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Peace Matters






About King

Quotations on:
- Racialism
- Poverty
- Religion and the church
- War and Peace
- Civil Disobedience
- The movement & Black Power
- Violence & Nonviolence
- Through other people's eyes
- Speech


Audio tape of King's speeches is available

All the quotations, text of the speech and other material about King is available as an illustrated pdf fille.


on the movement & black power

The movement for equality and justice can only be a success if it has both a mass and militant character. (A)

Mass non-violent action will continue to be one of the most effective tactics of the freedom movement. Many, especially in the North, argue that the maximum use of legislation, welfare and antipoverty programmes has now replaced demonstrations, and that overt and visible protest should now be abandoned. Nothing could prove more erroneous than to demobilise at this point. It was the mass-action movement that engendered the changes of the decade, but the needs which created it are not yet satisfied. Without the will to unity and struggle Negroes would have no strength, and reversal of our success could easily be effected. The use of creative tensions that broke the barriers of the South will be as indispensable in the North to obtain and extend necessary objectives.

But mass non-violent demonstrations will not be enough. They must be supplemented by a continuing job or organisation. To produce change, people must be organised to work together in units of power. These units may be political as in the case of voters' leagues and political parties; they may be economic, as in the case of tenants who join forces to form a union, or groups of the unemployed and under-employed who organise to get jobs and better wages.

More and more, the civil rights movement will have to engage in the task of organising people into permanent groups to protect their own interests and produce change on their behalf. This task is tedious, and lacks the drama of demonstrations, but it is necessary for meaningful results. (C)

Can a non-violent, direct-action movement find application on the international level, to confront economic and political problem? I believe it can. It is clear to me that the next stage of the movement is to become international. National movements within the developed countries...must help to make it politically feasible for their governments to undertake the kind of massive aid that the developing countries need if they are to break the chains of poverty. We in the West must bear in mind that the poor countries are poor primarily because we have exploited them through political or economic colonialism. Americans in particular must help their nation repent of her modern economic imperialism.

But movements in our countries alone will not be enough. In Latin America, for example, national reform movements have almost despaired of non-violent methods; many young men, even many priests, have joined guerrilla movements in the hills. So many of Latin America's problems have roots in the United States of American that we need to form a solid, united movement, non-violently conceived and carried through, so that pressure can be brought to bear on the capital and government power structures concerned, from both sides of the problem at once. I think that may be the only hope for a non-violent solution in Latin America today; and one of the most powerful expressions of non-violence may come out of that international coalition of socially aware forces, operating outside governmental frameworks. (D)

Black Power Beneath all the satisfaction of a gratifying slogan, Black Power is a nihilistic philosophy born out of the conviction that the Negro can't win. It is, at bottom, the view that American society is so hopelessly corrupt and enmeshed in evil that there is no possibility of salvation from within. Although this thinking is understandable as a response to a white power structure that never completely committed itself to a true equality for the Negro, and a die-hard mentality that sought to shut all windows and doors against the winds of change, it nonetheless carries the seeds of its own doom.

Before this century, virtually all revolutions had been based on hope and hate. The hope was expressed in the rising expectation of freedom and justice. The hate was an expression of bitterness towards the perpetrators of the old order. It was the hate that made revolutions bloody and violent. what was new about Mahatma Gandhi's movement in India was that he mounted a revolution on hope and love, hope and non-violence. This same new emphasis characterised the civil rights movement in our country dating from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 to the Selma movement of 1965. We maintained the hope whilst transforming the hate of traditional revolutions into positive non-violent power. As long as the hope was fulfilled there was little questioning of non-violence. But when the hopes were blasted, when people came to see that in spite of progress their conditions were still insufferable, when they looked out and saw more poverty, more school segregation and more slums, despair began to set in...

But revolution, though born of despair, cannot long be sustained by despair. This is the ultimate contradiction of the Black Power movement. It claims to be the most revolutionary wing of the social revolution taking place in the United States. Yet is rejects the one thing that keeps the fire of revolution burning: the ever-present flame of hope. When hope dies, a revolution degenerates into an undiscriminating catchall for evanescent and futile gestures. The Negro cannot entrust his destiny to a philosophy nourished solely on despair, to a slogan that cannot be implemented into a programme. (C)


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