene (1997). The Betrayal of the Urban Poor. Temple University Press. p. 140. ISBN 1-56639-543-7.
^ a b c Peter Braunstein (2004). The Sixties Chronicle. Legacy Publishing. p. 311. ISBN 141271009X.
^ a b c Alexander Remington (December 24, 2008). "The Rev. James L. Bevel dies at 72; civil rights activist and top lieutenant to King". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
^ Krenn, Michael L. (1998). The African American Voice in U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II. Taylor & Francis. p. 29. ISBN 0-8153-3418-4.
^ Robbins 2007, p. 107.
^ Robbins 2007, p. 102.
^ a b c Robbins 2007, p. 109.
^ Robbins 2007, p. 106.
^ Baldwin, Lewis V. (1992). To Make the Wounded Whole: The Cultural Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Fortress Press. p. 273. ISBN 0-8006-2543-9.
^ Long, Michael G. (2002). Against Us, But for Us: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the State. Mercer University Press. p. 199. ISBN 0-86554-768-8.
^ a b Dyson, Michael Eric (2008). "Facing Death". April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death and how it changed America. Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00212-2.
^ David J. Garrow, Bearing the Cross (1986), pp. 440, 445.
^ a b Pierre, Robert E. (October 16, 2011). "Martin Luther King Jr. made our nation uncomfortable". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
^ Lawson 2006, p. 148.
^ Harding, James M.; Rosenthal, Cindy (2006). Restaging the Sixties: Radical Theaters and Their Legacies. University of Michigan Press. p. 297. ISBN 0-472-06954-3.
^ Lentz, Richard (1990). Symbols, the News Magazines, and Martin Luther King. LSU Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-8071-2524-5.
^ Ling, Peter J. (2002). Martin Luther King, Jr. Routledge. p. 277. ISBN 0-415-21664-8.
^ Sturm, Douglas. "Martin Luther King, Jr., as Democratic Socialist." The Journal of Religious Ethics, 18, no. 2 (1990): 79-105. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
^ Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D. (20 January 2014). The Uncompromising Anti-Capitalism of Martin Luther King Jr. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
^ Franklin, Robert Michael (1990). Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African-American Thought. Fortress Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-8006-2392-4.
^ King, Jr., Martin Luther; King, Coretta Scott; King, Dexter Scott (1998). The Martin Luther King, Jr. Companion: Quotations from the Speeches, Essays, and Books of Martin Luther King, Jr. St. Martin's Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-312-19990-2.
^ a b c Zinn, Howard (2002). The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace. Beacon Press. pp. 122–123. ISBN 0-8070-1407-9.
^ "1967 Year In Review". United Press International. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
^ a b Martin L. King on hippies, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., Accessed September 15, 2014
^ a b Kurlansky, Mark (2004). 1968. Jonathan Cape (Random House). p. 46. ISBN 0-224-06251-4.
^ a b Robinson, Douglas (January 13, 1968). "Dr. King Calls for Antiwar Rally in Capital February 5–6". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
^ Vigil, Ernesto B. (1999). The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government's War on Dissent. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-299-16224-9.
^ a b Kick, Russell (2001). You are Being Lied to: The Disinformation Guide to Media Distortion, Historical Whitewashes and Cultural Myths. The Disinformation Campaign. p. 1991. ISBN 0-9664100-7-6.
^ Lawson 2006, p. 148–49.
^ Isserman, Maurice (2001). The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington. Public Affairs. p. 281. ISBN 1-58648-036-7.
^ McKnight, Gerald D. (1998). "'The Poor People Are Coming!' 'The Poor People Are Coming!'". The last crusade: Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI, and the poor people's campaign. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3384-9.
^ Engler, Mark (January 15, 2010). "Dr. Martin Luther King's Economics: Through Jobs, Freedom". The Nation. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
^ "1,300 Members Participate in Memphis Garbage Strike". AFSCME. February 1968. Archived from the original on November 2, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
^ "Memphis Strikers Stand Firm". AFSCME. March 1968. Archived from the original on November 2, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
^ Davis, Townsend (1998). Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement. WW Norton & Co. p. 364. ISBN 0-393-31819-2.
