Commentary

Newly Discovered 1964 MLK Speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa

(DEMOCRACYNOW) Interview, January 16, 2017— AMY GOODMAN: Today is the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4th, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor, organizing the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy and the Vietnam War.

In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Days before he received that award in Oslo, Norway, Dr. King traveled to London. On December 7th, 1964, Dr. King gave a speech sponsored by the British group Christian Action about the civil rights struggle in the United States, as well as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. The speech was recorded by Saul Bernstein, who was working as the European correspondent for Pacifica Radio. Bernstein’s recording was recently discovered by Brian DeShazor, director of the Pacifica Radio Archives. This is that address by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

REVMARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I want to talk with you mainly about our struggle in the United States and, before taking my seat, talk about some of the larger struggles in the whole world and some of the more difficult struggles in places like South Africa. But there is a desperate, poignant question on the lips of people all over our country and all over the world. I get it almost everywhere I go and almost every press conference. It is a question of whether we are making any real progress in the struggle to make racial justice a reality in the United States of America. And whenever I seek to answer that question, on the one hand, I seek to avoid an undue pessimism; on the other hand, I seek to avoid a superficial optimism. And I try to incorporate or develop what I consider a realistic position, by admitting on the one hand that we have made many significant strides over the last few years in the struggle for racial justice, but by admitting that before the problem is solved we still have numerous things to do and many challenges to meet. And it is this realistic position that I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together tonight as we think about the problem in the United States. We have come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go before the problem is solved.

Source: Newly Discovered 1964 MLK Speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa | Democracy Now!