^ Thomas, Evan (November 19, 2007). "The Worst Week of 1968". Newsweek. p. 2. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2006). Speeches that Changed the World: The Stories and Transcripts of the Moments that Made History. Quercus. p. 155. ISBN 1-905204-16-7.
^ "United States Department of Justice Investigation of Recent Allegations Regarding the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr". U.S. Department of Justice. June 2000. Retrieved July 11, 2011. |chapter= ignored (help)
^ Pilkington, Ed (April 3, 2008). "40 years after King's death, Jackson hails first steps into promised land". The Guardian. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
^ Garner, Joe; Cronkite, Walter; Kurtis, Bill (2002). We Interrupt This Broadcast: The Events that Stopped Our Lives ... from the Hindenburg Explosion to the Attacks of September 11. Sourcebooks. p. 62. ISBN 1-57071-974-8.
^ Pepper, William (2003). An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. Verso. p. 159. ISBN 1-85984-695-5.
^ Frady 2005, pp. 204–05.
^ Purnick, Joyce (April 18, 1988). "Koch Says Jackson Lied About Actions After Dr. King Was Slain". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
^ Lokos, Lionel (1968). House Divided: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King. Arlington House. p. 48.
^ "Citizen King Transcript". PBS. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
^ "1968: Martin Luther King shot dead". On this Day (BBC). April 4, 1968. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Risen, Clay (2009). A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-17710-1.
^ Klein, Joe (2006). Politics Lost: How American Democracy was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid. New York: Doubleday. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-385-51027-1
^ a b "1968 Year In Review". United Press International. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
^ "AFSCME Wins in Memphis". AFSCME The Public Employee. April 1968. Archived from the original on November 2, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
^ Manheimer, Ann S. (2004). Martin Luther King Jr.: Dreaming of Equality. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 97. ISBN 1-57505-627-5.
^ Dickerson, James (1998). Dixie's Dirty Secret: The True Story of how the Government, the Media, and the Mob Conspired to Combat Immigration and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. ME Sharpe. p. 169. ISBN 0-7656-0340-3.
^ Hatch, Jane M.; Douglas, George William (1978). The American Book of Days. Wilson. p. 321.
^ King, Jr., Martin Luther (2007). Dream: The Words and Inspiration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blue Mountain Arts. p. 26. ISBN 1-59842-240-5.
^ Werner, Craig (2006). A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America. University of Michigan Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-472-03147-3.
^ Ling, Peter J. (2002). Martin Luther King, Jr. Routledge. p. 296. ISBN 0-415-21664-8.
^ a b Flowers, R. Barri; Flowers, H. Loraine (2004). Murders in the United States: Crimes, Killers And Victims Of The Twentieth Century. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN 0-7864-2075-8.
^ a b c d "James Earl Ray Dead At 70". CBS. April 23, 1998. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
^ House Select Committee on Assassinations (2001). Compilation of the Statements of James Earl Ray: Staff Report. The Minerva Group. p. 17. ISBN 0-89875-297-3.
^ a b Davis, Lee (1995). Assassination: 20 Assassinations that Changed the World. JG Press. p. 105. ISBN 1-57215-235-4.
^ "From small-time criminal to notorious assassin". CNN. 1998. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved September 17, 2006.
^ Knight, Peter (2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 402. ISBN 1-57607-812-4.
^ a b c d James Polk (December 29, 2008). "The case against James Earl Ray". CNN. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
^ "Questions left hanging by James Earl Ray's death". BBC. April 23, 1998. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Frank, Gerold (1972). An American Death: The True Story of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Greatest Manhunt of our Time. Doubleday. p. 283.
^ "James Earl Ray, convicted King assassin, dies". CNN. April 23, 1998. Retrieved September 17, 2006.
^ "Trial Transcript Volume XIV". The King Center. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Sack, Kevin; Yellin, Emily (December 10, 1999). "Dr. King's Slaying Finally Draws A Jury Verdict, but to Little Effect". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
^ Smith, Robert Charles; Seltzer, Richard (2000). Contemporary Controversies and the American Racial Divide. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 97. ISBN 0-7425-0025-X.
^ "United States Department of Justice Investigation of Recent Allegations Regarding the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr". U.S. Department of Justice. June 2000. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2011. |chapter= ignored (help)
^ Canedy, Dana (April 5, 2002). "A Minister Says His Father, Now Dead, Killed Dr. King". The New York Times.
^ Sargent, Frederic O. (2004). The Civil Rights Revolution: Events and Leaders, 1955–1968. McFarland. p. 129. ISBN 0-7864-1914-8.
^ Pepper, William (2003). An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. Verso. p. 182. ISBN 1-85984-695-5.
^ Branch, Taylor (2006). At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–68. Simon & Schuster. p. 770. ISBN 978-0-684-85712-1.
^ Goodman, Amy; Gonzalez, Juan (January 15, 2004). "Jesse Jackson On 'Mad Dean Disease', the 2000 Elections and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King". Democracy Now!. Retrieved September 18, 2006.
^ a b Honey, Michael K. (2007). "Standing at the Crossroads". Going down Jericho Road the Memphis strike, Martin Luther King's last campaign (1 ed.). Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-04339-6. Hoover developed a round-the-clock surveillance campaign aimed at destroying King.
^ a b c d Church, Frank (April 23, 1976), "Church Committee Book III", Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Case Study (Church Committee)
^ Garrow, David J. (July–August 2002). "The FBI and Martin Luther King". The Atlantic Monthly.
^ a b Ryskind, Allan H. (February 27, 2006). "JFK and RFK Were Right to Wiretap MLK". Human Events. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Kotz 2005.
^ Herst 2007, p. 372.
^ Herst 2007, pp. 372–74.
^ a b c d Christensen, Jen (April 7, 2008). "FBI tracked King's every move". CNN. Retrieved June 14, 2008.
^ Glick, Brian (1989). War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. South End Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-89608-349-3.
^ a b The Guardian, 26 September 2013, "Declassified NSA Files Show Agency Spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK Operation Minaret Set Up in 1960s to Monitor Anti-Vietnam Critics, Branded 'Disreputable If Not Outright Illegal' by NSA Itself," http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/26/nsa-surveillance-anti-vietnam-muhammad-ali-mlk
^ Downing, Frederick L. (1986). To See the Promised Land: The Faith Pilgrimage of Martin Luther King, Jr. Mercer University Press. pp. 246–7. ISBN 0-86554-207-4.
^ Kotz 2005, p. 233.
^ Kotz 2005, pp. 70–74.
^ Woods, Jeff (2004). Black Struggle, Red Scare: Segregation and Anti-communism in the South, 1948–1968. LSU Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-8071-2926-7. See also: Wannall, Ray (2000). The Real J. Edgar Hoover: For the Record. Turner Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 1-56311-553-0.
^ Washington 1991, p. 362.
^ Bruns, Roger (2006). Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 0-313-33686-5.
^ Kotz 2005, p. 83.
^ Gilbert, Alan (1990). Democratic Individuality: A Theory of Moral Progress. Cambridge University Press. p. 435. ISBN 0-521-38709-4.
^ Washington 1991, p. 363.
^ Sidey, Hugh (February 10, 1975). "L.B.J., Hoover and Domestic Spying". Time. Archived from the original on September 21, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2008.
^ Abernathy, Ralph (1989). And the walls came tumbling down: an autobiography. Harper & Row. p. 471. ISBN 978-0-06-016192-7.
^ a b c d Abernathy, Ralph David (October 29, 1989). "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down". Booknotes. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2008.
^ Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. William Morrow & Co. 1986. pp. 375–6.
^ Frady 2002, p. 67.
^ Raines, Howell (November 30, 1986). "Driven to Martyrdom". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
^ Burnett, Thom (2005). Conspiracy Encyclopedia. Collins & Brown. p. 58. ISBN 1-84340-287-4.
^ Thragens, William C. (1988). Popular Images of American Presidents. Greenwood Publishing. p. 532. ISBN 0-313-22899-X.
^ Gage, Beverly (2014-11-11). "What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
^ Kotz 2005, p. 247.
^ Frady 2002, pp. 158–159.
^ Wilson, Sondra K. (1999). In Search of Democracy: The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920–1977). Oxford University Press. p. 466. ISBN 0-19-511633-X.
^ Phillips, Geraldine N. (Summer 1997). "Documenting the Struggle for Racial Equality in the Decade of the Sixties". Prologue (The National Archives and Records Administration). Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ "Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination Featured Individuals". Black in America. CNN. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
^ McKnight, Gerald (1998). The Last Crusade: Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI, and the Poor People's Crusade. Westview Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-8133-3384-9.
^ Martin Luther King, Jr.: The FBI Files. Filiquarian Publishing. 2007. pp. 40–2. ISBN 1-59986-253-0. See also: Polk, James (April 7, 2008). "King conspiracy theories still thrive 40 years later". CNN. Retrieved June 16, 2008. and "King's FBI file Part 1 of 2" (PDF). FBI. Retrieved January 16, 2012. and "King's FBI file Part 2 of 2" (PDF). FBI. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
^ Knight, Peter (2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 408–9. ISBN 1-57607-812-4.
^ a b "The History of Fair Housing". U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
^ Ansell, Gwen (2005). Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music, and Politics in South Africa. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 139. ISBN 0-8264-1753-1.
^ Clinton, Hillary Rodham (2007). It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. Simon & Schuster. p. 137. ISBN 1-4165-4064-4.
^ King 1992, pp. 307–08.
^ Peters, William. "A Class Divided: One Friday in April, 1968". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ Krugman, Paul R. (2009). The Conscience of a Liberal. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-393-33313-8.
^ "The King Center's Mission". The King Center. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
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^ "Welcome". Higher Ground Productions. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
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^ "IBM advertisement". The Dallas Morning News. January 14, 1985. p. 13A.
^ Joseph Leahy, "St. Louis Remains A Stronghold For Dr. King's Dream", News for St. Louis, St. Louis Public Radio, 20 January 2014
^ "Proclamation 6401 – Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday". The American Presidency Project. 1992. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
^ "Martin Luther King Day". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on March 28, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ Goldberg, Carey (May 26, 1999). "Contrarian New Hampshire To Honor Dr. King, at Last". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
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^ "Martin Luther King Day Weekend 2012" (PDF). Episcopal Church. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
^ "Church Year and Calendar". St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church. Archived from the original on January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
^ a b Warren, Mervyn A. (2001). King Came Preaching: The Pulpit Power of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. InterVarsity Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-8308-2658-0.
^ Wintle, Justin (2001). Makers of Modern Culture: Makers of Culture. Routledge. p. 272. ISBN 0-415-26583-5.
^ Engel, Irving M. "Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.: Presentation of American Liberties Medallion". American Jewish Committee. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
^ King, Jr., Martin Luther. "Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.: Response to Award of American Liberties Medallion". American Jewish Committee. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
^ "Spingarn Medal Winners: 1915 to Today". NAACP. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
^ "Martin Luther King Jr.". Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
^ "The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. upon accepting The Planned Parenthood Federation Of America Margaret Sanger Award". PPFA. Archived from the original on February 24, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ "SCLC Press Release". SCLC via the King Center. May 16, 1966. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
^ Gates, Henry Louis; Appiah, Anthony (1999). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books. p. 1348. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.
^ Carter, Jimmy (July 11, 1977). "Presidential Medal of Freedom Remarks on Presenting the Medal to Dr. Jonas E. Salk and to Martin Luther King, Jr.". The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
^ "Congressional Gold Medal Recipients (1776 to Present)". Office of the Clerk: U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
^ Gallup, George; Gallup, Jr., Alec (2000). The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1999. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 249. ISBN 0-8420-2699-1.
^ Harpaz, Beth J. (December 27, 1999). "Time Names Einstein as Person of the Century". – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Associated Press. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
^ "Reagan voted 'greatest American'". BBC. June 28, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Alderman, Derek H. (February 13, 2006). "Naming Streets for Martin Luther King, Jr.: No Easy Road". Landscape and Race in the United States. Routledge Press. Retrieved July 4, 2011.[dead link]
^ "King County Was Rededicated For MLK". The Seattle Times. January 18, 1998. Retrieved June 13, 2008. See also: "New logo is an image of civil rights leader". King County. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
^ "Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Competition Winners Announced". City of Harrisburg. January 19, 2003. Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ "Washington, DC Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Breaks Ground On Historic $100 Million Memorial On The National Mall In Washington, D.C.". Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. November 6, 2006. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ Tobias, Randall L. (January 18, 2007). "Celebrating the Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
^ Tavernise, Sabrina (August 23, 2011). "A Dream Fulfilled, Martin Luther King Memorial Opens". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013.
^ "Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial". National Park Service. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
^ Guevara, Brittni (July 26, 2011). "FYIDC: Paying Tribute To Dr. King". Washington Life. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
Abernathy, Ralph (1989). And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-016192-2.
Branch, Taylor (2006). At Canaan's Edge: America In the King Years, 1965–1968. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85712-X.
Cohen, Adam Seth; Taylor, Elizabeth (2000). Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. Back Bay. ISBN 0-316-83489-0.
Frady, Marshall (2002). Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-303648-7.
Garrow, David J. (1981). The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-006486-9.
Garrow, David. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1989). Pulitzer Prize. ISBN 978-0-06-056692-0
"James L. Bevel, The Strategist of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement", a 1984 paper by Randy Kryn, published with a 1988 addendum by Kryn in Prof. David Garrow's We Shall Overcome, Volume II (Carlson Publishing Company, 1989).
Glisson, Susan M. (2006). The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-4409-5.
Herst, Burton (2007). Bobby and J. Edger. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1982-6.
Jackson, Thomas F. (2006). From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-3969-0.
King, Jr., Martin Luther (1998). Carson, Clayborne, ed. Autobiography. Warner Books. p. 6. ISBN 0-446-52412-3.
King, Jr., Martin Luther; Carson, Clayborne; Holloran, Peter; Luker, Ralph; Russell, Penny A. (1992). The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07950-7.
Kotz, Nick (2005). Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws that Changed America. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 0-618-08825-3.
Lawson, Steven F.; Payne, Charles M.; Patterson, James T. (2006). Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945–1968. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-5109-1.
Robbins, Mary Susannah (2007). Against the Vietnam War: Writings by Activists. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-5914-9.
Washington, James M. (1991). A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-064691-8.
Ayton, Mel (2005). A Racial Crime: James Earl Ray And The Murder Of Martin Luther King Jr. Archebooks Publishing. ISBN 1-59507-075-3.
Branch, Taylor (1988). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-46097-8.
Branch, Taylor (1998). Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–1965. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80819-6.
King, Coretta Scott (1993) . My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. Henry Holth & Co. ISBN 0-8050-2445-X.
Kirk, John A., ed. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement: Controversies and Debates (2007). pp. 224
Schulke, Flip; McPhee, Penelope. King Remembered, Foreword by Jesse Jackson (1986). ISBN 978-1-4039-9654-1
Waldschmidt-Nelson, Britta. Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2012. ISBN 0-8130-3723-9.
The King Center
"Martin Luther King Jr. Collection", Morehouse College, RWWL
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project
FBI file on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize, Civil Rights Digital Library
Works by or about Martin Luther King, Jr. in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
Speeches and interviews
Audio from April 1961 King, "The Church on the Frontier of Racial Tensions", speech at Southern Seminary
"Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Speeches and Interviews"
The New Negro, King interviewed by J. Waites Waring
"Interview with Dr. Kenneth Clark", PBS
"Beyond Vietnam" speech text and audio
King Institute Encyclopedia multimedia
Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam, sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967 (audio of speech with video 23:31)
"Walk to Freedom", Detroit, June 23, 1963. Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs. Wayne State University.
Chiastic outline of Martin Luther King, Junior's "I Have a Dream" speech